Though some localities have parks with state-of-the-art facilities, others serve as dumping grounds for garbage and don't even have fences.

A poorly maintained GHMC park in Malkajgiri in Hyderabad, where water can be seen flowing outside the parkBy Arrangement
news Parks Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - 14:31

In Hyderabad’s Gachibowli, a large piece of land has been converted into a dog park. This is not just an ordinary lawn where you can walk your dog-- this bone-shaped park has several state-of-the-art facilities like obstacle courses, splash pools and special turf, and people and their pets can spend hours enjoying the place. However, residents living in the opposite end of the city, in places like Malkajgiri, don’t have the same luxury. Public parks here are overgrown and under-maintained, with piles of garbage strewn around.

Within the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), there are a total of 3,091 identified open spaces, spread across 1,760 acres of land. Of this, 919 spaces which come up to 727 acres have been converted into parks over the years, according to official data. Though some of these parks are well-maintained and developed, this is not the case everywhere.

Malkajgiri is one of the largest municipalities in the suburbs of Hyderabad. However, the parks in the locality are in a dismal state. Robin Zaccheus, who hails from Malkajgiri, says that the parks are not only run-down, but they are also used as a dumping ground for garbage by local residents. Robin further shares, “The parks in our area are not at all maintained. Forget maintenance, they don't even have proper fencing, which has resulted in the conversion of these parks into dumping yards; one can find everything from animal carcasses to debris dumped here. Due to lack of security, the park has also become an open invitation for unfavourable activities in the residential areas. People in the evenings smoke and drink here.” He adds that officials spend money in maintaining parks in already well-developed areas, and demands that all divisions receive an equal share of amenities provided by the municipality.  

Garbage thrown in a community park in Malkajgiri

Another major problem that parks which do not have any security measures face is encroachment. P J Reddy, president of the Saket Residential Welfare Association in the Kapra division of the GHMC, says that the an area used to have about 4.5 acres of open space, which is a government land. However, Reddy says, about half an acre has been lost to property development around. To prevent the land from further shrinking, residents have been requesting the GHMC and state Revenue Department to convert the open space into a biodiversity park since 2009.

“We keep protesting to protect our open space. We might have already lost at least half an acre of land to encroachments and by the people who claim that the land belongs to their ancestors. However, that is not true. We have been requesting the officials for more than a decade to take action against encroachment and to convert the space into a biodiversity park, to promote and protect ecological balance, but nothing has happened. The building of the biodiversity park was also one of the promises made by the local leaders during the GHMC elections, however, nothing has materialised so far,” PJ Reddy laments. The residents also say that several complaints regarding the encroachment of the park, registered through the grievance portal of the GHMC, have remained largely unattended.  

The land that residents are requesting for a biodiversity park

However, the GHMC has concrete plans to build 50 themed parks. Among those that are already open for the public are a dog park, a ‘Panchatantra park’ and a ‘Kishanbagh park’. The upcoming themed parks will be spread equally across all zones, the civic body has said. The project is being taken up with a financial outlay of Rs 134.23 crore. The parks, which are already under progress, are expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

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