Shahbagh Shishu Park closed for over 3.5 yrs: No progress on modernisation – The Daily Star


Shahbagh Shishu Park has remained closed since January 2019, as the authorities are working to modernise it. But no progress has been made on the modernisation project for the last three and a half years.
Seven Eid holidays have passed by, but the park, which has been a prominent centre of recreation for families over the years, has been unable to serve anyone during the holidays.
The Department of Public Works, which owns the park’s land, is currently working on an underground car parking inside the park under the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs.
It will take another two years to complete the construction, after which Dhaka South City Corporation’s (DSCC) mechanical department will work on the park’s modernisation under a separate project. According to officials, it will take another three years to relaunch the park.
In January 2019, DSCC announced its closure by hanging a notice in front of the park, stating that it will be closed to public to avoid any unwanted accidents during the modernisation and development work, implemented by the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs.
According to the work order of the ministry project, the construction of Swadhinata Stambha (Phase 3) was supposed to start in January 2016 and be completed by 2019. Shishu Park was also supposed to be open, with new underground parking and infrastructures, around the same time.
However, construction inside the park has not yet begun, even after around 41 months, due to some complications regarding budget allocation.
Besides, the deadline for the construction of Swadhinata Stambha has been extended several times, with the latest deadline being June 2022. As of yet, about 40 percent of the work remains, for which the ministry is preparing to extend the project till June 2024.
According to the project stakeholders, for DSCC to modernise the park with new rides, the corporation was supposed to be allocated Tk 65 crore out of the total budget of Tk 265 crore for the Swadhinata Stambha project.
However, DSCC had an objection to this proposed allocation from the beginning. DSCC informed the ministry that to replace the old and risky set of rides in the park, a higher allocation was required. A year and a half ago, the ministry asked DSCC to modernise the park under a new project. Later, DSCC prepared a proposal with a budget of Tk 616 crore and sent it to the LGED ministry.
According to LGED engineers, the DSCC project has not yet been approved. If approved, it would still take another three years to reopen the park. There is no possibility of opening it before 2025.
Meanwhile, city experts said the closure is depriving an entire generation of children of healthier modes of entertainment, hindering their physical and mental development.
“Dhaka has very limited space for children, and Shishu Park is one of them. The fact that it will be closed for almost half a decade is completely unacceptable. What’s more concerning is that even the stakeholders don’t have clear information regarding its reopening,” said Adil Mohammed Khan, executive director of Institute for Planning and Development.
During a recent visit to the park, this correspondent saw that construction work of the underground parking took up almost all of the park’s area. There was no display or information regarding what the park and the parking will look like post-construction. Just a small cautionary board was seen hanging.
Most of the previous rides have ceased to exist, and the two spinning wheels were surrounded by tin boundaries. The jet, a gift from Bangladesh Air Force, was seen lying on the bushes of the west side of the park, covered in dust.
This correspondent did not see any worker in action as well. There were mosquito larvae in a closed watery space inside the parking lot’s construction site, increasing the risks for dengue transmission.
Contacted, DSCC spokesperson Abu Naser told this correspondent, “We sent our project proposal to the LGED ministry, from where it went to the planning ministry. However, it was not submitted to Ecnec for approval.”
“Our plan includes 15 new modern rides for the children. If approved, it will be a modern park in all sense,” he added.
বন্দর নগরী চট্টগ্রামে ৫ মিলিমিটার বৃষ্টিতেই বিভিন্ন রাস্তায় হাঁটু সমান পানি জমেছে। জলাবদ্ধতার কারণে চলাচলে ভোগান্তিতে পড়েছেন স্কুল-কলেজের শিক্ষার্থী ও অফিসগামী মানুষ।

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