In highly urbanised cities, where green spaces are a rarity, municipal parks serve as valuable lung spaces, says Pauline Deborah R.

Parks are important components of urban topography. A city without a park is a system without a heart beat. It takes a great effort to plan and design a park to meet the needs and demands of an urban society. More so, it is a greater effort to sustain and maintain the initial enthusiasm of the park’s design and purpose.

Why are parks important? Urban parks play a dynamic role but are sometimes underappreciated and are often taken for granted. Parks are ‘urban oases’ that serve as carbon sinks for a highly polluted city. Also, the close knit vegetational cover in parks are an excellent source of water catchment areas, atmospheric particulate dust trappers, bio-filters, noise mitigators, air-purifiers. They also provide other valuable ecosystem services like attracting birds and butterflies. Every zone in a municipality should have a proportionately sized park that will provide these invaluable ecosystem services that cannot be technologically simulated otherwise.

Because of their significant contribution in terms of pollution mitigation, the parks should be protected from being the victims of road widening and other developmental purposes. Can any human life function without lungs? It’s the same with parks which are the ecological lungs that detoxify the pollutants in the environment and are much required for a healthy urban lifestyle.

A public park should cater to the comfort of all age groups, especially for the disabled.

An aroma garden with plants like frangipani, roses, thulsi, champak, gardenias, manoranjitham, ylang-ylangs, along with a touch and feel garden will be much appreciated by those who are vision-challenged.

A play area exclusively for kids with both green and steel gadgets can attract kids to these nature abodes, who have otherwise moved away from the concept of outdoor activity and channelled themselves towards virtual platforms like video games, social networks, computers, mobiles, etc... The basic amenities of every park will reflect its preparedness to handle not only day-trippers but also disasters. All parks should have

Clean toilets, which are necessary for the hygiene of those who visit the park. A medical centre with first-aid facility to attend to minor accidents, injuries and sudden calamities.

A cafeteria with very basic food items like juices, water and nutritious food.

Signage to various facilities inside the park.

Stone or wooden or metal benches for relaxation.

Garbage bins at strategic points but without smarring the park aesthetics.

Facilities for senior citizens and the physically challenged like ramps, specially designed toilets, etc.

People who visit parks have a very important role in maintaining the aesthetics and decorum of the green space