Any honest intention upon implementing it flawlessly can be called an achievement. The FE photograph (01.06. 2022) of the radically renovated banks of the Turag River near Dhaka's Amin Bazar Bridge speaks of such a feat eloquently. In its new appearance, the river at Amin Bazar in greater Savar, especially its newly built embankment beside a clean walkway, constitutes an eye-soothing, idyllic site. Only late last year, the area was filled with revolting features. They ranged from the fetid water of the river, dingy commercial sheds and structures, ramshackle engine boats docked along the 'ghat' to other infrastructural eyesores built privately. Lots of credit for this makeover goes to the BIWTA. For the inland water transport authority, clearing the area of the syndicates of encroachers once proved an uphill task. Because the river bank grabbers veritably occupied vast stretches of government lands there.
Unlike in the past, this time the government authorities didn't budge. They were determined to free the vital river bank from the encroachers. In completing the vital task, they placed concrete blocks along the river bank to save it from erosion. In order to give it a finishing task, they have given the site the look of a leisure spot by placing concrete benches under shade trees. A promenade has added to the spot's beauty.
The construction of the pastime site reminds many of the walkway along the Buckland Bund on the northern side of the Buriganga River. After its construction by Dhaka's then British commissioner Thomas Buckland in 1864, the riverside promenade continued to draw droves of the city's leisure-seekers to the spot filled with cool breeze. However, with the British colonial rule over in 1947, the Buckland Bund began falling into decay. Its continued neglect by the municipal authorities, and the Dhaka residents' mindless grabbing of the Buckland Bund areas led to the full disappearance of the riverside leisure spot. In a decade, the place witnessed the mushrooming of makeshift eateries, roadside business outlets and rows of shanties, contributing to the start of Buriganga's water pollution.
At long last, the replacement of the 'ghats', catering to giant country boats carrying jute and other cargo loads, with a number of motor launch terminals drove the last nail to the coffin of the famed spot of Buckland walkway. In a few years, a full-scale and unstoppable process of decay set in. Today, like many attractions of old-time Dhaka, the Buckland Bund and many other public, as well as historical spots have found place in the yellowing pages of history. The Baldah Garden Botanical Park, the Bahadur Shah Park, the Lalbagh Fort, with its ramparts, include them.
While dealing with the revival of a large city's past glory, a universal adage flashes across the mind. It says when there is a will, there is a way. The first and the foremost objective of the present two city corporations should be the efforts to make Dhaka a livable city. It can begin with making the ever-expanding and unwieldy city free of its scores of blights. Monsoon water-logging, traffic gridlocks, rash driving and fatal accidents etc are some of the prominent ones. Add to them the practice of jaywalking by a large section of city residents.
Many raise the query as to what prevents a section of people, including youths, from using safe foot over-bridges, and tempts them to wriggle through the iron fencings on road islands courting physical hazards. The over-bridges are not far from the hazardous short-cuts. What prompts people to avert a safe road-crossing means is the trouble they have to undergo in climbing over-bridges. There is a strong will to check aberrant urban practices. What the authorities lack are the efficacious ways to stop them.