Paradise lost for pensioners in Mangaluru

Paradise lost for pensioners in Mangaluru

Mahatma Gandhi Park near Town Hall in Mangaluru as it used to be.

Suresh complains of not being able to meet his friends and former colleagues at Mahatma Gandhi Park near Town Hall during his weekly trips to Mangaluru.

For many pensioners and elderly people like Suresh, Gandhi Park was a favourite spot to catch up with old times, exchange the all-too-familiar stories of ill-treatment by their siblings and vent out frustration on the cost of living.

For these veterans, time stood still and only when dusk enveloped the park did they use to retrace their steps to their respective homes.

Another pensioner who invites elderly visitors to play chess with him claimed to have spent most of his time at the park.

However, the paradise called Gandhi Park remained out of bounds for the elderly after Mangaluru Smart Mission Limited (MSML) sealed the park for public and dug up the place in order to construct an underpass from Mangalore Central Railway Station to Lady Goschen Hospital.

Members of Mangalore Senior Citizens’ Association told DH that many pensioners left with no options had shifted their meetings to Tagore park near St Aloysius College on Lighthouse hill road.

“But, these pensioners have stopped visiting the park despite it being located in the heart of the city,” a member of the association told DH.

”The park does not convenience senior citizens,” a pensioner informed on condition of anonymity.

The park, one among the 40 parks maintained by Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC), has toilets without water supply. Two fountains in the park had stopped functioning long ago. Due to lack of proper care, the trees became worm-infested and seemed likely to crash on the ground at any moment. Moreover, the stones placed on the walking track were uneven.

“The gardener, while watering the plants, had tipped over one of the uneven stone causing his big toe to bleed,” said sources.

“Instead of inviting danger and invoking the curses of our families, it is better to stay indoors,” a pensioner from Mannagudda said.

Deprived of their favourite spot and peer-banter, the plight of pensioners is similar to birds with broken nests.

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