Should Delhi Park Its Money In Creating New Green Spaces?
While on my way home after my weekly grocery shopping, I hear old men chatting about something really funny in a Delhi Development Authority maintained a park in my area. I say funny because most of them seemed on the verge of choking themselves with laughter. At a little distance, I see younger men, with cords of their phones firmly plugged into their ears, making brisk rounds of the park using the walking track. In another corner of the space -- this part offers a shade -- is occupied by women of all age groups chanting hymns to please the almighty.
This sure seems to be a happy place. As I walk ahead feeling nice about it all, I realize there is another park close to the one I just saw, with the minor difference — this one is deserted. Without venturing into the reasons behind the stark contrast, I start to wonder: Will Delhi not be a better place if we visit parks more often? At the fear of sounding very negative about it, I do declare that parks in my city are mostly used by the jobless and the homeless for their afternoon siestas; they would be forced to leave the place as the evening advances. Major parks in Delhi might be doing their bit to keep the city look green, but they do not see many people visiting them, as a matter of fact. Possibly, India Gate and Lodhi Garden are the only exceptions in the city .
It is in this context we should examine the merits of the DDA planning to develop new parks in the city. According to media reports, the DDA in August this year formed a special purpose vehicle (SPV) — the Biodiversity Mission and DDA Green — to develop urban parks in the national capital that are likely to be in the league of New York's Central Park, London's Hyde Park and Singapore's Garden by Bay.
“Delhi has several parks. However, there is none which can lend a certain 'identity' to the city. For example, when you say 'Maidan' or the 'Brigade Parade Ground,' you immediately recall Kolkata. Such parks should pull out citizens of their homes to enjoy nature and be a big tourist magnet as well,” a Daily Mail report quoted DDA chief architect Vinod Dhar as saying.
This does seem like a serious attempt to rid the national capital of its infamous tag of being among the most polluted cities in the world. But, will the beauty and the charm of the upcoming parks drive us to visit them more frequently is a big question. What good will the whole investment be if Delhi's version of the Central Park stands ignored by Delhiites?