Saturday, June 23, 2007

Park in an elephantine mess

Park in an elephantine mess
S Lalitha
Elephant Park, located at Bazaar street in Ulsoor, is a meeting point for anti-social elements.

This once-upon-a-time beautiful park with a lovely slide coming down from the trunk of an elephant was intended to be a park for children. Today, the Elephant Park, located at Bazaar street in Ulsoor, is a meeting point for anti-social elements. The shabby maintenance of this park not only reflects the callous attitude of BBMP officials but also highlights the extent to which society abuses public property.
Here’s a description of this triangular-shaped wasteland: Weeds have sprouted over half the length of this 2,000 square feet park. One bench lies upturned. On the other benches sleep drunkards or beggars in a dog-tired stage. Two corners of the park are littered with waste material that includes plastic paper. Only the stump of the seesaw remains. The slide board over it is missing. One of the swings is in a state of disuse and tied up to the top beam while the other is dangling in a state of imbalance. One neat yellow board advertises the services of a priest of a nearby temple. The whole area is enveloped by darkness when night falls as the light installed here does not work.
“Where has all the money allotted by the State government to upgrade parks in this Garden City gone?” thunders a resident who lives nearby.
“It has been in the same bad shape for nearly two-and-a-half years,” says Sudhakar, who works as a group leader at Dell International. Referring to the way it is misused by the public, he says that young men used to place weights on the bridge across the seesaw and it cracked.
“I have taken the broken bits and kept it inside my house to display it to Corporation officials, “ he adds. He is also upset about the poor infrastructure in place for children. “I have personally witnessed many kids fall down and suffer fractures due to the age-old slide in existence here.”
A few of the iron rails that border the park have been broken. “They are sold for a meagre sum of Rs 10 at some shops,” Sudhakar informed.
Deena Dayalan, who runs a magazine shop on the street, took his son Sai last Sunday for an outing here. “My son did not like it one bit and insisted we leave the place immediately and go elsewhere,” he said.
A resident of the street says, “This is a favourite hangout for young people, particularly during afternoons. They come stuffed with grass in their pockets and have a great time here.” I have given written complaints even accompanied with a photo to top corporation officials but nobody really cares.”
Sudhashree’s house lies just near the park. “It is impossible to keep the doors of my house open due to the anti-social elements who frequent the place,” she says. “My family has even paid money out of our pockets and requested domestic helps around to clean-up the place on a few occasions.” Her mother’s grouse is quite personal in nature: “Thefts have taken place in our house as well as our neighbours due to the bad elements who haunt the place. Not only are vessels and minor things are missing from our house, even the aluminium bowl used to feed our dog has been stolen!” she laments.
Deputy Conservator of Forests, Krishna D Udapudi has assured that cleaning of the the park would begin with immediate effect using BBMP gardeners and it would be ready within a week. “A sum of Rs 4 lakhs was allotted for maintenance of this park and the surrounding areas under the Garden Development scheme. But no amount has been spent for this park since it is a small one and we feel we can improve it using our own gardeners. The money will be utilised to improve other areas which need to be developed,” he said.


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