The government has finally suspended felling trees at historic Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital as part of a project to construct a walkway and food kiosks.
“We’ve decided to suspend the tree felling at Suhrawardy Udyan,” Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque told a briefing at his office on Tuesday.The new development came following protests from different quarters and a High Court order asking the authorities concerned to put the tree felling on hold.
The minister said a committee will be formed comprised of architects, urban planners, botanists and environmentalists to decide whether more trees need to be cut down to implement the Swadhinata Stambha Construction (Third Phase) project.
“Some 50 trees have so far been felled to implement the project. We need to cut down 50 more trees. A committee will be formed comprised of experts. They’ll visit the venue and take further decision in this regard,” he said.
Mozammel also said the government will try to save as many trees as possible in the Suhrawardy Udyan while executing the project and redesign it if necessary.
"We’ll change our plan if necessary as per the suggestions of experts and will try to save as many trees as possible. We’ll plant 1,000 saplings in the (Suhrawardy) Udyan to compensate for it," he said.
The minister said they will protect all historic sites related to the Liberation War and freedom of struggle at the Udyan for the interest of protecting history.Responding to another query about the primary design where there was no provision of felling trees, he said, “It’ll be very unfortunate if trees are cut down to construct walkways. It’s against the government’s policy and had it been possible to protect trees by changing the design of the walkways they should have done this.”
"We’ll look into the matter. If the trees are cut down for the walkways despite having the option to save them, we’ll take action against those involved," Mozammel said, adding that they did not discuss the issue earlier as they did not think that problems would arise during the implementation of the project. He said they want to bring 2,000 children from Dhaka and adjoining areas every day at the cost of the government to the Udyan to inform them of the history of the Liberation War once the project is implemented.
The minister said the government took the Tk 265.44-crore project in January 2018 and it will be implemented by June 2022. Under the project, seven food kiosks, a monument of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the place of the historic March 7 speech, a monument at the place of surrender of Pakistani army, a walkway, a mosque and an underground water reservoir, an underground car parking with a capacity of 500 cars and a water fountain will be built.