Taking care of Parks and Gardens

We talk of development on almost all frontseconomic, educational, medical, commercial, technological, infrastructural and what not which really in comparison with previous years continue to show consistent growth and progress. If there is any decline or deterioration on comparative basis, it is in the levels of the most important factor, that of promoting environmental friendly, eco friendly, human health and physique friendly infrastructure and in respect of preserving given natural resources. Gardens and parks play an important role as, to begin with, they being easily approachable and affordable as well, some of such places even situated amidst busy and densely populated areas of core city need to be valued as also preserved. It is a place which is either natural, semi natural or manmade and planted area used for leisurely purposes, to pass moments of leisure and to get some amount of respite from the hustle bustle of the daily routine, for a stroll, a morning walk, for some light exercises, for indulging in practicing meditation, concentration and yog. In both the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu, no doubt many (ornamental) parks have been built by the concerned Government agencies but majority of those which were of historic value or laid by rulers, nobles and other Royalties are in dilapidated condition, not looked after and maintained by Government agencies like the JDA, JMC, SMC, SDA and the like. They, in some cases are put to uses other than they were built for, or are encroached upon in such a way that in a few cases, they are used even as store or dumping places for hawkers’ merchandise and waste material and most of them are bereft of even the basic utilities and facilities including drinking water. Just for example, see the condition of Harwan (water reservoir) park in Srinagar at the bottom of a beautiful forest and surrounded by picturesque mountains, right from its outer gate to the point touching the boundaries of Shalimar Garden, the water stream which was flowing majestically is nowhere as only houses are to be seen built around. Less said about the “Zanana Park” facing the Secretariat Building and similarly about many other notable parks of the past in Srinagar city. Taking the case of the present position of Rani Park, Zanana Park, Mubarak Mandi central garden etc in Jammu, these are neither maintained properly nor are basic facilities available nor are encroachers ”on day to day basis” removed, nor the rubble and other ”irritants” which are surrounding them removed. Maharaja Hari Singh Park with a sprawling area, no doubt, is a Park of taste with cultural and historical tinge especially various attractions and facilities as also some trees which are rarely found but are of our Vedic culture and great heritage are planted there in the Park bestowing on it a special shape and importance. No doubt, the Park is provided with almost all the requisites which a Park of taste, well conceived and accordingly planned carries. All this said about the Park, equally more efforts on sustained basis are required to maintain it which looking to its present position especially its post reopening after a year on account of COVID pandemic restrictions, seems nowhere. The statue of the Maharaja is no longer the same in shape and form which it used to be, even pillars supporting the statue require repairs. Water is accumulated in the ground making walking slippery. Coffee House, Library, open Gymnasium etc are no more to be seen. Why such a condition of this Park with its own importance and class, perhaps JDA alone can throw some light. We would not highlight the ”plight” of each park and garden in the city of Jammu in particular, but a ”serious survey” by the Directorate of Parks and Gardens along with the JDA and JMC of all such spots and places would reveal the quantum of scant attention paid towards maintaining them and thus resulting in not motivating rather enticing people visit these places. Agreed, gatherings and groups at any place are presently discouraged as a precautionary measure due to COVID virus but not maintaining and preserving these places and not keeping them in pristine form is uncalled for. People are now more conscious of COVID virus, moving individually and even after maintaining distance is no problem, if there is any, it is about not maintaining them