A group of environmental activists and students of different universities on Wednesday protested the rampant tree felling at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital as part of a new government project.
Under the banner of Swadhinata Udyan Sangskritik Jote, they formed a human chain at the Suhrawardy Udyan entrance in the afternoon and demanded the project be abolished.
They described a recently approved government project to build restaurants, car parking, and other establishments by erasing greeneries of the park as unnecessary.
"Trees at Suhrawardy Udyan are indiscriminately being cut down in the name of development. It is happening solely for some profit-hungry groups," said poet Bikash Majumder.
He also noted that the project of setting up seven restaurants at the park is a careless decision.
"Seven restaurants will be set up here. Is there any need for so many restaurants in this part of the University of Dhaka?" he added.
Subrata Kumar Das, a Supreme Court lawyer, said all the ongoing development projects are aimed at setting up more brick-and-mortar establishments and not for the environment.
"We expected that the government would spare important green zones like Suhrawardy Udyan and Ramna Park. But Dhaka's oxygen bank, Suhrawardy Udyan, will be demolished," he said.
He further said the park is of historic significance to the entire nation.
"Suhrawardy Udyan is part of two historic moments of the Bangladeshi nation – Bangabandhu's 7 March speech and the surrender of the Pakistan army on 16 December 1971. There is no way we can destroy this historic site," he added.
Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University student Rafin Joy said the government and other stakeholders responsible for the new project should rethink their decision.
Throughout last week, several trees that were over multiple decades old were cut down for building new canteens and other structures, according to locals.