Authorities demolish Lalbagh Fort wall to build car park

To construct a parking area, a part of the ancient wall surrounding the Lalbagh Fort is broken, tarnishing the main design of the 400-year-old archaeological site   Photo- Mahmud Hossain Opu

Part of the massive ancient wall surrounding Lalbagh Fort, built over 400 years ago when the Mughals founded Dhaka, has been demolished because the archaeological authority wants to build a car park at the cost of Tk30 lakh.

The action has drawn protests from a number of quarters, especially since the government often neglects historical restoration work on a plea of a lack of funds.

Following a visit to the site on Thursday morning, Bangladesh Poribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA) Chairman Abu Naser Khan said: “The construction of the parking area is clearly an adverse action against the main design of Lalbagh Fort. It is also a violation of the Antiquities Act, 1968.”

But Director General Altaf Hossain of the Archaeological Department said: “This will not adversely affect the main design of the fort.”

On the telephone with the Dhaka Tribune yesterday, Altaf added: “But still, I will look into it. If I find something wrong, I will take action.”

POBA’s Abu Naser continued: “They are destroying the boundary wall to build a parking area. But even if they build the parking lot without destroying the wall, the main design will be adversely affected.

“This is about the entire historic site. Anything that changes the main design, whether something is demolished or not, adversely affects the fort’s design.”

“Whenever we ask for traditional and historical monuments to be protected, preserved and restored, the authorities claim a lack of funds makes such work difficult if not impossible. But we see that they have managed to find Tk30 lakh to build a parking lot,” Abu Naser said.

The High Court on October 26, 2011, ordered the authorities concerned to remove illegal structures inside and around the fort.

But the order has been very weakly enforced, and the fort and other historic structures around the city are routinely illegally encroached upon for commercial purposes.

“The Mughal period fort is unprotected in many ways. The parking area, which is only for VIPs, is being constructed in the name of protecting the fort. But the proposed parking lot will benefit a certain interested quarter,” he said.

The parking lot is being constructed near the fort custodian’s office, Abu Naser said, adding: “The custodian has failed to produce any legal document or permission to construct the parking lot.”

“The custodian informed us that the construction of the parking lot was a temporary measure being taken after receiving verbal permission,” Abu Naser told the Dhaka Tribune.

“If this disregard for monuments is displayed by the authorities themselves, we will not be able to protect heritage sites that embody hundreds of years of our history,” he said.

He said POBA demanded an immediate halt to the construction work and punishment for those involved in trying to derive financial and business benefits from the historic site.

Source: Dhaka Tribune