CRB, surrounded by hills and hundreds of trees, is a government-declared cultural heritage, says the mayor
The mayor of Chittagong has vowed to resist the planned construction of a hospital in Central Railway Building (CRB) area, considered the port city’s hub of natural oxygen.
CCC Mayor Md Rezaul Karim Chowdhury made the announcement during a views exchange meeting with members of Nagarik Samaj on Tuesday.
The citizens' group has been protesting against the construction of a hospital in CRB area under a public-private partnership between the government and United Hospital.
“We shall not allow construction of any structure, not only the hospital,” the mayor declared.
He said the CRB, surrounded by hills and hundreds of trees, is a government-declared cultural heritage.
“Any structure that destroys its natural beauty and damages the environment will not be allowed here,” said the mayor expressing his solidarity with the protesters.
“The move to build a hospital in CRB is a part of an evil motive which will not be tolerated,” stated Mayor Rezaul, adding: “We all want hospitals but not in CRB.”
If the railway authorities do not allow any other land for building the hospital, the Chattogram City Corporation is ready to provide land, he said.
Vice-Chancellor of Chittagong University Prof Dr Shirin Akter, who was present at the meeting, said the CRB area is sacred as Liberation War martyr student leader Abdur Rab and many other martyrs were buried there.
Building any kind of commercial establishment in the CRB will be dishonouring the memory of the martyrs, she said.
The idea to build a hospital in CRB was first broached at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on August 14, 2013 but the project was finally approved in February 2020.
However, residents of the port city got a rude shock when they came to learn about it on a signboard that appeared at the intended site some weeks ago.
The shock soon turned into a movement against the hospital planned at CRB, and it has kept gaining momentum.
On July 17, they held processions, a tree plantation program, formed a human chain and even engaged in other forms of protests all day.
A legal notice was sent to concerned individuals including the cabinet secretary, secretary of the ministry of railways, director general of Bangladesh railways and a few others by the Bangladesh Human Rights Foundation on behalf of the protestors to remove the hospital site elsewhere.