Please don’t play with Cubbon Park

A seven-storey structure is proposed to replace the single-storey building in Cubbon Park. The pristine low-rise, coloured in what I have branded “heritage red” (explained in an article I wrote 14 years ago on the subject), is due to give way to a new, tall structure that will dominate the skyline of Cubbon Park.

Now, what’s new with this? The old has to certainly give way to the new. Space has to be used judiciously. And there sure is demand for space. The proposed High Court Annexe is to be housed here. 

And there stops cogent argument on the subject.

I do believe Bengaluru has reasons to be concerned about this move to build a tall structure within Cubbon Park. And here are my reasons.

1) What’s in a name?

A park is a park. Meade’s Park (as it was named earlier), Cubbon Park (its most popular remembered name) or Chamarajendra Park (its current official name since 1927) is a blissful oasis of lung-space in the heart of the central administrative district of Bengaluru.

The pin code of Cubbon Park is shared by the Vidhana Soudha, the Vikasa Soudha, the High Court, the GPO, the Coffee Board, the Raj Bhavan and 27 other hubs of administration. This sure is the governance district of Bengaluru.

The governance district borders the park on all sides. Cubbon Park and its cousin Lal Bagh represent the two green lung spaces of Bengaluru. Bengaluru has precious little left in terms of its parks and lakes. Protecting every inch of space of the Cubbon Park is the duty of everyone who has an interest in Bengaluru.And here lies the problem: Cubbon Park has already been encroached upon.

Slowly but surely, buildings have come up around the park. A park that is all of the 300-plus acres on paper, is now in fact limited to around 115 acres green space, that is only about 37% of the total area earmarked as Cubbon Park.

There are government buildings, commercial establishments and roads and tanks that occupy space and have eaten into the park already.

Slowly but surely, there has been encroachment into Cubbon Park. The fence has eaten the Park. And the trend is likely to continue if not stopped. The Park is a lung. Please don’t play with it. There is no replacement around.

2) Pace of construction

The construction of a seven-storey structure will take years and the entire eco-system of the park is going to be disturbed with JCBs and construction equipment raking the soil and creating disturbances for the fauna that reside here — besides the birds and the bees and the other animals.

And I am not even talking about the hordes of walkers who make this their pristine space a daily engagement-spot. Even people don’t matter as much as the birds and the bees do, I guess.

And remember, seven-storeys above the ground means several storeys’ below the ground as well!

3) Leading by example

Government buildings must lead by example. Yes, government buildings have special privileges as opposed to private buildings. The government must set an example for others to follow. If the current building in the space must be replaced due to age-related safety issues, they should go ahead and do that. But it should be replaced with a building no larger than the existing one. This will avoid tampering of the eco-system of the park.

4) Heritage argument

Heritage argument is my last one, not my first. The moment you paint a building or utility with “heritage red”, please take care of it as heritage. This goes for everything painted heritage red in Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh. The current building on the location is one such.

Cubbon Park does not belong to us. It belongs to our great-grandchildren and their children.

It belongs to a generation of people who will hopefully show more responsibility to greens, the eco-system, the flora, fauna, lung-spaces and our heritage — hopefully much more responsibility than us for sure.

And please don’t misunderstand my argument. My argument is not about heritage at all. My angst is about your lung space and mine.

Not to speak of the lung-space for those that can’t really speak or shout or yell or protest— the birds, the bees, the trees and the earth beneath us all and the sky above us for sure.

Epilogue: In the end, there was Cubbon Park. Hopefully!

(The writer is a brand guru and Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc)

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