The city with a heart appears to have no interest in keeping healthy its lungs. The 70 and odd parks in different localities mirror years of neglect.
Swings, which should have been swaying in the evenings with kids on board, remain deserted in most of the parks because most of them are in a bad shape. Joggers develop cold feet before stepping into rickety jogging tracks. Worse, some parks are out-of-bounds for citizens.
The benefits of parks extend from improvement of physical and psychological health of residents to conservation of environment. Apart from providing a restive place to the people to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city life and do a few workouts, parks define the look and feel of a city and its neighbourhoods.
The green patches also neutralise the heat reflected from hard surfaces and bring a cooling effect.
Yet, parks have remained nobody’s baby in the city for years. The state urban development and housing department had issued an order last September that a park management society would be formed and funds would be allocated to look after the lungs of the city. But till date, nothing has materialised. Urban development and housing department minister Samrat Chaudhary said he had no information about any such order. (See graphic)
Against this backdrop, most of the parks in the city are in a shambles. A few closed for facelift have not reopened for years. The Telegraph checks out the condition of a few oases in concrete jungle:
Ceremonially known as Shaheed Veer Kunwar Singh Azadi Park, the Hardinge Park is one of the major Raj era green arenas still existing in the city. The park on the either side of Hardinge Road spreads over 20.35 acres. It was opened for public on January 31, 1916 by Sir Edward Gai, then Lieutenant-Governor of Bihar ·
Wow factor: Jogging track, stone-made statue, water fountain, sitting area, benches
Ouch factor: Park closed from October 2012 for redevelopment works as per a directive of Patna High Court issued on July 20, 2007
Resident speaks: Ashok Ghosh, a senior faculty member of AN College, said: “I, and probably many other senior citizens in the city, have childhood memories associated with Hardinge Park and I would be happy if it returns to its original shape and opens at the earliest.”
Way forward: Samrat Chaudhary, the urban development and housing minister, said: “We are planning to put up a grass-made statue of Veer Kunwar Singh in Hardinge Park and finalise other development works. The park would not open before the next year.”
AG Colony Park has been developed on around 7.56 acres of land. The beautification of the park was undertaken under Mukhyamantri Shehri Samekit Vikas Yojana, now known as Mukhyamantri Nagar Vikas Yojana, in 2009-10
Wow factor: Jogging track, playing area for kids with swings and benches
Ouch factor: The beautification work was left incomplete in 2009-10. The fountain remained defunct and lampposts were not installed. No security guard or gardener was deputed
Resident speaks: R.S. Sharma, a resident of Kesari Nagar, said: “Hundreds of residents from neighbouring localities, including Sheikhpura, Ashiana Nagar, Excise Colony, AG Colony, Friends Colony and Magistrate Colony, come here for morning and evening walks. But the park is in a pretty bad shape. The swings in the children’s playing area are damaged. Many benches are broken. Even the jogging track is in a shambles. It is not safe to go there after sunset.”
Way forward: There appears to be no silver lining. Neither the AG Colony Co-operative Society, nor the state government is ready to take over the park
Sprawling over an area of around 1.2 acres in Sector- 7 of Bahadurpur Housing Board Colony, Mahatma Gandhi Children Park was developed with local MLA fund and inaugurated on August 15, 2002
Wow factor: The park has benches and jogging tracks
Ouch factor: There are no swings and jogging track is broken at various places. The railing on the boundary wall is also damaged
Resident speaks: Mukesh Kumar, a resident of Sector-7 at Bahadurpur, said: “This is the only park in the higher income group (HIG) colonies of the housing board in Bahadurpur. But it remains flooded for days during monsoon and no one bothers to pump out the water. There are no lights and it hardly serves the purpose of a park.”
Way forward: Bihar State Housing Board has plans to redevelop various parks in its residential colonies
The civic society can do a turnaround for sure. The urban parks can flourish only with residents’ involvement.
People can form residents’ welfare associations and contribute voluntarily for maintaining the parks in their neighbourhood.