Paying more for nothing

Paying more for nothing

Paying more for nothing
It’s been a little over a week since the entry fee to the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens was hiked from Rs 10 per person to Rs 20. The hike has drawn mixed reactions from tourists, regular visitors to the park and walkers. They say the hike is justified only if the garden is well-maintained which doesn’t, however, seem to be the case.

Salim, a tourist from Kerala, visiting the park with his family, says, “Lalbagh is the foremost tourist attraction in the City but there aren’t enough facilities like good toilets, for instance. There isn’t adequate security either. These are basic amenities that are missing. Then why charge a fee? It is like any other park.” Janardhan, a senior citizen and regular walker, agrees with Salim. “The park must not charge a fee at all from anybody who is coming here. Charging a fee is unfair,” he says.

There’s another group that believes that nothing comes free and that it is only fair to charge a fee. A few other regular walkers like GV Bhandari and Murthy think that the hike is totally justified. “You need money to maintain a huge space like this. This is not a park but a botanical garden and that in itself justifies why a fee must be charged,” they say. Shyam, a chartered accountant, adds, “They must charge everybody who walks in and maintain the park well.”

The rare species of plants and flowers draw a lot of botanical enthusiasts to the 240-acre lung space. There are also a lot of foreigners and even NRIs who don’t leave the City without visiting Lalbagh. Meena and her children Sheetal and Hiren have settled in the US and are visiting Bengaluru for a while.

“We were advised to visit Lalbagh but one of the first things that greeted us there was a heap of garbage. We found similar heaps in every corner of the park. Cleanliness is a basic thing and it is not adhered to there,” says Sheetal who feels the maintenance standards have not kept pace with the entry fee.

Hiren and Meena think signboards and maps would have been helpful for tourists to navigate their way through the park. “We were lost when we got in here initially,” they rue.

There was also a group from Manipur, comprising Nehemiah, Zingsho and Pangray, who was asked to visit Lalbagh when in Bengaluru. “This is our first visit to Lalbagh but we can say that our gardens back home are better maintained than this one. We don’t mind paying money to enter but when you enter, the facilities aren’t enough,” say Nehemiah and Zingsho.   

Germans Yves and Elisa, who are visiting Bengaluru, feel a fee is justified since it is not just another park but a botanical garden. “The many different and rare species of plants serve as a perfect study material for students,” feels Elisa.

Yves pitches in, saying, “We don’t have too many parks in Germany charging a fee but they are all maintained well. I was taken aback when I saw a couple of dogs roaming around and people throwing paper on the ground without any concern. This is all new to me,” he says.  

Lalbagh not only draws tourists but people from across the City. Nandini and her mother Kalpana, who had driven from Banaswadi to Lalbagh, say the hike is ‘ridiculous’. “There’s garbage all over and the places in and around the nursery stink. It is unfair to maintain the place so badly and still charge a fee,” reasons Nandini.

Those who have been coming to Lalbagh for over a decade say that there are definite problems that beg for an urgent solution.  Dr Soumya SV, a medical practitioner who has been a regular for the last 15 years, thinks that a lot needs to be done to ensure that the premises of Lalbagh are rendered safe.

“The streetlights must be kept on until 8 pm and private vehicles should be stopped at the entrance and not permitted to go inside the Lalbagh premises,” feels Soumya. She also feels that the place continues to have litter and plastic strewn around because vendors are let in. “Vendors must be banned from selling within the premises. This will considerably reduce litter,” she suggests.