Despite a growing demand to re-open the public gardens across the city, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is firm on keeping it shut as a preventive measure in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
PMC garden department head Ashok Ghorpade said, “Mainly senior citizens and children visit gardens. Both are vulnerable age groups in the current Covid-19 situation. Two months ago, the PMC opened 13 gardens for exercise, but the experience was bad. Considering the present situation, it is not possible to open public gardens.”
According to Ghorpade, the state government’s government resolution (GR) is very clear and it has banned the opening of the public gardens.
“No other municipal corporation in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, has opened public gardens yet,” Ghorpade said.
“If gardens reopen, it could become hotspots as people will begin using the benches, play with toys and also use the exercise equipment in open gyms.
Activities like yoga and laughing clubs are carried out in gardens, where social distance is not followed,” he added.
The PMC opened 13 gardens on a pilot basis in Pune for exercise purposes in June. Residents began using open gym equipment, visiting gardens without masks and did not maintain social distance.
Against this background, there is no preparedness by the garden department to reopen the gardens.
Ravindra Joshi, a resident of Sahakanagar said, “Hundreds of people are visiting Taljai hill and other areas. If citizens are allowed to exercise on the hills, what is the problem in opening the public gardens?”
Another citizen, Ratnamala Shah said, “Due to the Covid situation, citizens are sitting at home and are bored. If they would go in the open air and do some exercise it would help. It is true that citizens did not follow the rules, but garden employees can warn them to use masks all the time while they are present in the garden. In any case, citizens are walking on busy roads, instead, they would use the garden.”
Avinash Kute, a resident said, “I used to go to the garden every morning. Now I am missing it. As everything is opening up, the garden should also open for the public but it should be strictly kept open for exercise and walking purposes.”