The Rabindra Sarobar compound will be open to visitors from 5am to 7pm, instead of a few hours in the morning and the evening.
Much to the agony of many Kolkatans, the 192-acre park, maintained by the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), used to remain open for only eight hours every day till Tuesday.
The park used to open its gates at 5pm and close at 10pm. It again opened at 4pm and shut down at 7pm.
“The KMDA’s chairperson told us late on Tuesday to keep the park open from 5am till 7pm. We sent a message to the security in-charge of Rabindra Sarobar immediately. The decision came into effect today,” said a KMDA official.
Subhas Sarobar, also maintained by the KMDA, will remain open from 5am till 7pm, the official said.
Firhad Hakim, Kolkata’s mayor and urban development minister, is chairperson of the KMDA.
All parks run by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation have been ordered to remain open from 5am till 8pm.
The decision to keep the Rabindra Sarobar compound open from 5am till 7pm partially restores the pre-pandemic visiting hours. Before the pandemic struck, the compound would remain open from 5am till 8.30pm.
Arunava and Radhika Guha Thakurta took their one-year-old daughter Rajnandini to Rabindra Sarobar on Wednesday morning. “We had some free time today, so we thought we would take her out somewhere. Rabindra Sarobar is such a wonderful place with so much fresh air,” said Arunava, who lives in New Ballygunge in south Kolkata.
The decision to keep Rabindra Sarobar open only till 7pm was also not acceptable to some. Mudar Patherya, a regular visitor to the park, said keeping the premises open till 7pm would still deny many the opportunity to use the green space.
“A large number of working people would not be able to take an evening walk if the park closes at 7pm,” he said.
Urban designers and architects had slammed the decision to keep the parks closed for a long time during the day.
Rabindra Sarobar was first shut down when the nationwide lockdown was announced in March 2020. The park was then opened when the Covid numbers dipped, but only for a few hours. It was again shut down when the second and third waves of Covid struck and opened when the numbers fell.
The Telegraph had reported in January, when public parks reopened in Kolkata with restricted hours, about the need to keep them open for longer hours. The parks used to remain open from 6am to 9am, and again from 4pm till 6pm.
Many Kolkatans had said then that if malls and restaurants were remaining open through the afternoon and evening, there was no reason for keeping parks shut for the better part of the day.