The number of open spaces as well as playgrounds is decreasing rapidly in the port city due to uncontrolled and unplanned urbanisation.
Though population of the second largest city of the country is increasing sharply, the lack of sufficient open space hampers the normal mental and physical growth of the children, experts said.The Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) formed master-plan in 1995 aiming at ensuring ten per cent open spaces in the city for the city dwellers.
There were sufficient playgrounds and open spaces during forming the master-plan.
Now Chattogram has two international stadiums and those are accessible for limited number of players.
But, the children require normal playgrounds for recreations and growths in every area of the city.
Besides, most of the available playgrounds in the city are unsuitable for playing and walking. Those remain occupied for holding fairs and meetings or with construction materials.
The experts observed that the crisis of playground is ultimately harming the young generations as they are getting involved and addicted to gang culture, drug and social media due to lack of space for outdoor games.A total of eight teenagers were killed and many injured following practice of gang cultures in the city over the last couple of years, sources said.
Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) prepared a list of 250 teenagers and their ‘big brothers’ to check criminal activities by the under-aged children.
Agrabad Women College former Principal Dr Anwara Alam said current generations have been passing a crucial time as they are addicted to technologies along with the extra burden of study.
“The concerned authorities and policymakers will have to consider future of our children by developing and renovating the playgrounds to ensure sufficient space for their enjoyment,” she said.
Anwara also stressed for not allowing any educational institutions without playground.
Currently, there are a few playgrounds in the city which cannot ensure the sport activities for the children.
There are also some amusement and natural parks like Jamboree Park, Karnaphuli Children Park, Kazir Dewri Children Park, Shadhinota Complex, DC Hill and CRB.
Those are not open or free and have timetable to use them, said the sources.
Mainly, there are two big fields ‘Outer Stadium’ and ‘Parade Field’ where children can play without any bar.
But, the Outer Stadium lost around one-third of it for Swimming Complex and the rest parts remain busy for truck parking and fairs.
Public Works department developed a park at Jamboree field while Polo-ground remains busy with different fairs and Laldighi with political, social and religious programmes.
Besides, different programmes also keep the Halishahar Abahany field, Bawa School field, Jamiatul Falah National Mosque field, Shahjahan Field and Nasirabad School field busy throughout the year.
Sources said Outer Stadium and other traditional field produced some national and international players like Akram Khan, Minhajul Abedin Nannu, Aftab Ahmed, Nafis Iqbal and Tamim Iqbal in cricket and Ashish Bhadro, Iqbal Khan and Dilip Barua in football.
Now, the scope is rare to get environment to become a player of national standard.
Local player Aadil Kabir, who plays in Chattogram Premier Cricket League for Ispahani Sporting Club, said current scenario of outdoor games is disappointing for the raising players.
“We request the concerned authority to repair the existing fields and take initiatives to construct some new fields in the city to ensure the environment for outdoor games,” he said.
Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) Mayor and Chattogram Jela Krira Songstha (CJKS) General Secretary AJM Nasir Uddin told the daily sun that they will renovate the Outer Stadium for sports and walking after ending of the ongoing ‘Green Fair’ and have plan to construct a stadium in Bakalia area.
“There are still some playgrounds occupied by various educational institutions and government departments in the city. I requested the authorities to take care of their fields for sports and stop allowing commercial uses,” he said.
Chattogram Mohanagari Krira Sangstha General Secretary Professor Shayestha Khan said they cannot organise tournaments for the field crisis now.
“Government should raise or keep reserve funds to construct new playgrounds,” he said.