Friday, January 28, 2005

Let the purdah remain

In response to this piece that appeared in the Business Standard last week

The proposal to replace the stone wall that surrounds Lalbagh with an iron fence needs to be thoroughly denounced as it will lead the garden down the path of destruction.

The writer acknowledges that the garden has not deteriorated. He should pause to think why that is so. One of the reasons is definitely the stone wall that secures it. In addition to humans with any negative bent of mind, it keeps the noise and foul air that permeate
every bit of Bangalore out. The writer attempts to question how a stone wall could be more secure than a iron fence. The 'out of sight, out of mind' principle works well here. What people cannot see they cannot damage.

All that one needs to debunk the writer's arguments is to take a look at the other large garden in Bangalore - Cubbon Park. Cubbon Park is surrounded by a transparent iron fence as the writer desires. The point is, Mr. Writer, the relatively dilapidated state that the Cubbon Park is in, is precisely because the iron fence has not been able to keep out pollution, miscreants, vagrants and stray animals. And there is a practical limit to how much policing can be done to keep such elements away. The writer's idea of locating ministerial bungalows
alongside the Lalbagh is so preposterous it doesn't deserve a response.

While I agree that private funds should be sought, they should be deployed for better maintenance of the garden and not in pursuit of such harebrained ideas.

Lalbagh is a botanical garden, not a mere roadside public park. Nay, it is paradise in today's polluted environs. The writer should realize that paradise is not served on a platter. If he wants to savour it, then he has to spare 10 minutes of his time and step inside the garden.

Like the writer himself says, its ultimately a question of mindsets. In times where there is scant regard for the environment, should we seek ephemeral joy or preserve paradise for posterity? I think the answer is resoundingly the latter. The writer chopped off 100 acres off
Lalbagh's total area of 240 acres with what was perhaps a wrong fact or a typographical error. But if his proposal is implemented then those 100 acres are sure to disappear in reality as well.

There is a saying in Kannada on one of the gates of Lalbagh - 'Idhu Sasya kashi, kaii mugidhu olage baa' which loosely translates to 'This is the heavenly abode of green-life. Bow before you enter'. I hope people like the writer will let it remain that.


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