The country's history is not protected and preserved effectively, plus there is a lack of promotion of old assets – resulting in a failure to make historical and archaeological sites popular and financially viable, experts said at a webinar on Saturday.
"There is a lack of will to preserve the historical sites," alleged Rounaq Jahan, a political scientist and a distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a Dhaka-based think-tank.
"That is why our new generation does not know enough about our antiquity. Also, textbooks provide a little sense about history, which is not diversified. Further, history is caged in political issues," she continued.
The noted political scientist shared her remarks at the virtual seminar titled "Historic Preservation and Development," organised by the Centre for Inclusive Architecture and Urbanism of Brac University, on Friday night.
"We have a rich history which is our assets and pride, so we need diversity and to make archaeological promotion more attractive," she said.
"To protect our antiquity, along with the government, local institutions have to come forward. Initiatives have to be made by the private sector, too. We have to focus on the display and promotion," she added.
Emphasising the importance of the effective preservation of historical sites, Hossain Zillur Rahman, executive chairman of the Power and Participation Research Centre, said, "We have to make history a part of our life."
"The Teacher and Student Centre (TSC) at Dhaka University and the Kamalapur Railway Station – which are being demolished for development – have a potential demand but it has little impact on life," he said, adding that sometimes development and history clash.
"Actually, the structures are being demolished merely to cater to petty interests," said Zillur Rahman, also former adviser to a caretaker government.
He alleged that the people who are in charge of preserving heritage are not doing their duties properly. He recommended having a passionate dialogue to make change.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), said, according to the constitution, no one may harm, demolish, remove, or disfigure any archaeological site.
She continued that, as per the law, the government is the guardian and will protect and preserve heritage sites.
Mentioning that there was a verdict in 2019 to protect 2,200 archaeological and historical sites, she said, "But, we have yet to get the detailed copy of the verdict."
She called for public dialogue and an agenda, saying otherwise, more sites will be lost in the future – like the TSC and Kamalapur station.
Sajjad Zahir, executive director of Economic Research Group, said, "Our demands are fragmented and everyone cannot agree with a particular history and it becomes more complicated when political interference happens."
"We have to define a definite time from history and tradition to protect and preserve, and each has to be agreed on. Then, we have to take this under a business model to make it viable depending on modernity and growth," he added.