More than a hundred species of trees are being cut down in an effort to modernise Chattogram Children's Park in Kazir Deuri area of Chattogram.
The park is home to around 5,000 trees of more than 100 species that include coconut from Bahrain, cinnamon from Switzerland, Malay apples, devil's cotton, Brazilian coffee, mango, rose apple, jackfruit, Indian gooseberry, guava, banyan, Arabian date, star fruit, sapodilla, agarwood, olive and sweet olives from Switzerland, Australian rose, malta, water chestnut, Malabar nut, tamarind, basil, and Malaysian palm trees.
City planners and architects have proposed to keep the park open and green. The greenery of the park maintains the ecological balance of the city's Circuit House area.
Environmentalists said that ecological balance will be lost, and small bird habitat in the park will be under threat if these trees are cut down in the park.
The 5,000 trees now are subjected to deforestation without permission from the forest department.
While visiting the ground, the correspondent saw the construction activities have begun. A small portion in the park is being dug up to allow construction of the main gate and a pillar has been erected from the ground.
The chopped down trees have been piled up on the eastern end of the park's entrance.
Most of the trees are housed on the eastern end of the park. A mini restaurant called Cafe Chittagong can be seen lodged within the greenery that serves to uniquely beautify the VIP area.
Haji Mahfuz, proprietor of Cafe Chittagong, said, "I have been planting saplings in the park from different regions for fifteen years."
"The trees here are being cut down for the sake of developing amusement rides in the park," he added.
Forest Produce Transit (Control) Rules 2014 states that permission from the forest authorities is required before cutting any tree, whether at the public, private or individual level.
Bakhtiar Nur Siddiqui, an official at the Chattogram Northern Forest Department, said, "They did not take permission to cut down the trees."
As a public institution, no one can cut down the trees without the forest department's permission, he added.
Chattogram City Corporation leased the park for 25 years to a company called 'Via Media Business Services' on November 28, 1998, for a payment of Tk75,000 per month. The contract expired on November 27 this year. The park is being leased to the company again for a fresh 15 years.
In this regard, Akhlas Uddin Ahmed, estate officer of Chattogram City Corporation, said, "Via Media will now pay the city corporation monthly Tk1.5 lakh as lease."
He added that the amount of payment will be changed every 5 years for the coming 15 years of the lease.
Mostafizur Rahman, an officer of Via Media and managing director of the park, said, "I planted many trees around the park myself. We are working to replace the old rides with new ones. For this, no trees will be cut down."
He added that they aim to modernise and standardise the park. "To develop the park, some modern rides, horror houses, hologram projections, 9D cinema halls, aquarium-themed restaurants and a separate food court will be constructed," he said.
Chattogram City Corporation has undertaken a project worth Tk50 crore for the development of the park.
The park's development activities will be aided by a technical support company from China.
Inaugurating the modernisation project of the park, Mayor of Chattogram City Corporation AJM Nasir Uddin said, "This city lacks a standard park. The city corporation plans to build one park in each ward."
He added that the city corporation will establish a park on every vacant and abandoned land in Chattogram.