Most parks in the city will remain open from the morning till the evening from Thursday with Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) heeding growing demands to make them accessible for longer hours.
The 700-odd parks under the KMC will remain open from 6am till 9pm from Thursday, though some, such as Tallah Park in north Kolkata, will remain shut in the afternoon, civic officials said.
Rabindra Sarobar and Subhas Sarobar, which are managed by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), too, will remain open for longer hours — from 6am to 5pm.
The KMDA officials this newspaper spoke to, however, could not say whether the revised timings would come into effect on Thursday.
Till Wednesday, the KMC parks remained open from 6am to 9am, and again from 4pm till 6pm. Rabindra Sarobar and Subhas Sarobar would remain open from 6am till 9am.
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).
This will be the first time since March 2020 that parks will remain open from the morning till late in the evening.
“Parks will open at 6am and close at 9pm,” said Debashis Kumar, mayoral council member in charge of parks and squares in the KMC. “Some will remain closed in the afternoon because of several factors.”
A KMC official cited “improper conduct by young couples” as one of the reasons for keeping some parks shut in the afternoon.
As for Tallah Park, among the ones that will remain shut for a few hours mid-day, the official said a lot of people from the neighbourhood would swim in the pool inside the park, which is not allowed, in the afternoon.
Some of the parks that would remain shut in the afternoon during the pre-pandemic times were Jatin Das Park in Hazra, Tallah Park and Allen Park on Park Street.
“I couldn’t understand the rationale for keeping Allen Park closed during the afternoon. Park Street is a business district and it draws a lot of footfall. A park serves as a waiting area, a meeting point, a place to catch a breath in the middle of a hectic day,” she said.
The Telegraph has reported several times in recent weeks how restricted hours in parks inconvenienced many Kolkatans who prefer going for a walk in the evening or late in the morning.
“Kolkata is crying for open space and the KMC keeps open spaces locked for much of the day,” said Bonani Kakkar, founder of NGO People United for Better Living in Calcutta (PUBLIC).