The Republic Day Flower Show at Lalbagh is just a fortnight away and the Horticulture Department's decision to ban food items, owing to piling up of garbage and increasing number of stray dogs, has drawn mixed reactions from regular walkers and visitors to the park.
Managing the garbage and keeping the premises of the park clean on a daily basis is a challenge, say the officials of the Horticulture Department. They point out that people tend to bring in food because Lalbagh is a preferred destination for picnics and outings. But this habit disturbs the natural setting of the park.
Chandrashekar M R, deputy director, Lalbagh, points out that the rule had always existed and it was just being enforced in a more stringent manner now, especially during holidays and on days where there are special shows in the park. "We will not allow people to bring in food items as this increases the chances of littering. We have deputed additional security guards to frisk people at the entrance just to make sure that food is not smuggled in," says Chandrashekar.
Regular visitors welcomed the decision saying that it will do well to preserve the heritage and legacy of the landmark. Aparna Athreya, a professional, feels that when the intention is good, people will abide by it. "People will surely cooperate with activities that are meant for the larger good of the society. This will also ensure sustainability of the decision in the long term." She also points out that this decision may inspire a similar move in the other heritage spaces in the city.
Vijaya Moorthy, a homemaker, has lost count of the number of times she has visited Lalbagh. She says banning people from carrying food items is not a practical step. "Parents who visit parks with children are bound to carry snacks for the children. It would be better if the authorities demarcate a space in Lalbagh for people to eat. Those who are found violating this rule should be fined. This will instill a sense of responsibility in people," feels Vijaya.
Mohammed Khan, an employee in the hospitality industry, points out that there are two repercussions of this decision.
"A lot of middle-class families enjoy going for picnics to Lalbagh and Cubbon Park. They carry food with them with the intent of spending the whole day there. This new rule will dampen the spirit of this group and they may just lose interest in visiting the park," says Mohammed.
He suggests that instead of imposing a ban, the authorities should create a separate zone for people to sit and eat. "This will not deter people from visiting and will ensure that they don't litter the space," he concludes.