Rethink decision

The state government must rethink its decision to convert chunks of verdant park land in the City into a parking lot. It has allotted roughly 18,028 square metres of land between the high court and the old KGID building adjacent to the Ambedkar Veedhi for a parking lot to accommodate vehicles of judges, lawyers and others visiting the high court.That the there is a need for parking space is not disputed. After all, the number of people coming to the court has grown sharply over the years. They need space to park their vehicles. Besides, the construction of a new canteen on the court premises will eat up already limited parking space. However, converting park area into a parking lot is not the best solution. Bangalore’s legendary public parks are becoming a rarity with several gardens making way for various road and transport projects. Cubbon Park and Lalbagh are among the last stretches of green left in the City. And even these are shrinking. Around 1,135 square metres of Lalbagh has been lost to construction of the Metro as has the promenade on Mahatma Gandhi Road. Buildings have come up on tracts of land near the high court eroding Cubbon Park’s greenery.

Unlike in the past when parking was allowed in Cubbon Park as a temporary arrangement, this time the government has acted to make it permanent. It pushed through legislation quietly to pre-empt public protest. Converting park land into parking spaces each time the demand for the latter grows is not the way to go about the problem. Parking space must be found outside the park. Or the high court should be moved. As demand for parking space near the high court grows in the coming years, will the government keep eating into Cubbon Park? It does seem so, given its approach to the problem.

Cubbon Park is not just real estate that is available for ‘developing.’ It is a park and a historical and environmental landmark of Bangalore. Its value lies in its trees and grass, the shade and coolness these provide and the lung space the greenery has given Bangaloreans for centuries. But the government is systematically destroying by converting park land into concrete jungle. And it is this that Bangaloreans must fight to preserve. The government must be pushed to change its flawed approach to finding parking space around the high court. Civil society should step in with ideas.

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