No ‘park’ing here

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For Bengalureans who are already stressed due to hectic work schedules and nerve-wracking
traffic, a little time spent in the neighbourhood park could work wonders. But more often than not, these parks are kept locked, and are accessible for just a couple of hours in the mornings and evenings. With over 1,000 parks across the city, management of these vital green spaces needs a relook, reports Chandrashekar G.

Its ironical. You live in a Garden City but cannot enjoy the parks that give it this label unless you are an early bird or don’t stay late at work.

Thanks to the BBMP you can use the parks round the corner in your neighbourhood only for a few hours both in the mornings and evenings.

The rest of the time all you can do is look wistfully through locked gates into the shady green of these oases amidst bustling traffic, and walk sadly away. For children on summer holidays and the old and retired this can be quite a torture.

In its zeal to keep the parks safe from the riff raff who may choose to visit it, the BBMP has cut off access to them for much of the day, forgetting that they are important lung spaces in a city getting more polluted by the day and offer respite to people caught in the humdrum of daily life otherwise.

For the over 10 lakh IT professionals who often work 24/7 this is an inconvenience that deprives them of much needed exercise and which may even eventually tell on their health.

“In a polluted city like Bengaluru, people need to find escape from the smoke and grime all around them. The parks are perfect getaways for passersby or pedestrians too who may like to take a break and spend a few peaceful minutes in them. Why cannot they be kept open from 5 am to 9 pm?” asks C. Gopinath, a member of the M. N. Krishnarao Park Senior Citizens Walkers’ Association.

While he agrees that the parks could also draw those not looking to merely spend some innocent hours amidst their greenery, he suggests such elements can be kept at bay if the BBMP arranges adequate security around them.

“We live in a city where at least 15 per cent of the people suffer from diabetes and blood pressure. So parks are essential to help people keep fit. But the BBMP is doing the techies who work all hours and people on night shifts a huge disservice by restricting the hours the public can use these neighbourhood parks,” he regrets.

‘Involve senior citizens in management’

If its manpower that is stopping the BBMP from keeping its parks open for longer, it should involve resident welfare associations to help manage them, suggest a number of Bengalureans, who are keen on having the freedom to walk in their neighbourhood gardens whenever they please, rather than at times chosen by the civic agency in the name of keeping them safe.

“Senior citizens too who often visit the parks would gladly be part of a committee to manage them and help come up with ways to find resources to hire more staff needed to care for them,” they say.
A resident of Jayanagar, P. Amarnath feels the BBMP needs to do a lot more to maintain the parks. It first needs to ensure it has enough water and manure to keep them green, he says.

“With the onset of summer many parks are beginning to look drab because there isn’t enough water for their plants and trees,” he observes, advising the authorities to, “Get the large number of senior citizens, who regularly visit parks and are concerned about their upkeep to suggest ways to improve their maintenance and still keep them open for visitors all through the day.”

Other nature lovers point out that the parks usually see young walkers and joggers until 10 am, and again after 4 pm in the evenings, while senior citizens, find it difficult to get out at the times stipulated by the BBMP. “They are left with nowhere to go. Its time their needs were thought of as well,” they stress.

My view

Dr Meenakshi Bharath, member, Citizens’ Action Forum (CAF)

People of the city have the right to go to parks when they please. Allowing them entry only between 5 am and 9 am and 4 pm and 9 pm is ridiculous when Bengaluru calls itself the Garden City.

When children are getting addicted to television and computers, the BBMP can help by keeping the parks open at all times, so that they have reason to step out and breathe some fresh air. Children could learn about birds and the species of trees there. This may nurture in them a love for nature and the need to keep the city green.

Parks help community health as people use them for exercise and relaxation. In fact, parks and playgrounds help both mental and physical development of children. To keep them free of elements that can prove to be a nuisance to the regulars, the BBMP could introduce penalties or do more to instill civic sense among the people in general.

When the taxpayers’ money is used for the upkeep of parks, its wrong to restrict people from using them. Now that the summer is here, its all the more reason for the BBMP to keep the parks open all through the day.

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