Demolishing Lalbagh wall is an affront to our heritage

A better way must be found. Preserving the country’s heritage properly is vital

 Photo- MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

The Archaeological Department’s decision to demolish part of the 400-year-old wall surrounding Lalbagh Fort to build a VIP car park is an affront to Dhaka’s civic heritage.

As custodian of this key historical site, it should have more regard to preserving and restoring the main design of the fort. It is unconscionable that it spent Tk30 lakh wrecking this wall.

The reported response of the director general of the Archaeological Department that he does not believe the fort’s design is affected, but will look into the complaints raised by civic groups, betrays the lack of a proper approach to safeguarding the monument.

As it is, the Mughal period fort is already under threat from illegal structures in and around the site, which remain in place contrary to a 2011 High Court order.

For the fort’s custodian to worsen matters by wrecking the main wall in violation of the 1968 Antiquities Act is a gross dereliction of its duty to protect this critical slice of our nation’s heritage.

The Archaeological Department should, at the very least, have undertaken a public consultation and sought to find alternative parking space for visitors in co-operation with city authorities and transport operators.

A better way can and must be found to protect Lalbagh’s heritage while allowing visitors to access the site.

Preserving the country’s heritage properly is vital for our sense of history and cultural identity. The government must ensure that a proper balance is maintained between making heritage sites accessible and properly ensuring their protection.

Source: Dhaka Tribune