Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said the government may review the master plan of Suhrawardy Udyan to protect trees and the environment.
"After Eid, we will sit down with the project engineers, designers, ecologists, eminent personalities and architects. We will discuss with everyone, how to implement the project while conserving trees and the environment," he said at an emergency press conference at the ministry on Tuesday.
"It is sad if trees are cut down just to build walkways. We will form a committee and present our views to the nation again. We will let you know," he added.
The minister said, "I did not say the design will not change or that it will change. It may change. We will discuss and see if any change is needed."
Referring to the statements of environmentalists and media reports, the minister said, "It is being said that trees are being cut down and there will be restaurants. There are some information gaps here. We will discuss it and take action and we will not cut anymore trees at this moment."
Saying there will be more trees in the park than at present after the implementation of the project, the minister added, "The number of trees in the park will double once the project is fully implemented. Those trees will produce more oxygen than now."
Explaining the master plan, the minister said, "The project will preserve the history of our struggle for freedom. Every day around 50,000 people will come here and we will bring 2,000 students here every day to teach them the history."
The master plan includes the installation of sculptures representing the history of our liberation struggle and liberation war. A statue of Bangabandhu will be erected at the place of the historic speech of 7 March.
It also includes sculptures at the place of surrender of Pakistani invaders, a stage in the name of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, water bodies, fountains etc.
The master plan will relocate the garden of the park to a one-acre plot of land at the back of the temple. Flower shops on the sidewalks of Shahbag will also be relocated to other places to facilitate the movement of people and their vehicles.
The project construction work which started on 1 January 2018, is expected to be completed on 30 June 2022. So far, Tk78 crore has been spent on this project of Tk265.44 crore in total. The financial progress of the project has been 29 percent and construction progress 47%, implemented by the Public Works Department.
Meanwhile, the High Court has issued directives about not cutting down trees in Suhrawardy Udyan for the time being. Attorney General AM Amin Uddin has been asked to take action in this regard.
The HC bench headed by Justice Mamnoon Rahman gave the order verbally on Tuesday. The court also set 20 May for the next hearing of the writ which brought attention to the tree cutting.
Advocate Minhazul Hoque Chowdhury filed the writ petition on behalf of six organisations and one individual with HC on 9 May, demanding that action be taken against the cutting down of trees in Suhrawardy Udyan.
The notice was sent to Dhaka South City Corporation, the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs, Local Government Division, RAJUK, the Department of Environment, and the Department of Public Works.