Chaos in the oasis

Green Space

Chaos in the oasis

The construction of parking lot on a five-acre space in Lalbagh has been shelved for now in the face of stiff resistance from walkers and environmentalists, who believe that the only green space in the City is under threat of rampant commercialisation. Parking means pollution, they reason, and this will shatter the serene environs of Lalbagh.

The parking issue has thrown up a host of other problems faced by walkers and visitors to Lalbagh, such as the stray-dog menace, vendors who litter the park, lack of proper toilets and good drinking water. Metrolife interacts with regular walkers to understand what problems they face.

Jagadeesha K G, director, Horticulture, informs that at present, there is space for 200 vehicles to park inside Lalbagh. “A committee will be constituted to decide what has to be done to the space for the proposed parking lot, which is unfit to grow any trees. We had approached the BMTC bus stand in Shantinagar for parking, so that people can park there and walk to Lalbagh,” he says.

On the issue of the stray dogs, Jagadeesha says that he ensures that all of them are sterilised. “We also have a veterinary doctor, who comes once in six months to a year to check on the dogs for any diseases,” he adds. He further points out that there are five toilet blocks in Lalbagh and the suggestion to construct more was again met with a lot of opposition. When asked about the drinking water issue, he says “We plan to rope in a reputed company to either supply free water or charge for it. The plan is under consideration.”   

Environmental activist Suresh Heblikar states that Lalbagh has been scientifically classified as a ‘botanical garden’ and not a ‘park’, as many people believe. “There are hundreds of rare species of trees inside Lalbagh that have withstood the test of time. This is the only green space we have and it must remain undisturbed,” he notes.  

Regular walkers have been coming to Lalbagh for over a decade. They say they will never allow commercialisation to creep into this area. Ramana, a retired person who lives in Girinagar, has been visiting Lalbagh since 1972.

He says, “There’s so much commercialisation these days that we have to literally pay to get some fresh air. Lalbagh must be preserved for the future generation. Letting vehicles inside will pollute the place and scare away the birds.” Shivakumar, a banker, adds, “I don’t like to be hounded  by hawkers when I am walking.”

Anu Govindaraj, a housewife who lives near Ashoka Pillar in Jayanagar and walks regularly in Lalbagh, points out, “There isn’t enough drinking water and the pay-and-use toilets here are not very well-maintained. There are a lot of couples who roam around and I feel quite ashamed when I see them doing things that they shouldn’t be doing, in public.”

Ramya, a techie who works with an IT company, holds a different view. She feels that parking is necessary for the walkers who drive to Lalbagh. “Where else will they park?” she questions.

 “But again, the parking facility must not be organised at the cost of the beauty of the place. If ordinary people’s vehicles are not allowed, then even the officials must not be allowed to bring in their cars,” she concludes.

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