Public park space in Dhaka is almost non existent. Almost hidden within this concrete slum of 12 million people, few spots here and there still gives the Dhakaites much needed greenery and some fresh air to walk in the early morning. If you happen to be in Parliament building ground, or Suhrawardi Udyan (Ramna Green) before sunrise, you will see a carnival there. Muffler clad elderly man gossiping in gangs, Saree-salwar-kameez wearing middle aged women walking briskly, young men running and doing physical exercise and even young kids joined the grand festivities with their moms. Suhrawardi Udyan and Parliament building areas are one of the rare open space Dhakaites now have. If you happen to stop by crescent lake, or the road side shops along Ashulia-Uttara road, the jam-packed, inch to inch crowd, will give you an idea of the dire need some park space in Dhaka.
While the governments should consider this park space shortage as an issue of priority and do everything possible to make more greenery available to the public, this government has done exactly the opposite.
The took away almost half of Ramna Green (25 acre of 62 acres) and silently gave it to a club of 1500 elites of Dhaka, the Dhaka Club. The hitherto public park space will be the golf course for the 1500 elites of Dhaka. And this broad daylight robbery of public land occurred almost 5 months ago in June 2007.
Advisor in charge of housing and Public works Barrister Moinul Hossain did make this decision. It is not clear on what right did he give away such a priceless piece of public property to his Dhaka club elite friends. It is also not known whether any kind of public hearing or at least consultation with the council of advisors did take place prior to this decision.
It is worthy a reminder that several ministers of previous government have been served with extended jail sentences for unlawfully allocating government property to their favored organizations. Ex communication minister Barrister Nazmul Huda has been charged for allocating a small piece of barren railway land (Not a park or greenery) to a Human rights org led by her wife. Similarly politicians like Mirza Abbas , MAH Selim , Tariqul Islam , Shahjahan Siraj and many others have been charged and given different terms of jail sentence for alleged misuse of government land.
The readers also should be reminded that this big chunk of available Dhaka greenery is being grabbed by an elite recreation club with only 1500 members. Entrance to this exceedingly elite cult is prohibitively difficult and expensive. A clear direction is not available to the public regarding its membership and it is a common saying that you only can enter this clan if you can buy someone’s membership, which is nearly impossible and would cost you a fortune.
One may also question the feasibility of restricting such a prime park space in central Dhaka for golf, which is played by an extremely limited number of people in Bangladesh. I don’t know how much it will cost to book your Tee time at the proposed Ramna Dhaka club golf course; I can give you a comparable pricing of Kurmitola golf range.
Entrance fee: TK. 7,00,000/-
( However if you happen to be a member of Bangladesh Armed Forces, you got to pay only Tk. 6,000/- instead of Tk. 7,00,000/-)
Entrance fee: US $10,000 (for permanent membership)
Here are some pictures of Kurmitola golf club (Courtesy KGC Website)
Click on the pictures for a beautiful better resolution.
Unfortunately 12 million minus 1500 people living in Dhaka will NOT have access to this breathtaking beauty.