Arghya. What a beautiful name! Meaning 'offering', it resonates like the soft retreating sound of a symphony. It is the name of an island -not an island in the sea or river but a road island at the confluence of the Mirpur Road and the Green Road. It has been developed as an oasis in this treeless concrete jumble called Dhaka City. But now it finds itself under the axe of city authorities. The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has leased this beauty spot on boulevard to a commercial enterprise which is reported to own the plot on which stands a petrol pump adjacent on its north side. But now the business firm intends to construct structures on the road island in addition to erecting a building on its own plot.
That the city has earned the infamy of becoming the second most unliveable city in the world is not for nothing. Once the city had enough green cover but in the absence of a long-term plan and foresight of the town planners and policymakers, buildings in all sizes and shapes have come up in a random and haphazard manner. With hardly any provision for roads, streets or alleys, open spaces, parks and fields for sports and planned markets and malls, the city has subsequently degenerated into a huge slum. Trees have been felled indiscriminately, ponds and water bodies in and around the city have been filled up to allow construction of both residential and commercial buildings.
Thus the city has turned into a huge body without arteries and lungs. It is gasping for breath, so do its residents. Arghya is a small attempt that started its journey from beautification to green coverage. Already flower plants and a few trees stand with lush growth to offer a pleasant sight to behold. Now all this will vanish if the commercial firm can go ahead with its plan. Environmental groups and rights activists have rightly demanded cancellation of the lease in order to save Arghya.
Sure enough, if the island is leased to the firm, the DSCC will earn some revenue but the damage done would be immeasurably high. It cannot be measured in terms of money and immediate profit. In fact, the protesting environmentalists have also demanded no construction on the plot of the petrol pump. If that plot is included to the island along with a triangle-shaped little one just on its south side and developed as a park or tree-covered boulevard, the busy intersection of Science Laboratory and the surrounding area will get enough natural cooling system for its comfort.
Instead of destroying the little green cover Dhaka City has, it should go for massive tree plantation at every possible vacant space. If it calls for demolishing some dispensable concrete structures on roadsides and elsewhere, so be it. Dhaka's unliveable conditions can be greatly reduced by means of intensifying tree covering all across the city. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged every citizen to plant at least three saplings. If Dhaka residents can do this, the capital city will bear an eye-soothing look and a tolerable weather even in high summer.
Bangalore is a shining example of how a city can be tree and greenery-friendly. Everywhere one looks, there are the green friends all around as if they are assuring you 'why fear of temperature? We are here to keep you cool.' There is no reason why Dhaka cannot develop a verdant canopy to invite rain and cool breeze where flocks of feathery friends will also return to make it a haven for them as well. The quality of the environment will thus improve beyond expectation.