The Dhaka North City Corporation plans to build a Tk950 crore eco-park around the capital's Kallyanpur retention pond to maintain the canals connected to it and free the area from flood and waterlogging.
The city corporation hopes the project – featuring walkways and footbridges, a biodiversity island, children's playground, flood mitigation measures, waste disposal and management system, rehabilitation residential facility, and other components – will get approval of the authorities concerned within this year.
Architect Iqbal Habib, an adviser for the project and joint general secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, said the retention pond would be surrounded by a water-centric eco-park for which a youth-centric development plan has been drawn up. It will also supply renewable energy and water from its own sources.
He said the project's main task would be to keep the entire area flood-free by holding the excess water of five canals in Kallyanpur.
The project can get approval in a meeting with the prime minister on 4 November, said Iqbal Habib.
"This project needs to be implemented because when the canals are recovered, a blue network will be created in the canals connected to them and the people of the region will be freed from waterlogging forever.
"More water-centric projects like this one are needed for the development of Dhaka," added the environmentalist.
However, illegal occupations of 170 acres of the 173 acres of land of the pond are likely to pose hurdles in the implementation of the plan.
The Dhaka North authorities said it would start building the eco-park next year after removing the illegal occupants.
"Many of the illegal occupants are politically connected. We have already started the eviction activities," Dhaka North Mayor Atiqul Islam told The Business Standard.
Five canals in Kallyanpur connected with this retention pond drain water into it. But, in the last two decades, private establishments and residences have cropped up on these canals and the pond.
A pump house next to the pond is surrounded by several installations and abandoned water bodies filled with pond weed and garbage.
The proposed eco-park spreading over about 182 acres of land will protect the canals in the area and keep the drainage flowing, hope the authorities.
Additionally, a water treatment plant in the project will supply water to the city.
The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority handed over 26 canals of the city to the two city corporations in December last year for maintenance. Since then, the city corporations have been trying to recover the canals.
Environmentalists say this region would be freed from waterlogging forever once the ongoing work to restore canals in Dhaka and setting up the eco-park in Kallyanpur are completed.
There will be over 50 types of development work in more than 10 zones under the project. These include walkways, bicycle lanes, footbridges, butterfly and bird parks, agriculture gardens, jogging track, children's playground, flood mitigation measures, waste disposal and management system, drainage system, accessible open space, rehabilitation facility for people evicted from the area, and a firefighting reservoir.
There will be a youth camp in Zone-1; food court, boat club and a Ferris wheel in Zone-2; a biodiversity island and beekeeping facility in Zone-4; floating restaurant, food hut in Zone-5; and a lotus pond, foot bridge and sitting kiosks in Zone-6.
In addition to that, there will be farm land and Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation's (BADC) cold storage and seed warehouse in Zone-8.
Zone-9 will accommodate a training center, a multipurpose hall, and an exhibition space. There will be a solar-aquatic treatment plant and park in Zone-10.
Rehabilitation of evicted people
Zone-7 in the eco-park will contain a rehabilitation project for the illegal occupants and slum dwellers evicted from the area. The housing area there will have 900 sq ft flats for 200 families, children's play area, boat club, and footbridge.
DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said the evicted people would be rehabilitated there in phases.