Bangalore residents succeed in keeping entry to parks free

December 11th, 2009 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Dec 11 (IANS) Groups of determined Bangaloreans have forced the state government to drop its plan to curb free entry of fitness enthusiasts - morning/evening walkers, joggers and the like - to the city’s two landmark parks.
The Karnataka horticulture department that looks after Lalbagh and Cubbon Park gave up the move to introduce ID cards for the regular morning/evening visitors to the two sprawling lung spaces of the tech hub.

While entry to Lalbagh, spread over 240 acres in south Bangalore, is ticketed during day, for decades, fitness enthusiasts have been flocking to it in the mornings and evenings without any restrictions.

In contrast, access to the 330-acre Cubbon Park, across the state secretariat Vidhana Soudha in city centre, is free throughout the day.

Citing need for heightened security at all public places and also to raise funds for the upkeep of the two parks, the horticulture department proposed ID card for regular morning/evening walkers and fitness buffs at a cost of Rs.200 per year for adults and Rs.100 for children under 12.

The move incensed citizen groups, which thought this was the first step to turn the city’s public parks into a sort of private space and organised series of protests since November when the department announced its plan.

“The government has taken the right decision. I welcome the decision. Citizens should have free access to parks and public spaces without any hassles. Introduction of ID cards is not going to solve security concerns of the government,” M.R. Doreswamy, president of Lalbagh Walkers’ Association, told IANS Friday.

The protests were led by various citizen groups, including Lalbagh Walkers’ Association, Environment Support Group, Slum Jagatthu, Vimochana, Dalit Sangharsh Samiti Samyojaka, Sanmathi, Alternative Law Forum, Sangama, Stree Jagruthi Samithi, CIVIC Bangalore, Hasiru Usiru and Open Space.

Announcing the decision to drop the plan Thursday, horticulture department director N. Jayaram, however, said the ID card move was only for security reasons and not to impose curbs on regular visitors.

“Citizens of Bangalore are no security threat. Rather the government should be more vigilant to make the city safe and secure. Restricting Bangaloreans from moving freely within the city is no democracy. We welcome the government’s withdrawal of its earlier decision,” said Bhargavi S. Rao, coordinator of Environment Support Group, Bangalore.

“Young and old love these parks. If children from poor families play in parks, then elderly come here to relax. Introduction of ID cards and fees to enter parks would have deterred poor people from having access to city’s green spaces,” she added.

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