The government is planning to establish parks in every upazila across the country, given the shrinking options of healthy entertainment for children.
“The government realises the necessity of having parks in upazilas as playgrounds are vanishing due to rapid urbanisation. A policy is already in place and actions will be taken soon,” Housing and Public Works Minister Mosharraf Hossain told this correspondent in November.
“Parks are crucial for physical and mental development of children, so we will take prompt steps in this regard. We may not be able to establish parks in all the upazilas at a time but we will pick one and gradually cover the rest,” Mosharraf said.
Akhter Hossain, additional secretary to the ministry, said, “The issue was ignored earlier as the schools in the upazilas had playgrounds. But to keep pace with urbanisation, many schools and colleges are mushrooming with no playgrounds.”
NO PARK IN 14 CTG UPAZILAS
Only one of the 15 upazilas in Chattogram has a children's park, and that too has been in a dilapidated state for a long time, according to locals. As a result, children are being deprived of healthy entertainment, they added.
Sheikh Fakhruddin Kabir Chowdhury, former mayor of Banshkhali Municipality, said there was an eco-park in his upazila, but no park for children.
“As there is no park, children usually pass their leisure playing video games, gossiping or playing on the streets, which is dangerous,” he said, adding that there is also a scarcity of playgrounds in the upazila.
Mahbubul Alam Chowdhury, chairman of Hathazari Upazila Parishad, he had built a small park as there was no park for children in his upazila.
Abdur Rahman, assistant professor of psychology at Chittagong University, said amusement is a basic need of children and parks are necessary in this regard.
“When there is no park or playground, all they [children] do is sit home and play video games or watch television. This deprives them of social interaction and puts them under risk of obesity,” he added.
Premier University Vice-Chancellor Prof Anupam Sen echoed him.
The lone park in Patiya upazila has been in shambles with broken rides for years. Locals alleged that Chattogram Zila Parishad, responsible for its maintenance, once appointed a caretaker but did not supervise the situation later.
Patiya Municipality Mayor Harun-ur-Rashid said his demand for reinstallation of rides in the park had been unheeded.
Asked, MA Salam, chairman of the parishad, said the rides were repaired earlier but they broke down again. “We will repair those immediately and eventually give the park a facelift.”