Friday, April 16, 2010

Garden wing sits on fence: Saldanha

Garden wing sits on fence: Saldanha

The state Horticulture department has failed to properly maintain lotus pond in Cubbon Park

Odeal D'Souza. Bangalore

It has been over two years since a tree fell on the fencing around the lotus pond in Cubbon Park and damaged it. But the horticulture department, which gets crores of rupees every year for the upkeep of the park, including the pond, has not yet repaired the fence.
"There are people walking and jogging around the pond in the mornings," Shekar S, who goes to the park regularly for morning jogs, said. "The lack of fencing around the lotus pond could cause a lot of casualties since people could fall into it," he said. "There are children also walking near the pond. What if they trip and fall into it?"
"The fence has been in a state of disrepair for a couple of years now," Shreya Kumar, another regular visitor to the park, said. "Many representations have been made to the department to repair the fence, but nothing has been done as yet."
Justice Michael F Saldanha, retired high court judge, has written many letters to the department of horticulture, asking it to ensure proper maintenance of the pond. The department had crores of rupees to waste on "all sorts of unnecessary masonry and grill jobs" in the park, but it did not have funds to repair the fence, justice Saldanha said in a letter to the director of horticulture on Thursday.
He said he had been repeatedly pointing out that stray animals such as dogs and cats were entering the pond area due to lack of a fence and killing water birds. Four birds were killed by stray animals on Wednesday night, he claimed. "But the department refuses to attend to the matter," he said.
He said fish in the pond were dying due to its non-maintenance. On Wednesday, hundreds of fish were found dead in the pond.
"The lotus pond has not been cleaned even once in the last two years," he said. "We have been voluntarily disinfecting and oxygenating the water, but the biggest problem is that heavily polluted water that flows down the drain from the park enters the pond and causes extreme damage. Requests to stop this have gone unheeded."
Justice Saldanha said he had got officers from the fisheries department to inspect the place and find out the cause for the deaths. "It is their consistent finding that because of the criminal negligence of the horticulture department, which refuses to stop the inflow of filthy water (into the pond)… the water gets highly polluted and (this) has caused the fish deaths."
When contacted, all that the horticulture department officials said was that they would look into the problem.

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