RAJSHAHI, Mar 25: Nearly 10-kilometre area at the bank of the Padma river surrounding Rajshahi city which was once a place of entertainment and thought as pleasure lovers' paradise, has now has almost turned to garbage piles and slums for the dwellers of thousands of low income group and drug traders and addicts.
Specially, at the riverside surrounding Pathanpara, Dargapara, Panchoboti, Khorbona and Fudkipara areas, thousands of pleasure seekers thronged to sense a touch of nature. After the days toil, those people including students of various schools, colleges, universities, professionals, retired officials and housewives try to plunge into natural surroundings on the bank of the Padma and to breath fresh, clean air.
Former mayor of Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) AHM Khairuzzaman Liton had decorated a vast area beside the Padma with several picnic spots, roads and alleys, restaurants and flower gardens by spending several crore of Taka. The entire areas turned to a haven for pleasure and leisure seekers. Various functions and programmes were organised round the year at the 'Muktamancha' established beside the river.
But, now almost all those pleasure domes have filled with garbage and litters. The entire Muktamancha area is now roamed by cattlehead, goats and flock of sheep and cattle sheds have been set up in places there.
It was noticed, the barbed wire fencing erected by the RCC along the riverside have been stolen or breached. Those free spaces beside the river are now filled with household waste, cow dung and litter emitting obnoxious smell. The environment of the surrounding area has been completely polluted. People \who used to visit the river bank as a part of their daily habit, now cross the areas by holding handkerchief upon their noses.
Small and petty traders who used to earn their livelihood by selling various consumer goods to the pleasure seekers have expressed concern at the grabbing of land and making slums at the free spaces beside the river. Some conscious people of the area want the illegal land grabber, recent slum dwellers and occupiers of the land beside the river are evicted and the area is decorated again with gardens and flowers while some vested quarters want to enjoy the land by grabbing those, making slum there and engaging in drug trading.
Nurul Islam, a petty trader of Mutamacha of Pathanpara area, said once the river bank was decorated for the city dwellers. Now the place has turned into a dirty and unhealthy place. He further said some of local people had recently taken initiative to resume the healthy, nice environment but it was not possible due to some vested quarters and opportunists. He demanded the healthy environment of the area is returned with the elimination of all slums and drug trading there. The clean, healthy environment will also draw more visitors in the area and will create income generation for the unemployed people there.
Ashraful Islam, chief engineer of RCC said the entire area of Mukamancha beside the Padma would be freed from the encroachers. The barbed wire fencing along the river bank will be repaired and a friendly, healthy environment of the area will be resumed soon.