Tension runs high as leaders of sports bodies and environmental organizations stand face to face issuing harsh statements countering each other centering the “occupation” of Dhanmondi Playground by the Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Ltd [SJDCL]. In the latest development, President of Bangladesh Cricket Board [BCB] Nazmul Hasan Papon, MP, President of Bangladesh Football Federation [BFF] , Kazi Md Salauddin Ahmad and some other sports personalities have expressed their solidarity to SJDCL. But several environmental and social organisations including Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, Institute of Architecture Bangladesh, Ain O Salish Kendra, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association [BELA] and Centre for Urban Studies have strongly protested the SJDCL initiatives terming it as “illegal land grabbing”. Protesting the move, they said the SJDCL has no legal authority to grab the playground in the name of sports complex, which is a public property while it is the only breathing space in the entire Dhanmondi area for the people. “The club has always got support from the state machinery for the occupation of the playground,” BAPA leader Iqbal Habib said. Earlier, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, executive director of BELA said,” It is a big question; how this vested group has occupied this playground violating the court orders. I urge the government to stop these activities and give it back to general people.” “Depriving children from playing is not accepted. It is an injustice when we see the government tries to serve the purpose of a vested group ignoring the public interest,” she said.Dhanmondi — the first planned residential area of the city– was established by Public Works Department ensuring adequate facilities like playgrounds, open spaces and visiting spots for children and youths. The Dhanmondi playground on 13.5 bigha of land was open for all, officials said. Its fate was changed after altering the name of Dhanmodi Club in 2009, which was named after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s slain brother Sheikh Jamal. Since then, the Dhanmondi playground-a part of Dhanmondi residential area -has been occupied by the SJDCL, they added. Meanwhile, the situation has taken a worse turn when the SJDCL authority on Friday filed a case with Dhanmondi Police Station against some environmentalists after they staged demonstration protesting “occupation” of Dhanmondi playground by the club. The case was filed by Arifur Rahman, general secretary of SJDCL, accusing several persons including former president of Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh Mobassher Hossain and Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon Iqbal Habib. “I really don’t understand what’s the problem if there is a sporting complex? Dhanmondi playground is a wonderful sporting area and the initiatives of SJDCL are not hampering the existing environment. I can’t imagine why the environmentalists have taken such negative approach?” Kazi Salahuddin told The New Nation on Saturday. He said: Now, the LGRD is constructing a sports arena. I promise, the BFF will provide all sorts of support needed by Sheikh Jamal Academy. At the same time, I will provide cooperation to any club who want to build football academies. Expressing his organizational support to the initiatives of SJDCL, BCB chief Nazmul Hasan Papon said that he would do anything needed to fulfill the project of SJDCL and ensure healthy sports infrastructure in the country. “There will be four sport complexes, including badminton and tennis courts. It will be open for everyone. Locals will get necessary facilities there. So, I don’t understand why the environmentalists are trying to create obstruction,” he said. According to officials, the LGED is now constructing two badminton courts, two tennis courts and a basketball court at Dhanmondi playground, which is now under the jurisdictions of Dhaka South City Corporation. Besides, the government has also plan to build a full-fledged sports academy there, the officials added. The High Court, following a writ petition, had passed an order on March 15, 2011 asking the then Dhaka City Corporation to recover the playground from the club and open it for all giving 15 days timeframe.