People own parks


It is most unfortunate that Horticulture Minister Umesh Katti is persisting with his completely ill-conceived and ill-advised move to make entry into the two biggest lung spaces in Bangalore — the Lal Bagh and the Cubbon Park — to its citizens as difficult and as cumbersome as possible. After strong protests from the people, the horticulture department has dropped, for the time being, the proposal to charge an entry fee for morning walkers and joggers in these two parks, but the minister and his officials have announced that they are ‘determined’ to introduce identity cards for gaining entry into the parks for ‘security reasons’. The minister also wants to take up elaborate fencing of Cubbon Park, restrict the number of entry points and introduce scanners at the gates to keep a check on ‘illegal activities’ inside these public places.

The 240-acre Lal Bagh Botanical Garden, laid out by the visionary ruler Hyder Ali in 1740 and the 250-acre Cubbon Park, created during British rule over 100 years ago, are the pride of Bangalore, earning it the sobriquet of Garden City. As the City has been allowed to grow mindlessly, turning it into a concrete jungle over the last couple of decades, these two parks have offered some respite to the harried citizens. In fact, thousands of people use these parks for their morning and evening constitutional and for their fitness regime. No government in the recent past has had the vision to create another lung space as magnificent as Lal Bagh or Cubbon Park and the authorities should have been happy to merely add more amenities to these parks so that people look after their health and well-being through exercises, rather than placing impediments in their path.

The government has no right to restrict entry into the parks and the idea of identity cards is only a ploy to introduce entry fee at a later stage. If some people indulge in ‘illegal activities’ inside parks, it is the government’s responsibility to check them through suitable security, and not harass a majority of law-abiding citizens. The fact of the matter is that the horticulture department is eyeing lakhs of rupees that can be collected from walkers every day, which will perhaps go into various pockets. The citizens of Bangalore should resist the BJP government’s ‘pernicious tax’ on breathing fresh air in the parks with all their might.

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