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Saturday, 21 July 2012

Glimpses of ‘Maya majesty’ at Sector 14 park

by Lalit MohanLalit Mohan | Jul 3, 2012

The Sector 14 park, named after Netaji Subhash Bose, misses its glory days. There was a time, not too long ago, when it was considered one of the best in the city and was the venue of the annual Gurgaon flower show. It has neither of the distinctions today. The Sector 29 Leisure Valley claims both. What has been left is a decrepit and dreary ruin of what were once a verdant garden and a thriving nursery.

To their credit, the present HUDA administration has woken up to the task, and has initiated steps to revive its appearance. Unfortunately, development of parks is not all about spending money. It also involves landscaping, which is a matter of aesthetics. This is where HUDA appears to be going horribly wrong.

First, they have taken a leaf out of Mayawati's book and decided to install stone or concrete animals all over the park — not of the same size, maybe, but the concept is similar. Atop two of the entrance gates baby elephants flanking a stone object that suggests birds on a leafless tree, have been constructed. In one corner of the nursery attached to the park a menageries of concrete quadrupeds in white awaits deployment all over the park.

Second, the colour scheme chosen for the boundary wall and some of the structures is so loud that it can make even a visually challenged person wince. Sections of the wall look like patches taken from a shade card of psychedelic paints. Kanwal Singh Yadav, president of Sector 14 RWA, who raised this issue with HUDA authorities, was told, "Kuchh rang biranga hona chahiyee."

Landscaping is primarily about arranging things as close to nature as possible and the more verdant and green, the better it is. It has to be "natural", not artificial, which is, sadly, what the new avatar of the HUDA park will look like once it is done.

The entire area measures about 15 acres. Occupying half of it on the north side, lies a nursery which once supplied plants to every newcomer to Gurgaon. This, too, is crying out for attention. Just inside the main entrance on the Old Delhi Road is a dump for wrecked cars, some of which are so old that anthills have grown on them. Currently the nursery has only shady trees' saplings for sale. Plants that bear fruits or vegetables, or are expensive, would probably be commandeered by local bigwigs, so it is considered prudent not to stock them at all. Most of its area is lying unutilized because of the lack of funds and enough staff. It is run on contract and that means that corners are being cut wherever possible.

Bina Pandya, a resident of sector 14, who is actively associated with INTACH, says, "HUDA will give the pride of place to Leisure Valley. Even so the Sector 14 park can be developed with its own distinct character, taking a cue from our ancient heritage when "gyan" was imparted under trees, in natural surroundings." She suggests that, apart from providing a green lung to the area, it should inculcate awareness of the need to protect the environment. Recycling bio-waste, conserving water, using solar power and growing herbal plants are some of the features that should have a better claim on funds than stone animals and other things so very unnatural. 

A platform, somewhat like a village "chabootra", lies in the middle of the park. There was a time when it was used for cultural events. That could be revived, even though now its sides are, as HUDA bosses would put it, "very rang-biranga".

Across the road towards sector 17 is an area where a large number of immigrant workers live. Their hovels do not have proper toilet facilities, so many of them use the "green belt" between the park and the roads around it to do the needful. It is also used as a dump for rubbish. Fortunately, this belt is being cordoned off. The Y-shaped steel angles with barbed wire and concertina wire on the top makes it look like it is dsabeing fortified as a high security facility, but as long as it keeps the belt green and clean, no one will complain.

Landscaping of parks is not rocket science, but it should be left to people who appreciate and understand nature. More trees, bushes, flowers and green lawns with simple pathways intertwining between them are any day preferable to garish colours and stone figures

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