Does Hyderabad — the next major global city in the making — have enough lung space? According to GHMC figures, the number of parks in the city has grown by an additional 400 since 2014. But, Express observed that while the quantity — or the number of parks — has been growing, quality of these parks has taken a beating.

An ambitious idea was proposed in 2016, where 80 parks within the GHMC limits were adopted by various senior government officials to ensure they are maintained, beautified and developed in a better way. However, KhabarLive visited these parks and found that not much has changed on the ground for most of these parks. Take the case of Indira Park for instance.

It was adopted by GHMC Commissioner B Janardhan Reddy. However, the issues here are aplenty — the scrap metal sculptures are rusting and are unattended to; stray dogs roam around the park; and patches of the park are ill-maintained. Similar situation prevails at Jalagam Vengal Rao park adopted by HMWS&SB MD Dana Kishore. The toilets are filthy, so is the pond at the centre of the park and the canteen inside the facility is in poor condition.

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At a much worse state is the Chacha Nehru park that was adopted by Deputy Mayor Baba Fasiuddin. The pond is covered with garbage and moss; the bund surrounding the pond is crumbling and vegetation waste is dumped at one corner of the park that has poor parking facility. In almost all these parks, the walking tracks and greenery around it are well maintained. It’s the other areas that are problematic. Also, no value addition has been done at most of these parks for visitors. Facilities like open gyms are available only in a handful of parks in the city.

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The State government is busy promoting Hyderabad as a global city in the making.The city is projected as a great destination with strong social infrastructure for companies to establish their base and a cosmopolitan crowd to shift base and live. However, unlike New York, Edmonton or Gold Coast, our city does not have design guidelines for development of parks. On the contrary, these cities listed have guidelines on how parks can be made more accessible, features to be included depending on their size and plant species to be grown.
“The parks in Hyderabad look like mere lip-service,” says Foundation for Futuristic Cities president Karuna Gopal. “Unlike this, in countries like USA parks are developed with environment, ecology, equity and health in mind.

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To have a policy on urban parks is not a rocket science and just needs will of the government. Smart planning for a city means the parks have to be looked through the angle of Social Return on Investment as parks contribute to various social benefits like bettering health of people, ideas sprout in parks.”

Various cities in the world calculate SROI for parks. For example, the SROI report on parks by Edinburgh, Scotland found that for every £1 invested in Edinburgh’s parks, approximately £12 of benefits are delivered. “The cost benefit ratio varies from 1:7 for a natural park, to 1:17 for a large city-centre park,” said the report. #KhabarLive