Pond in Public Garden in need of revival

A plaque on the wall of the open-air auditorium named ‘Lalitha Kala Thoranam’ reads that it was inaugurated by former chief minister Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao in 1986.
The bed of the pond at Public Garden coated with weeds and shrubbery
The bed of the pond at Public Garden coated with weeds and shrubberyPhoto | Vinay Madapu

HYDERABAD: The 150-year-old pond in the premises of the once-vibrant Public Garden in Hyderabad has shrunk dramatically over the past few years, with the pond’s bed now coated with weeds and shrubbery. Environmental activists and locals alleged that their pitches to revive the pond and other facilities on the premises have fallen on deaf ears.

When TNIE visited the site, plastic bottles and other materials were seen on the parched bed of the water body. According to environmental activist Mohammed Abid Ali, the dilapidated condition of infrastructure surrounding the pond — walls, benches, viewing points — is deterring visitors from exploring this part of the garden.

In a letter to Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy in February with over 200 signatures, Ali highlighted that the pathways of the cherished space are now littered with debris, the greenery is disordered and amenities such as benches, fountains and lights remained neglected. The signatories are still awaiting a response.

The Public Garden has been a part of the city since 1868. Speaking to TNIE, Ali recalled that he used to play in the Public Garden in his childhood. Now, along with the pond, several iconic structures on the premises have lost their sheen, most notably the Telangana State Archaeology Museum.

A plaque on the wall of the open-air auditorium named ‘Lalitha Kala Thoranam’ reads that it was inaugurated by former chief minister Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao in 1986. The activist recalled that the auditorium served as the venue for numerous film festivals in its heyday. When asked about the last time such an event was hosted at the auditorium, he said, “Before 2010.”

A boat lies in a damaged condition as the pond’s water level has dipped
A boat lies in a damaged condition as the pond’s water level has dipped Photo | Vinay Madapu

‘Shift TG formation day events’

With the Telangana state formation day drawing closer, Ali is concerned as the central lawn of the Garden is often chosen as the venue for celebrations. He said, “It takes a lot of time and effort to level the lawn post the event. This year, I request Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy to consider other locations like LB Stadium.”

The environmental activist asserted that the loss of such spaces affects children the most. He also said that access to the public space is also being curtailed. “Now, they are saying that the gardens are open till 8 pm but people are asked to leave by 7 pm itself,” he added.

Anant Maringanti, the director of Hyderabad Urban Lab, a multi-disciplinary urban research centre, said the effect of this decline is acutely felt by children from squatter settlements, slums and low-income colonies. “While public spaces are accessible to men and boys, there are spaces that are not accessible to women and girls at any point. Where do they go,” he asked.

‘several iconic structures lost to neglect’

The Public Gardens has been a part of the city since 1868. An activist said he used to play in the Public Gardens in his childhood. Now, along with the pond, several iconic structures on the premises have lost their sheen, most notably the Telangana State Archaeology Museum.

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