Over 50,000 people thronged Lalbagh on Saturday, resulting in windfall collections

Like butterflies, thousands fluttered into Lalbagh on Saturday for the annual Independence Day flower show. According to official figures, over 50,000 people thronged the venue, resulting in windfall collections at the gate.

The show, which was opened to the public on Wednesday, took wing on Friday with nearly 60,000 footfalls thanks to the public holiday for Ramzan. With one more day to go before this long weekend ends, the Horticulture Department expects the total figure to touch two lakh. “We are expecting one lakh people at the very least on Sunday,” said Deputy Director of Horticulture J. Gunavaantha.

The Ikebana display and the flower-laden houseboat appeared to be the biggest draws. Almost every second visitor could be seen walking out with Ikebana showpieces. George and Christina Butcher from England bought such a large display that they had to carry it together with the taxi driver, who brought them to the venue. “We don’t know how we will take this back with us. But we couldn’t not buy them,” said Mr. Butcher. “I have never seen something so beautiful,” gushed his wife.

Trauma of traffic

However, the city’s meagre infrastructure once again played the party pooper. The roads leading to Lalbagh were clearly in no shape to bear the extra load. Negotiating traffic on Lalbagh Double Road, J.C. Road and Hosur Road is a tortuous experience even on a normal day. But on Saturday, these roads were practically impenetrable.

The jam on K.H. Road extended all the way to Richmond Circle Flyover. The situation was not too different at Dairy Circle, Lalbagh West Gate and Main Gate junctions as well as the R.V. Road Junction. Special arrangements were made at the multistorey parking lot at the Shanti Nagar KSRTC bus depot as well as the BBMP multistorey parking lot on J.C. Road.

Yet, hundreds could be seen stalling on the road waiting for a parking spot and blocking traffic. Policemen were at their wits end trying to wave these vehicles forward but they stuck to their ground. Commuters arguing with each other and with overworked traffic constables was a common sight throughout the day.

The crowd displayed their lack of civic sense by littering the venue. It was a sad contrast: lily and chrysanthemum blooms on one side; chocolate wrappers, ice-cream sticks and corn cobs on the other.