Residents create a pleasant lung space for the neighbourhood
At 83, Saraswathi Venkatraman is a sprightly, conscientious citizen who spends her time, effort and, at times even money, to maintain this small park in Fourth Block, Koramangala.
Every month, for over a decade now, Ms. Venkatraman and her friends have mobilised support and resources to maintain and develop this park that is now known as Swabhimana Koramangala Park.
When they started out in early 2000, there was a proposal to hand over this land, then owned by the Bangalore Development Authority, to the Postal Department. “Some communities even wanted to build a temple. But the residents around here were adamant that this must be converted into a lung space,” Ms. Venkatraman explained.
Her voice trembles with pride as she recalls how — along with a conscientious gentleman who took over the streamlining of solid waste management — she took over the landscaping, development and maintenance of this piece of land that once used to be used as a garbage dump.
“It is extremely gratifying today — to see children playing here, mothers bonding and senior citizens making friends and having long conversations,” she said.
She recalled how during the few days that the park was shut down for renovation, children would queue up before her house to ask when “their park” would reopen.
Her friend, Parvathi Sriram, who helps her maintain the park, pointed out that the group had two other parks in the area under its wing and after developing them, it handed them over to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). “But we are not happy with the way the maintenance has been handed over to the contractors,” said Shankar Rao, a core member of this citizens' initiative, “which is why we refused to hand over this park”.
The BBMP recently built a sitting area and a gazebo; however, as far as maintenance goes the citizens continue to be in charge.
Unlike other parks, this one is open an extra two-and-a-half hours to allow early birds and office-goers who come home in the evening to be able to enjoy the ambience.
Shantha Venugopal, another citizen active in the initiative, pointed out that the park has become an integral park of the locality.
Not only do residents meet and greet each other here, they also congregate to celebrate national holidays such as Independence Day as well as other festive occasions.