Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's a park after all, not a theatre of the absurd

It's a park after all, not a theatre of the absurd

Walkers in Lalbagh are furious over the move to introduce mandatory identity cards

Vaishalli Chandra. Bangalore



There will soon be nothing public about Bangalore's landmark parks, Lalbagh and Cubbon Park. And those who go on a daily stroll in these parks, are naturally agitated.
On Monday evening, after the horticulture minister went public with his decision to introduce ID cards for those using Lalbagh and Cubbon Park, dark clouds had literally gathered over the former.
But the overcast sky had not kept the people away from its walking-jogging tracks.
"ID card for what?" asked Bhanu Seshadri, for whom a walk in the Lalbagh has been a daily ritual — maintained for 25 years. "One doesn't require an ID inside the park," she said and added that while she is okay with paying a nominal maintenance charge of the park, the ID seems absurd.
Homemaker Uma and her group of friends don't think that IDs are of any use. "We have been hearing many things — charge for maintenance, ID card, etc. Nothing is really done." But, what if this goes as planned? "Do authorities listen to people?" she asked. "People's opinion does not matter, newspaper coverage does not matter. People in authority will make their own decisions," she said, as her friend nodding in resigned agreement.
"I think ID cards are a good idea," said MM Prasad, who had come all the way from Jayanagar IIIBlock. "It will ensure unnecessary elements are kept at bay."
But, another young jogger did not agree. "All this doesn't matter; those who want to create nuisance will do so, ID or not," she said.
A young couple felt such a rule would make the park a private zone. "It is a money-making scheme," the guy, who didn't want to be named, said, adding, "Parks are for all, where else will we go?" He felt parks were places where couples get some privacy without a dent in their wallet.
Another regular, Beerappa, said, "This is just a new stunt, nothing like this ever works." He wanted to know how the ID would help walkers in general. "What is the idea behind such an introduction?" asked another walker, who was with his wife. "We have been coming here for over 20 years. Carrying an ID card would feel like going to some office." His wife added, "Our son has one too that he wears in his office."
But most walkers felt that if ID cards were made mandatory, they might have no choice. "These people (authorities) don't care about our opinion," said 80-year-old Thimme Gowda.

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