All parks run by Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) will not remain open through the day, the civic body announced on Monday.
Some parks will keep their gates closed in the afternoon, as they used to do during the pre-Covid times.
“Parks will stick to pre-Covid hours. Different parks had different visiting hours even before the pandemic. This was done based on various local factors. We will stick to that,” said Debashis Kumar, mayoral council members in charge of the KMC’s parks and squares department.
All through the pandemic, the parks were either shut (whenever there was a surge in Covid cases) or remained open for a few hours (when the infection numbers dropped).
After the case count during the third wave started falling, the KMC decided to keep its parks open from 6am to 9am and again from 4pm to 6pm.
There was a growing demand from Kolkatans to keep parks open from morning till evening, without a break. Those advocating for longer hours argued that many people found it convenient to visit parks in the afternoon.
The KMC had on February 2 announced that its parks, save a few, would remain open from 6am till 9pm.
A KMC official said law and order was among the ‘local factors’ that prompted the decision to keep some parks shut during the afternoon.
The official said that some of the parks that remained open from the morning till the evening, without a break, before the pandemic were Deshapriya Park and Park Circus Maidan in south Kolkata, while in the north, Deshbandhu Park and Shyam Park.
Some parks that did not have guards, too, would also remain open through the day as there was none to close the gates.
The Telegraph reported on Saturday that a 66-year-old Kolkatan who wanted to take her two-year-old grandson to a park on Friday afternoon found three parks in her neighbourhood shut.
The woman, a resident of Moira Street and an author, had found the gates of Minto Park, Rawdon Square and Auckland Square shut. She said it was convenient for her to take her grandson for a stroll in the afternoon as that was when she would be free of her domestic responsibilities.
The lack of uniformity in visiting hours would inconvenience those who are not aware of the timings.
The authorities of New Town, where there are several parks in residential blocks as well as themed parks such as Satyajit Park and Sonar Kella Park, are shutting them down at 5pm. Parks open at 5am. There is no break during the afternoon. “We are closing the parks at 5pm. All maintenance activities, including clearing weeds and general repairs, are carried out post-5pm. That is why we have decided on these timings,” said Debashis Sen, chairman of the New Town Kolkata Development Authority.
Several New Town residents told this newspaper on Monday that parks should be kept open at least till 8pm. “Many of us are working from home…. If the authorities keep the parks open a bit longer, people like us can visit them in the evening,” said Poulami Chatterjee, a techie.