Friday, November 06, 2009

Lalbagh walk may come at a price

Lalbagh walk may come at a price

The undemocratic fee decision, however, has irked regular visitors

Odeal D'Souza. Bangalore



It's touted as a move to secure the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, but regular walkers and joggers are not pleased. The horticulture department has proposed the introduction of an annual fee for the use of this 250-year-old garden as a site for one's morning or evening exercise.
The move has irked regular walkers and joggers, who feel that they should have been consulted before the decision was thrust on them.
Horticulture department officials, however, said that they have been conducting a survey among those regularly walking or jogging in the Lalbagh. The department has been attempting to ascertain the response to the new fee. Walkers, on their part, have decided to meet on Friday to discuss the matter.
The annual amount proposed as fee is Rs200 per year for an adult; it will be Rs100 per year for a child. Identity cards will be issued to those who pay the fee, and the move is also meant to provide greater security to those jogging or walking in the park. Director of the horticulture department, N Jayaram, says the fee system will be implemented once the survey is complete.
Nearly 400 regular walkers at the Lalbagh gathered on Thursday and expressed their resentment, even as horticulture officials went about conducting the survey. Jayaram said, "It is high time we introduce the fee and issue identity cards to those who regularly walk in the Lalbagh. Recently, there was a murder in the park. We would be better able to keep a check on who enters the park once the identity cards are issued."
Two years ago, the Suvarna Karnataka Udyana Prathishtana, which manages all of the state's major parks, including the Brindavan Gardens in Mysore, took the decision that there should be greater monitoring of people who regularly use the state's gardens for their exercise, so that there are no gaps in security cover. Jayaram, who is also member secretary of the Suvarna Karnataka Udyana Prathishtana, said, "I do not think walkers and joggers will have problem with this decision. The fee is minimal. The president of the walkers association is also a member of the Suvarna Karnataka Udyana Prathishtana."
P Sadashiv, president of the walkers' association at Lalbagh said, "We do not have a problem with paying the annual fee, but we do feel that the horticulture officials should have taken us into confidence before introducing it. We will be meeting on Friday to discuss it." MR Doreswamy, a member of the walkers' association said, "I have personally requested the horticulture department not to introduce the fee without first seeking the consent of the regular walkers."
Nearly 3,000 people regularly walk in the Lalbagh each day. Two thousand of these are members of the Lalbagh walkers' association.

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