Members of a laughter club, who gathered at a famous public park in the city every morning for a regular dose of guffaws, got a rude shock when the Forest Department issued a notice banning their entry to prevent disturbing of habitat.
Forest officials have banned laughing on the K B R park premises on the grounds that loud sounds would “scare away” animals and birds and disturb the habitat. Members of K B R Haasya Yoga Club, who strongly believe in the therapeutic benefits of laughing as an exercise, argued that the ban was an infringement of their fundamental rights.
Located in the heart of the city at Jubilee Hills, the 390-acre K B R Park has been given the status of a national park and is under the control of the Forest Department. A favourite spot for the morning walkers, young and old, the park has over 600 species of plant life, 140 species of birds and 30 different varieties of butterflies and reptiles.
“The Forest Department’s objections are completely unreasonable. As citizens of this country, we have the right to de-stress ourselves by way of laughing and no one can stop us,” contended Rahul Singhal, secretary of the Haasya Yoga Club.
The laughing club recently approached the high court, which has stayed the order and directed the forest officials to “earmark” a small area within the park premises for the club members to continue their exercise.
However, forest officials are preparing to approach the high court, arguing that the Wildlife Protection Act bars people from making loud sounds, including laughing inside a national park.
Divisional Forest Officer Kondal Mohan said that according to section 28 and section 35 of the Wildlife Protection Act, laughing or crying is an offence as it amounts to disturbing the habitat. “The court has directed for demarcating the land (for laughing exercise) within the purview of the Act, but the Act does not give scope for demarcation,” he argued.
There are many who feel that laughing as a community exercise will help people to de-stress themselves and improve their health condition. It is argued that more than 70 per cent of the lifestyle related conditions like high blood pressure, anxiety and depression and heart diseases can be cured by regular doses of laughter.
However, State Commissioner of Sericulture C S Rama Lakshmi said human activities in national parks should be kept at a minimum level as animals get “annoyed by the noise.”