Hyderabad has the unique distinction in providing its citizens an opportunity to ask for a colony park and have it, writes

Open spaces, playgrounds and parks are not just what their names seem to suggest. They are the common places of conviviality where each age group can find its own source of social empathy. They are the place where the elderly will not be relegated to the status of ‘sixth finger’, and the housewives, to their unpaid drudgery.

Most importantly, they are the places to visit which one does not need to have a reason. In such a sense, they are more precious than the highly priced apartments, yet available more or less for free.

Lakes, open spaces and parks are the most eyed by the land sharks, as there are no individual claimants for them, and by the time government notices and initiates action, the occupants approach court, resulting in unending delay. With residents of any locality more concerned about their own homes than the environs, many lung spaces are lost in the maze of concrete structures or encroached upon. Yet interestingly, Hyderabad has the distinction in providing citizens an opportunity to ask for a colony park and have it.

Those who have used this provision since its inception in 2004 now have beautiful parks developed by GHMC in their locality, where the residents can walk or sit, chat or meditate, exercise or relax.

“We just need one letter from the colony association asking for development of a park and an undertaking for its maintenance. Wherever such welfare association is not active, a registered Park Maintenance Association formed by a few individuals will do,” explained GHMC Additional Commissioner (Urban Biodiversity) N. Chandramohan Reddy.

Layout rules of GHMC stipulate that 20 per cent of any layout should be earmarked as open space, with 10 per cent reserved for parks. Owing to this, the city has over 2,000 open spaces earmarked for parks, of which over 50 per cent were successfully converted into green spaces.

But wherever colony welfare associations or resident welfare associations are not active enough, open spaces face constant threat of being gobbled up at times in the form of religious or other structures.

Colony parks also got a shot in the arm after the standing committee passed a resolution involving welfare associations in the maintenance of green spaces making the GHMC responsible to plant saplings, lay the lawns, walking tracks and also provide a water source by digging bore-wells.

The corporation also grants a lawn mower and gardening tools for the park, besides offering training for the garden workers. Periodic inspections and replacing dead plants and defunct accessories such as garden lighting are to be done while it is the association’s responsibility to take care about the security, watering, power and other maintenance issues.

GHMC gives a grant of Rs.3,500 per month for each park of up to 1,000 square metres, and Rs.1.65 per every additional square kilometre, subject to a maximum of Rs.10,000 per month. The amount could soon be revised to Rs. 5,000 and Rs.15,000, respectively.

Terming the project very successful, Mr. Reddy recalled a park developed at Manju Miyan Tavela. “It was a dump-yard surrounded by high rises, whose windows and doors would always be shut due to the unbearable stench. After we shifted the dump-yard and developed a park, the houses got a pleasant view and people visit the park in huge numbers now,” he says.

So find an open place, form an association, and rush to the GHMC for a park. Besides, one cannot ignore the real estate value such greenery would enhance for the properties.

Ornamental and herbal plants

“We have planted ornamental and herbal plants in the colony park. Everyday around a 100 people visit the park for morning walk and for doing exercises. A new children’s park is also being set up. Thanks to the cooperation of residents, we could achieve our aim of making an eco-friendly colony.”

Dr. Anand Rao Mengji,

President, Raghavendra Colony Welfare Association, Shivrampally.

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‘The parks have changed our lives’

“We have four colony parks altogether, developed between 2001 and 2008 — one for children below 12 years, one for sports and one developed as rock garden. Though residents were not enthusiastic initially, the parks have changed our lives here. At any given time, one can see around 20 children playing, and women sitting and chatting there. Since the parks came up, the bird population here has gone up. We could once spot a peacock too. However, part of the fourth park was encroached with a local politician’s support, and soon a temple came up in the place.”

Gita D.

Vice-President, Methodist Colony Welfare Association

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Park renovated with GHMC aid

We had an old park which was in a decrepit condition. GHMC has spent about Rs.10 lakh to renovate the park and re-plant it. They employed a person also to look after the one-acre park, and continue to supply plant material. Though nobody visited the park earlier, now we see a lot of children, women and senior citizens at all hours of the day.

Bhaskar Rao,

Doyens Township, Serilingampally