Experts decry metro route change

The metro rail route through Bijoy Sarani is not at all an obstruction to air operation at Tejgaon airstrip, said noted professionals at a roundtable yesterday refuting air force’s arguments.

Mukto Akash, a monthly magazine, organised the roundtable at Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) in the capital.

The realignment of metro through Khamarbari would definitely spoil the world famous architectural site of the Sangsad Bhaban, as the metro’s turning radius will encroach on 157-feet of its premises, said architect Iqbal Habib, joint secretary of environmentalist group Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon.

Bangladesh Air Force, which raised objections to the 19-metre high metro route along Bijoy Sarani, has been successfully operating helicopters and relief cargo planes with more than 200 tall buildings around the airstrip, he said.

The tall buildings include 22-metre high Novo Theatre in its approach funnel with 33.5-metre high Falcon Tower and 51.82-metre high Trust Bank building in the inner surface. Such structures exist because they complied with international civil aviation rules.

BAF operates helicopters, which do not need a runway, and occasionally the C-130 Hercules relief cargo plane that requires a 4,600-foot (approximately 1.4 kilometres) runway at best. The length of Tejgaon airstrip is 9,800 feet (around 3 km), said Habib.

Officially, Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong is the alternative to Shahjalal International Airport, not the Tejgaon airstrip, he added.

Prof Sarwar Jahan, president of BIP, said the arguments placed by BAF are hollow.

According to Dhaka’s master plan, the airstrip should be turned into a national square with amenities for national and international events, exhibitions, open theatres, public meetings and children’s park, said speakers of the roundtable.

Moreover, neither the airstrip nor Dhaka cantonment fits in the core of the capital that badly needs transport facilities and open space, said Prof Jahan.

Mizanur Rahman Khan, assistant editor of the daily Prothom Alo, said maintaining Tejgaon airstrip as an airport is legally untenable as per the government gazette on Dhaka’s master plan and the Supreme Court verdict in Rangs Bhaban case.

ASM Ismail, chief architect of the government, said BAF’s objection is devoid of reason.

It is not desirable to have a once-abandoned (25 years ago) airstrip impose embargo on the city’s growth or to have strategic military plan for a battle field in the core of the capital, said founder chairman of Biswa Sahitya Kendra Prof Abdullah Abu Sayeed, who chaired the discussion.

Mubasshar Hussein, president of Institute of Architects Bangladesh, among others, spoke at the roundtable moderated by Md Shamsul Alam, editor and publisher of Mukto Akash.

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