February 28, 2023
DHAKA – Playgrounds are necessary for the sound development of our future generation. However, due to various reasons such as occupation, renovation, and repurposing, Dhaka city has been fast losing the few playgrounds it has. Take the Lalmatia Block D playground, for example. Reportedly, for the past three months, the contractors in charge of its renovation have been saying that it will be open for all soon, but that day has yet to arrive. The deadline for finishing the project was June 2022. However, the subcontractors say that they have missed the deadline because of the pandemic. Currently, the caretaker of the playground refuses to let children in to play at the park.
Additionally, three other parks – Trikona Park in Lalmatia near Town Hall, Shahid Park, and Sonali Playground in Mohammadpur – are also “under renovation.” The project director had said that these three parks would be activated in the last week of February. However, when our reporter went to visit Trikona park recently, he found that development work was going on. The project director said that the delay was caused due to planning complexities. But, as the planners used up time pondering whether or not to build a footbridge, the children of the area (who came to know of this spot as their primary place for sports and recreation) suffered. Only the Sonali playground is now partly operational, giving some scope to the area’s children for play.
Opportunities for sports and recreation are instrumental in the development of children. Without access to playtime, the physical and mental growth of children can be severely hindered. This has become worse due to the pandemic. Yet, 25 out of 75 wards under Dhaka South City Corporation and 10 out of 55 wards under Dhaka North City Corporation do not have a single park or playground, according to the new detailed area plan (DAP). Even where there are parks, there are also efforts to snatch them away. For example, last year, the Tetultala playground in the capital’s Kalaban was being planned to be used for constructing a police station. Thankfully, the higher authorities stepped in due to vehement protests by locals. But is this sustainable? Do children and other locals have to go on strike every time a new decision of eating up an open space comes about?
One of the major reasons for urban planners and psychologists of saying that Dhaka is unsuitable for children is the city’s lack of playgrounds. In the last 22 years, however, the number of playgrounds in Dhaka has come down from 150 to only 24. We urge authorities to save the playgrounds that are currently in danger and to also create more spaces where our children can play freely.