The University of Dhaka, once known as “Oxford of the East”, has become a topic of discussion because of MRT-6 which is supposed to go straight through its campus. MRT-6, an abbreviation of Mass Rapid Transit, is a strategic transport plan to solve traffic congestion throughout Dhaka by the Bangladesh Government. However, the controversy of MRT-6 for the betterment of our lives doing worse than doing better is still debatable. As such, students of DU have initiated a protest named ‘No Metro on DU’ in order to maintain DU’s healthy education quality. Many protesters have clarified that it is not that they do not want any MRT in Bangladesh’s street. They said, “We are protesting so that our Government can come up with a different route because we feel that this Metro Rail will disrupt our education quality.” They explained that they do want Metro Rail and are not against this. But all they are asking for is a change in its route to ensure a healthy academic environment without any disturbance in the campus.
Increasing population and urbanization have caused a huge influx of vehicles in the capital of Bangladesh. However, the number of roads has not increased at the same rate. As a result, traffic jams in the streets, tremendous pressure from passengers and long queues in the bus stops have become a very regular sight in Dhaka. Thus, not only traffic accidents and environment pollution are the issues that hamper our lives, but also the disruption of socio-economic development. In this very crisis situation, Bangladesh Government came up with a strategic transport plan of 20.1-kilometer long metro rail and this will be known as MRT-6. With the financing of Japan International Cooperation Agency and Dhaka Transportation Coordination Authority, MRT-6 will be the fastest and the most advanced transport system in Bangladesh. This project is scheduled to start in 2016 and will be fully completed by 2021. PM Hasina slates teachers, students for agitations against pay scale, Metrorail
This MRT-6 will start from North Uttara and carry passengers through Pallabi, Begum Rokeya Avenue, Farmgate, Sonargaon Hotel, National Museum, TSC, Doyel Chattar, and end at Motijheel. With the capacity of carrying 60,000 passengers per hour, this train will stop at 16 stations after every 3.5 minutes. According to the previous route map, MRT-6 was supposed to from TSC to Gulistan through Central Shaheed Minar and Dhaka Medical College. But as per the revised route map, now it will go from TSC to Press Club through Bangla Academy and Doyel Chattar. This change in the map was done because of university official’s opposition as the initial route was passing close to women’s dorm, Rokeya Hall. Thus, to avoid inconvenience and hindrance, the route map was changed.
On the one hand, supporters of implementing MRT-6 claim that it is the ultimately viable solution to ease Dhaka traffic. Dhaka is an unplanned city and thus, it faces traffic and road blocks. Unstructured and disorganized private vehicles are the main reason of traffic and road blocks. Dr. Carishma Chowdhury, a transport engineering researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), mentions that Dhaka lacks transport policies to solve problems like traffic jams. Explaining MRT-6 is a good initiative, she added that the best policy for Dhaka right now would be to decrease dependence on private transports and promote public transportation system. Being more environment-friendly, the government is hopeful that MRT-6 will be able to reduce the number of private cars in Dhaka and which in turn will reduce the pollution caused by individual cars. To add on, people irrespective of their financial status, religion or cast will be able to travel which may strengthen the social integrity of the country. Moreover, MRT’s larger capacity offers to carry high efficient engines which will help in saving fuels. Thus, MRT-6 will be a remarkable step towards digital Bangladesh and its development.
On the other hand, arguments against implementing MRT-6 near Doyel Chattar are that it is going to pose possible threats to its academic environment of Dhaka University. Being the pioneer of Bangladesh’s education system, DU is renowned for its quality education. If MRT-6 passes through the campus, it is going to distract students’ attention. Also, the natural beauty of the campus will be affected. To add on, if there is MRT-6, the pillars of Metro Rail are going to take over a huge space of the campus. Thus, students will not be able to study in their own campus because of the lacking of space. Moreover, with MRT-6 comes the question of security. Because of the stoppage at Doyel Chattar, the number of people and hawkers around the campus will increase and thus can make the campus more crowded and insecure. In addition, many important research centers, such as Centre for Advanced Research in Science, are nearby. Hence, having MRT-6 in that area might expose some of the confidential research and thesis papers, and they even can be stolen. Therefore, it raises the question whether MRT-6 will worsen things than doing well for DU students.
As such, students of Dhaka University have decided to stand together to protest changing Metro Rail’s route to save DU on 14th January (probable date) and have called for solidarity to all the people who support their claim. They are going to assemble at Raju Memorial Sculpture for their first meeting on 7th this instant. With their protest, they want to convey their message that “We want Metro rail but not in our campus.” Now, whether the government would listen to these aspiring youth’s voice and change the construction plan or not- is the burning question here.