In the name of modernisation and beautification, Chattogram City Corporation is building shops in Biplob Udyan, a park which bears the memory of the Liberation War.
Some 25 shops have already been constructed on the east side of the park. Establishments like food courts are also being set up.
The city corporation says revamping the park will benefit the visitors, but urban planners have criticised the construction of commercial structures in the open site.
Subhash Chandra Barua, a city planner and vice-president of Planned Chattogram, told The Business Standard, "Food courts and game zones are not necessary for entertainment. An open ground is a real place for entertainment."
"The city corporation has been setting up commercial structures in the park to serve its own interests. The park could have been modernised by planting some trees and renovating benches where visitors sit, but that was not done," he explained.
The Public Works Department completed the modernisation of Jamboree Park, a big entertainment centre in the port city, on September 8 last year without building any enterprise there.
The open park sits on eight acres of land, and has now become a major recreational site in the city.
Shamsuddoha, chief executive officer at Chattogram City Corporation, said there will be a game zone and a food court in the park.
"Two organisations are in charge of the park's maintenance. A 20-year agreement has been signed with them. They are carrying out the modernisation tasks," he said.
The city corporation on November 28 last year leased Biplob Udyan out to Reform Limited and Style Living Architects Limited. The two firms are using their own finance to modernise the park.
Mizanur Rahman, chairman of Style Living Architects Limited, said about Tk8 crore is required for the park's modernisation and shops will be leased to recover that money.
He said all movements that took place in the country, including the 1952 Language Movement, and The Liberation War would be depicted in the park as part of modernisation.
"This will help the young generation learn the history. There will be a mobile school. The game zone will be open to the underprivileged once a week. The park will have no entry fee," added Mizanur.
However, city dwellers are doubtful about whether they will be able to spend time in the park like they did before.
Monwara Begum, a resident of Nasirabad residential area adjacent to the park, said, "After I was diagnosed with diabetes, I started walking in the park in the morning and evening every day. But many shops are being set up there now."
"This will increase the number of people roaming around the park. The park will no longer be as tranquil as it used to be," she added.
Incumbent Mayor AJM Nasir Uddin, after taking office in 2016, started taking initiatives to give the city a facelift in order to transform it into a modern one.
The city corporation first began with modernising the passenger sheds. It also began allotting shops there. Since then, the shop owners have taken control of the passenger sheds.
Nowadays, many sheds are crowded by the customers of the shops instead of passengers.
Biplob Udyan was set up on a two-acre land in 1979, and no commercial structure was set up after its inauguration.
The city corporation, however, has started constructing establishments there all on a sudden.