Vijayawada

Historically-significant Gandhi Park in Guntur now lies in neglect

The park was the meeting place for leaders during the freedom struggle

Parks are the places where children love to play and senior citizens can stroll on the lawns. The historic town of Guntur is dotted with many parks, most of them in residential areas. While some of them have been well maintained by local residential welfare associations, others are in a bad shape.

Take for instance, the historical Gandhi Park located right opposite the office of Guntur Municipal Corporation. Three years after independence, the municipality decided to establish a park and named it as Gandhi Park. Rao Sahab S. Mukti Swami was the special officer when the park was established.

Gandhi Park has a place etched in the history of the town and was the meeting place for leaders during the freedom struggle. The park still has the Swaraj Maidan pillar erected in 1939 in memory of martyrs in freedom struggle. In 1938, a clock tower was built.

Even after independence, the park continued to be a prominent one and used to host socio, political, cultural, and sports activities. It used to be a favourite playing ground for children and replicas of dinosaurs and a mini auditorium added more interest. Tall teak trees and manicured gardens were the hallmark of the park and even civil servants who worked in the town, remember the park as well maintained in 1980s.

The slide started some 20 years back and as the local municipality looked the other way, the park continued to wither for lack of attention. The Guntur Municipal Corporation took over the maintenance of the park, but did nothing to maintain the park.

While this is the situation in a central park, it is heartening to see parks in residential areas being maintained well. Many of them have walking tracks, children playpens and a compound wall. The walking track-cum-park at Gujjangundla is an example of how the municipal corporation and the local welfare societies can work together.

The park at Vidya Nagar, once a municipal site, has also been developed by opening a library and laying a walking track. The park at Syamala Nagar has a compound wall, a walking track and a playpen.

“The park is one of the earliest parks in the town and we are spending a lot on its maintenance. But there is a municipal dumper bin besides the park which attracts stray dogs, and we fear, our children may be bitten by them,” says Srinivasa Reddy, a resident of Symala Nagar.

New parks planned

The GMC had earlier planned to develop parks as part of a project funded by Andhra Pradesh Urban Services for the Poor (APUSP). The GMC had planned the project in such a way that it would clear the area and build the walking track while the residential welfare associations maintain them. Apart from developing the vacant sites, the GMC also hoped that the sites would be protected from encroachment. Parks have been proposed at Udyoga Nagar reserve site, Santhi Nagar (Muthyala Reddy Nagar), Nava Bharath Nagar, RTC Colony (reserve site), Srikanth Nagar, Kortipadu triangle belt, and Stambalagaruvu reserve site.

But down the line, most of the parks have been bereft of any maintenance with few residential associations taking up the responsibility. With the GMC not keen on further spending on these parks, they have been left without regular maintenance.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 12:09:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/historically-significant-gandhi-park-in-guntur-now-lies-in-neglect/article30795239.ece

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