Where can you go for an outing in the city with your family during the weekends? S.S. Kavithatries to look for an answer
Scene one: Rajaji Park, The Panagal Road, Sunday 5 p.m. The entire road is chock-a-blocked with people. On one side is the winding queue of people waiting to buy the entry ticket and enjoy all the jolly rides inside.
On the other side, the parking space is spilling out forcing pedestrians and other vehicles to move at a snail’s pace.
Scene two: Eco Park, Law College Road, Sunday 5 p.m. Any passer by is a witness to the clutter of vehicles here. And inside the park, the eyes counter only a sea of human heads.
The numbers of man and machine can choke you. Yet, week after week, it is the same scene.
And now with the summer holidays on, it can only get worse. “Where else can we take our children too?” retorts S.Vijayalakshmi, a grandmother of two. “The city hardly offers any entertainment hubs. So using what is available, is the only solution,” she adds.
“With the city getting urbanized and congested by the day, children are losing their relationship with nature. There are hardly any parks in the city where children can be left hassle-free,” rues S. Muthammal, a retired teacher.
“Inadequate outdoor hotspots forces people to opt for destinations outside the city especially during the weekends. But it can’t be sustained for long. So the local spots get over-crowded,” argues Arunthadhi.
“An occasional family outing is a vital component of healthy lifestyle. It is a good stress buster,” points out S. Dyana, a working mother of two children.
The Rajaji Park and The Eco Park are the only two options available even if it becomes a stuffy and a sticky evening, she adds.
Rajaji Park has little greenery compared to the Eco Park. But on the other hand, children prefer Rajaji Park for the joy rides on the giant wheel, crocodile train, dickey train which moves amidst the tiger, bear, peacock and camels made in stone. The regular see-saw, swing and slides too are a major crowd puller. In comparison, the Eco Park is blessed with more greenery, larger space and a fountain.
The main attraction here is the boating. “Parks are necessary not only to entertain people and children but also provide a breathing space to the city that is growing at a greater pace,” says M.A.Sheeba, a teacher, who makes it a point to visit either of these parks every weekend.
“I live in apartments and feel happy when I am out in the greenery here,” she adds.
“There is a need for more parks in the city. People are ready to come out of their houses on weekends and holidays to save their children from radiations of television and computer but where is the space?,” asks S. Sasikumar, a private bank employee.
“Realising the acute lack of outdoor space available to kids, the corporation should also take steps to establish a mini zoo and make efforts to maintain the parks,” remarks R. Selvakumar, an advocate.
“After hectic summer camps, an extension of school working days, computer and extra classes, we too need a break. But where do we play?,” asks S.Vetrimaran, a IX standard student.
Roads inside residential colonies are also no longer safe to play. So we are forced to confine ourselves indoors and remain glued to the TV,” says M. Bharathi.
Does the city really lack adequate open space to entertain and engage children?
Disagrees Jeyasingh Gnanadurai, an environment lover, who undertook a survey of city parks in 2005. According to him, there are 76 small and big parks in the city and there could be even more. But they are hardly counted or visible due to ill-maintenance or lack of awareness.
He says that the city has 76 parks. There may be many more but are hardly visible, due to poor maintenance. Only six parks are maintained in the city.
The oldest being the Rajaji Park, which was earlier known as Madura Peoples Park.
Besides, Eco Park being a hotspot, there are other parKs like the Vivekananada Nagar Park, Singarayar Colony Park, Viswanathapuram Park and George Joseph Park at Keezhmadurai. These are somewhat maintained by the respective resident welfare associations.
“Many residents would not know the presence of a Science Park established in 1998 aiming at teaching science facts and laws to children on the premises of Rajaji Park,” Mr. Jeyasingh informs.
The quest for seeking new avenues coupled with some exploration can lead to more breathing spots around the city. For instance, the Mariamman Teppakulam, Vandiyur lake and its adjacent park, Thiruparankundram, Yanai Malai and many hills on the city periphery especially the Jain caves are no exceptions.