Aesthetics vs safety: Bengaluru parks debate is on

Aesthetics vs safety, beauty vs security: The Bengaluru parks debate is on


During winter session leaves are felled down, Dry leaves spread on the ground looks like dry bed, at Sri Chamarajendra Park (Cubbon park) in Bengaluru. (Photo by S K Dinesh)

A major problem with Indian cities is the lack of open green spaces that are completely accessible to the public. In Bengaluru, any discussion on this inevitably shifts the focus to the city’s two biggest parks, the Lalbagh Botanical Garden and Cubbon Park.

Cubbon Park has grills around it while Lalbagh lies within a concrete wall. Does this affect Lalbagh’s beauty and dull its aesthetic appeal? DH takes a deep dive to ascertain what Bengalureans feel about a proposal to convert part of the Lalbagh wall into grilled barriers.

Sona K Raju, former Assistant Professor at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Science and Technology, has this to say: “As a civil engineer, I feel the concrete wall is better than grilles because it will ensure safety for people and keep the place neat and clean.”

However, she adds, “But the grille will help bring more beauty to the place which concrete walls can never achieve. Besides, concrete walls are also difficult to maintain compared to the grille. The cracks show up easily on walls. If high-quality grilles are used, long life and low-maintenance can be guaranteed.”

25-year-old Felix Shaji, who has been in the city for the last three years, offers his perspective: “Lalbagh is one of my favourite places to hang out as it is clean and green. In my view, concrete walls are better than grilles as they prevent stray animals as well as littering.”

Mimicking foreign ideas is fine but the maintenance aspect needs to be looked at, he notes. “We may try to copy Western ideas but we should also look into how much we are capable of maintaining. Developed countries have proper management systems in place that we lack. So, even if the grilles are in place, it would be tough to manage without adequate staff,” he elaborates.

Tia Johny, a content writer, feels the walls are better than grilles. “The entry fee is affordable in Lalbagh, so there is no need for the grille to get a view from outside. It will create safety problems, especially for children and senior citizens.”

She draws attention to another problem: Of people throwing garbage into the park. “Stray dogs population is high in Bengaluru. So the grille will also increase the chance of the strays entering the Park. People will also start to use the botanical garden space for open defecation. Pickpocketing and other crimes can also occur,” he notes.

READ: Bengaluru: Grilling the Lalbagh wall

Johny is also concerned about the flora and fauna. “It is not only about visitors, the flora and fauna inside the walls get much protection from the existing concrete walls when compared to the grilles. I feel it is better to keep Lalbagh walled so that the quality of the place remains.”

Varshini V, a B.Sc Interior Design student cites another area of concern: The threat of encroachment. “Grilles will indeed increase the aesthetic beauty of Lalbagh, but such a barrier will also increase the risk of encroachment. Concrete walls are safer although they lose out on aesthetics.”

Both concrete walls and grills have their own advantages and disadvantages in terms of safety and aesthetics.

“We can’t always give priority for beauty because safety and cleanliness also matter. If roads are open and visible from inside, Lalbagh will lose its calm and quiet nature. This will, in turn, disturb the visitors who come to escape the noisy and busy city life. For instance, even reading a book in a quiet environment would become difficult,” says Varshini.