VIJAYAWADA: One of the major propositions made by the experts at the recent Happy Cities Summit was that a legislation should be brought in to ensure that open spaces, like parks and gardens, are protected from turning into concrete jungles. Parks, they observed, were lung spaces for cities. However, the parks in Vijayawada have a different story to tell as over a dozen of them have vanished from the landscape of the city in the last two-three decades.
Police guesthouse near Eluru Lakulu, police control room, parking lot opposite CRDA office, parking space in Besant Road and several other present-day structures were once parks. “Several municipal parks were given to other departments for building office spaces. More than a dozen parks were converted into concrete spaces in the last two-three decades. Parks are to cities what lungs are to human beings. If the civic authorities themselves don’t protect them, then who will?” wondered Dr Jandhyala Shankar, former mayor of Vijayawada.
According to information, the park, which now houses the police guesthouse, was called Kasinathuni Nageswara Rao Park, while the one that was used by CRDA for temporary parking near Lenin Centre was known as Papaiah Park. “The parking lot in Besant Road was Ansari Park,” Shankar recalled. “A shopping complex was built in Hanumantha Rao park area at the cusp of Besant Road and Gopal Reddy Road; the police control room near One Town flyover was also a park,” Shankar said.
“Vijayawada had more number of parks when its population was about four lakhs. The civic authorities lack vision. That is why parks started disappearing with the increase in population,” he stated, pointing out that several other small parks in Satyanarayanapuram, One Town, Moghalrajpuram and other areas were also used for other purposes. “If not for office spaces, the VMC is using the parks to build water tanks. The Rehman Park in Suryaraopet is an example,” he added.
The civic body officials also admitted that there has been a decline in the number of parks over the past few decades. “Some decisions, regarding using parks for other purposes, were taken for revenue augmentation, and some were taken following the government’s decision. So, we just followed the orders,” an official of the VMC said.
However, the VMC officials said that plans are on to develop 14 parks in the city. “Four parks under the AMRUT scheme have been finalised. We have also identified locations in various residential colonies to develop 10 parks. Estimates for the same have been prepared and the works will soon begin,” K Pradeep Kumar, VMC’s assistant director of horticulture, told TNIE.
Furthermore, the district administration has also given instructions to the town planning and horticulture departments to take up a survey in the city for development of parks. “Instructions have been given to the officials concerned to identify the locations where there is a requirement for parks. Once identified, we will take up greenery development works,” B Lakshmikantham, District Collecor, told Express.