The Department of Horticulture has called for a new tender for collection of fees in five authorised parking lots at Cubbon Park, much to the dismay of activists and citizens who use the green lung every day.
Through the parking fees, the department is aiming at collecting over ₹60 lakh a year. The deadline for the tendering process was initially November 4. However, owing to a technical glitch in the e-procurement portal, it has been extended to Friday.
Several citizen activists, environmentalists, and members of the Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association have opposed the new tender. While officials maintained that unauthorised parking within the park was on the rise, citizens said that measures should be taken to curb vehicular movement instead.
“A new tender means that there won’t be a complete ban on vehicular activities for the next two years. Instead of floating new tenders, the Horticulture Department should concentrate on banning vehicular movement inside the park. This has been going on for long,” said S. Umesh, president of the Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association.
Senior officials in the Horticulture Department, on condition of anonymity, said they support the restriction of vehicles inside Cubbon Park, but admitted that such a rule would be difficult to enforce. “Ideally, stopping vehicles from entering huge parks like these would be a great move. It is a critical lung space of the city. It is high time we follow the Lalbagh model of not allowing vehicles inside the park,” said a senior official said.
Lack of parking space is often cited as one of the reasons. In response, Michael F. Saldanha, retired judge of the High Court of Karnataka, suggested that the authorities build either underground or multi-storied parking facilities in the Central Business District area and for numerous government offices in the neighbourhood.
‘Save this space’
Leo Saldanha of the Environment Support Group had a similar opinion. “Parking space for the Secretariat and other government office staff can be built near the Vidhana Soudha. Bureaucratic and political will for this is decisive. Unfortunately, this is not happening,” he said.
He also pointed out that the city had failed to create another Lalbagh or Cubbon Park. “What we can do is to save the existing lung space, which is critical to the ecology of Bengaluru,” he said.
Unauthorised parking on the rise
Walkers who use Cubbon Park daily claim that unauthorised parking on stretches inside the park, especially between the Hudson Circle entrance and City Central Library, was on the rise. “We have written time and again to the authorities that it should be stopped. The Horticulture Department also accepted our proposal. However, no action has been taken,” they said.
Acknowledging the problem, officials in the department admitted that they have not been able to put a stop to this.
The Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association will be forming a human chain in Cubbon Park on Sunday to protest the construction of a seven-storey High Court annexe.