Jagannath University to lose its playground as mall looms
The Dhaka South City Corporation or DSCC started the project on 7.5 acres of land, which has long been used by the university. The authorities have organized field programs in Dhupkhola de Gendaria, including their first convocation in the presence of President Md Abdul Hamid in 2020. Students play regularly on the field.
The campus is still closed due to the pandemic, but students have decided to take to the streets this week to protest the municipality’s decision. University authorities have informed the government of the development and are considering taking legal steps to conserve the domain.
Although the municipality claims the land is their property, university officials say it was awarded to the former Jagannath College, a university college, in the 1980s.
In addition to serving as a playground, the land has been crucial for the recreation of students and residents of Old Dhaka for several decades.
East End Club uses the east side of the field for training. The northwest side is close to Jagannath University, with a gate to enter from the institution. The south-eastern part was open.
The town company drew up new plans for the three sections of the land in 2016 and then resorted to changes to the project in the face of protests from residents.
He now plans to build a five-story shopping center on the west side of the land and a children’s park to the north, while the east will remain a sports field.
The municipality launched the field development project five years after taking the plan and was keen to complete it by the end of 2021.
Now the university gate to the field is blocked by piles of dirt and sand. The soil was dug in a few places while the stem limits were removed.
Work began a month ago. Construction workers said authorities closed the other two doors last week.
Security guard Rubel, who works on the Jagannath University side in the field, said he called Goutam Kumar Saha, deputy director of the institution’s physical education center, after seeing workers digging the ground. at midnight last Monday.
He recorded video of the incident on his cell phone, but some local officials deleted the clip and confined it until 3:30 a.m. last Tuesday, Rubel said. They later asked him to go home leaving the phone behind. They returned it on Tuesday. The border was removed the day before.
Gautam said police in Gendaria rejected the university’s complaint about it twice on Tuesday. “The police asked us to take the matter to the mayor to settle it. We emailed the complaint back on Wednesday.
Gendaria police station chief Saju Mia said: “We have asked the university authorities to file a complaint with documents, if they have any.”
THE UNIVERSITY’S CLAIMS
Most of the university’s properties were in the wrong hands when the institution became a college in 2005. Beyond its campus, the only property the university claimed to have was the Dhupkhola land.
Jagannath University regularly hosts sporting events on the ground. The inaugural convocation of the university, chaired by the ex officio chancellor, President Hamid, was also held there in 2020.
Alamgir Sikdar Loton, former vice president of the Jagannath College Students Union, said students have been using the land as part of the institution since 1983, when the late President HM Ershad allocated part of the land to the ‘institution. A sign was then placed there.
A platform of left-wing student organizations has now called for a demonstration on Sunday to protest the municipality’s decision to build a building on the land. Student leaders demanded administrative action before October 3 to retain control of the estate.
The students had previously organized protests to regain control of the residences, but to no avail.
Goutam, deputy director of the Physical Education Center, believes that students’ keen interest in sport will dissipate if the pitch disappears.
“They (the city society) have to close the holes and give us the field back,” said Saiful Islam, a statistics student who regularly played on the field.
Another student, Rustam Rabbi, fears that the sports field will be turned into a “business center”. “They cannot under any circumstances work in a space designated to us. They must stop immediately and return the land to us.
Kamaluddin Ahmed, the university’s acting vice-chancellor, said he sent letters to the prime minister’s office, the ministry of local government, the education ministry and the municipality last Wednesday in an attempt to retain the domain control.
The university will take legal action if the municipality does not return the land, he said. “We sort the documents. “
WHAT DSCC SAYS
Farid Ahmad, CEO of Dhaka South City Corporation, claimed the field was theirs.
“We are not working on the grounds of Jagannath University. Rather, we are carrying out the work on land belonging to the municipality, ”he said.
“Jagannath University will be able to use it once the development work is complete. There will be a sports facility, which they can use with the rest of the local population. “
Former student leader Loton, however, dismissed Farid’s claims as baseless. “All the evidence is there. A president introduced him [to the university], how can the municipality claim its property? “
“If the domain is not owned by Jagannath University, how was the graduation ceremony there?” How has the university been using it for so long by putting up a sign? “
He criticizes the indifference of the university administration for losing its authority on the ground.
The residents of Old Dhaka fear that the DSCC project will further narrow the open space of the locality.
“A lot of old people came here to take a walk. Do they have other places to breathe freely? These trees won’t be here for long either. They will be shot. The terrain will not be the same, ”said an elderly resident of Dhupkhola.
A young man, who identified himself with only one name Niloy, said: “I have been playing here since I was a child. It seems that the locals will no longer be able to play. It’s sad. People on the outside will play, we’ll just watch. Because the domain is fragmented and everyone is excluded in the name of modernization.
Another local resident, Abdul Alim, said: “Let’s leave the field open. That’s why people come here. It is the heart of the neighborhood. The whole city of Dhaka has become a market with hardly any open space. We no longer need markets.