History we cherish, history we discard

5 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Bahadur Shah Park, the famous heritage site in the old part of the city had been left in the lurch for a long period. Because of being left uncared for over a protracted period, this historic place has reportedly turned into a safe haven for drug addicts. From a monument of historic importance it has become a monument of negligence by the city father.

However, the Dhaka South City Corporation has finally come to its senses to take steps to preserve and beautify the landmark.  Though belated, the decision of DSCC deserves a clap from history-conscious people of the country. It will bring relief to health conscious residents who frequent the park for morning walk and relaxation.

Much to the expectation of the citizens, DSCC has decided to give the park a new facelift under its Jol Shoubuje Dhaka Project. The renovation work under the project correctly aims at preserving the historical monument, ensuring access for all by adding more facilities for users and stopping all sorts of anti-social activities. DSCC claims that after the implementation of the beautification plan, the monument, with its short history on display, will attract more people.

All this sounds good. But what makes us apprehensive is whether the heritage value of the park will be preserved properly. It is gathered from a front page story of this daily that the octagonal fountain that had been in the park for a long period has already been demolished because, DSCC thinks, it has no heritage value. But the question is who decided, and how, that it is not worth preserving. Did they consult experts and seek opinion from the visitors? Local people have reportedly demanded restoration of the fountain.

DSCC has decided to display a short history of the park. Very well! But, again, who will decide – and how – which part of the history is worth preserving and which is to be discarded? The historic park has a colonial legacy that we disown and another aspect that deserves to be cherished. Only an expert committee comprising of patriotic and history-conscious people can help to ensure that DSCC moves on to the right track.