The municipality sought a 2.63 acre area of the abandoned jail building located on Old Jail Road to construct a children’s park
Wahedul Ilham Adhir, a grade-one student of a kindergarten in Brahmanbaria town, is compelled to play video games and watch cartoons on YouTube on laptop in his spare time instead of playing in open field and hanging out in park.
His parents said he loves to go on an outing but cannot do so as there are no parks or other facilities for recreation during his leisure.
They expressed concern over their child's proper mental and physical growth as the boy is addicted to digital technologies. But they are unable to refrain Adhir from dependency on smartphone or laptop due to lack of parks and other recreational facilities in the town.
Like Adhir, many children have to face the same troubles due to lack of adequate recreational facilities in their municipal town.
However, digital technology is increasingly changing their childhood.
Regarding the issue, Brahmanbaria District Children Affairs Officer Mahfuza Akhter said the children of the town are deprived of adequate facilities like playgrounds, parks and open spaces for playing games and hanging out.
"As a result, they are addicted to smartphones and computers sitting idle at home."
She expressed her grave concern about the bad impacts on mental health and intellectual growth of children due to addiction to digital technologies.
Children's participation in sports and recreational activities have to be increased to overcome the situation, the children affairs officer suggested.
But there is no end to Brahmanbaria town dwellers' cry for a children's park (shishu park) though the municipal authority allocated Tk1 crore for constructing one in the last three fiscal years, including FY20.
Established in 1868, the Brahmanbaria municipality has two lakh population in its 11.5 square kilometre area. Though Brahmanbaria district is known as "the cultural capital of Bangladesh", there is lack of adequate parks and other recreational facilities.
Even the rides of children set up at the "Faruki Park (Shahid Smriti Shaudha)" located in Obokash area of the town are in a miserable state due to lack of proper maintenance.
For this, after school, children have no option for hanging out instead of spending time at home and getting dependent on technology and associated gadgets.
The municipality wants to construct a children's park on the 2.63 acre area of the abandoned jail building located on Old Jail Road. A letter has been sent to the Ministry of Land to get permission for the use of the public land, said municipality officials.
But one of the outposts of Brahmanbaria Sadar Model Police Station is housed in the old jail building.
As there is no government allocation for constructing a park in this location, we will construct the park with our own funds, municipality officials added.
Civil Society representatives urged the municipal authority to search for lands in an alternative location to construct the park instead of spending more time to get permission for using the old jail land.
Pijush Kanti Acharya, president of the Brahmanbaria Nagorik Forum, told The Business Standard the municipality allocates funds in its budget every year for constructing a children's park but it is yet to be built.
"As a result, lack of adequate facility for recreation hampers our children's proper physical growth. Besides, it may increase their risk of developing mental disorder."
He urged the municipality mayor to take effective measures to arrange recreational facilities for children as early as possible.
Brahmanbaria Civil Surgeon Dr Shah Alam said sports and recreation are a must for proper mental and physical growth of children but many schools in the town have no playground.
"Besides, there is no recreational spot where children can hang out. So, they have to stay idle at home, and get addicted to smartphone and computer," he added.
Brahmanbaria Municipality Mayor Nayar Kabir said, "We have sought the land of old jail for constructing a children's park. The district police also sought 15 percent of that land for an outpost.
"We wanted the remaining land for the park but are yet to get it. So, construction of the park has not started yet".
He said municipality land in Titaspara area would be used for constructing the park if the old jail land could not be availed from the ministry.