"Garden City" Bengaluru Needs More, And Better, Parks

In its report, Janaagraha revealed that Bengaluru - often referred as India's Garden City - does not have adequate parks for the city's population, estimated to be close to 10 million.

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'Garden City' Bengaluru Needs More, And Better, Parks

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There are 1,115 parks and 192 playgrounds in Bengaluru

Bengaluru:  Poor access and maintenance continue to plague parks and playgrounds in Bengaluru, reveals a survey conducted by an NGO. In its report, NGO Janaagraha revealed that the city - often referred as India's Garden City - does not have adequate parks for the city's population, estimated to be close to 10 million. 

"We really need parks for walking and exercise. We do housework but walking here is nice," said Sahana, who was seen chatting with her friends in one such park. 

Subramanya Aithal, a senior citizen, is another daily visitor. "We come here and walk, meet a friend and then go. It is nice!" he said.

There are 1,115 parks and 192 playgrounds in Bengaluru according to a list with the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike or BBMP.

Sapna Karim, Head, Civic Participation of Janaagraha told NDTV, "We should ideally have 67 sq km of space set aside for citizens. We are at 19.3. This is really, really low. So just in terms of availability of open spaces in Bengaluru in terms of parks and playgrounds, we really are short of space."

BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad, who was presented the survey report, pointed to the lack of space in the city. "Whatever new lung spaces, new parks have to come up, must come up in the outer area as the inner area is densely populated. Maximum development is taking place in the outer area so a lot of scope is there and new parks are being constructed in the outer areas," he told NDTV.

Almost 80 per cent of the parks are situated in the older inner city areas, showing that planning for parks has not been as it should in the newly included outskirts. And most of the existing parks and playgrounds do not have the required facilities, as confirmed by the Jaanagraha survey team which visited each one of them.

The report sheds light on some dismal findings. Only about half of the parks have lighting, while more than half have garbage and debris dumped in them. Toilets were found in only six per cent of parks and four per cent of playgrounds. Only 39 per cent of playgrounds have any kind of equipment for children to play with.

"If youngsters and children are going to play - providing water and toilets is non-negotiable," said Ms Karim. Only one per cent of parks and playgrounds provides drinking water to visitors.

Even the city commissioner Mr Prasad concedes that the parks are not up to the mark. "Definitely, as per the expectation of the citizens of Bangalore, still we have not provided infrastructure facilities in all the parks. So that may take a little time. Maybe in the next 6 months to one year" he says.

But the news isn't all bad. The report says that jogging tracks, seating and security staff were present in over 70 per cent of the parks on the BBMP list.

The mayor of Bengaluru, Sampath Raj, also held out hope for the city's parks and playgrounds. "Our budget is going to come in January - definitely you can expect a better allocation for the development of parks and playgrounds" he told NDTV. He said that Bengaluru had at least some open areas because of early planning done by the British rulers and also the large defence presence in the city.

"There is a lot of lung space in Bangalore because of lot of the military area comes under the Bangalore limits," he said.

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