In the name of development

Does Cubbon Park require a new body for its upkeep?

In the name of development

Since last month, there have been two protests by the Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association (CPWA) against the government’s proposal of forming a new body titled Cubbon Park Development Authority. According to CPWA president S Umesh, this authority spells bad news for the park, which is already in dire need of more security and better overall maintenance.

“There is no need for a separate authority because the horticulture department is already there. Instead of a new body which will seek out higher budgets and pocket large chunks of it, we can replace the inefficient or corrupt officials. These proposals have been made secretly without our knowledge and if a new authority is created, nobody will be able to question it as it will have its own commissioner, members and chairman appointed internally. What’s worse is that in the name of the authority, they’ll start encroaching on public property by constructing offices in the park for themselves,” he states.

“Separate bodies are also being proposed for Nandi Hills and Kemmanagundi but why put public money into that?” he questions.

“There has to be some ulterior motive for wanting a separate body in the first place. They’ll start chopping off trees to make new buildings and add to the problem instead of beefing up security and improving the park. I feel that the horticulture department isn’t doing its best because it is hardly there when required,” adds Asha Sundar, a CPWA member.

Umesh mentions that while the authority promises to look into issues like proper fencing, cleaning of statues and planting grass in the park, the security is what needs to be improved. “Currently, there are three guards across the 192 acres whereas we need at least 25 to 30. You see signs like ‘Don’t bring pets’ or ‘Don’t sit on the grass’ but none of these are executed. Another matter of shame is that our rose gardens don’t even have roses because they’ve all been plucked. We also need to provide basic facilities like drinking water and public toilets,” he points out.

Bannappa, a CPWA member for 10 years, adds, “Once the park’s development falls into the hands of the few, there’ll be no way of saving it for future generations. It’ll be yet another cycle of bureaucracy and red-tapism. Before anything, we need to make it safer for walkers and senior citizens. There have been instances of chain snatching recently, which can be prevented with better security.”

An official in the horticulture department defends the formation of new body stating that it will overcome the limitations of individual departments. “The proposal is still at the consulting stage and nothing is concrete yet. The idea behind the authority is to focus on the overall development of Cubbon Park and bring it to an international level.

It’s currently an unorganised structure with some departments being practically defunct,” says the source, adding, “the horticulture department only looks at garden activities, not buildings, drainage and security. But the authority will integrate the different departments and bridge the missing links.”

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