The people of the State capital have been frequenting a few established places of recreation for years now. Now they want more.
The capital city, once proud of its green cover, is now stuck with the sight of its trees being ruthlessly cut down and its open spaces being fast taken over by concrete monsters.
From the days when people in the capital city did not have to go too far to enjoy their weekends, their weekend getaways are now moving further away from the city.
The first casualty of the rapidly vanishing lung space, obviously, has been the younger generation, particularly children, who do not have enough playgrounds, parks, or even malls and hangouts, something their peers in many cities take for granted. The overcrowded Museum grounds and zoo, a small children’s park there, Kanakakunnu Palace, the Shangumughom beach that has long been waiting for a beautification project that could make the place slightly more entertaining or at least, relaxing, and there ends the city’s list of getaways on a weekend.
Sample this: the city has just 21 wards with exclusive playgrounds, while only 23 wards have parks, according to the draft Master Plan of the Corporation. Only three wards have more than one playground. How many of these parks are in conditions that beckon the young to spend their time there is anybody’s guess.
The tourist villages at Veli and Akkulam are next on the radar. However, while the Akkulam Tourist Village is still caught in the throes of a facelift, Veli does not have much to offer, apart from a sunny beach, a small green expanse and minimal boating facilities.
Kovalam, for long, has been overcrowded. So where does a family from the city head out on a Saturday, or any other holiday?
There are little or no options at all that are within an hour’s drive from the city. Aruvikkara, with the dam and the small park there, has the potential, but is still somewhere far below on the list of spots with ample facilities for tourists or weekenders.
This leaves the people with places such as Poovar, with its resorts and boating facilities, and then, further again, the Neyyar Dam, where boating through the forest area and trekking options could lure a few.
Varkala, with its cliffs and beach, is another option. Ponmudi with its misty surroundings and the nearby Kallar where nature enthusiasts would go for a trekking trip are on the potential spots list.
And the draft master plan, apart from pointing out that the city is woefully short on parks and open spaces, does not appear to have any suggestion to tackle the situation.
Proposals for long stretches like the Vellayambalam-Kowdiar route, where benches on the roadsides could offer some respite to at least walkers in the mornings, or to spruce up existing parks or add more such green spaces are but feeble voices.