Prabal Kumar Basu temporarily shifted his base from Delhi to Kolkata just before the lockdown was announced in March. Basu is a poet and by profession, a senior executive of an MNC. Back in Delhi, he would regularly go for morning walks at the Jahapana City Forest in Greater Kailash. While in Kolkata, he enjoyed his walks in the Rabindra Sarobar. But not any more. While so many places have opened up, the Lake is still out of bounds. He now walks along a busy Southern Avenue.
Basu is among the many morning walkers who are looking forward to the reoping of the Lake. “Earlier, when there was no traffic, it was possible to walk down Southern Avenue. But now, there are a lot of cars. Hence, walking down Southern Avenue in the morning has become quite risky. Prolonged periods of staying at home has impacted all of us. If malls can open, I’m sure opening the Lake can’t be a problem,” said Basu.
Avoiding infection spread is of paramount importance but agencies managing the area can look at allowing some activities, with all necessary precautions. If someone is anyway going for a morning walk, then where s/he is going hardly makes a difference. Walking in a traffic-free area is, actually, a safer option.
A senior KMDA official told TOI: “Recently, a morning walkers’ group has sent us a letter with a request for reopening the Lake. While our offices there are open, the Rabindra Sarobar has not yet been reopened for the general public. We are waiting for the government directive on this.”
Mrityunjoy Chatterjee, one of the key members of Lake Lovers Association, used to spend his mornings at the Lake for the past 40 years. “More than 1,000 people would go there daily. It is very important to open the lungs of south Kolkata,” Chatterjee said.
Percussionist Pt Bickram Ghosh, who is missing his regular stroll at the Lake, said: “The Lake can open if social distancing, monitoring and restricted entry is ensured.”
Green activist Sumita Banerjee has been getting many calls from Lake-regulars. “Unfortunately, many have a bad habit of spitting and don’t maintain social distancing while going for walks. Many live in small flats and giving up on the habit of spending some time at the Lake is difficult,” she said.
“I request people to be patient. The Covid infection figures are still high. I ask them to wait for the government’s decision to reopen the Lakes. I believe other parks in south Kolkata are also shut,” she added.
Source:Times of India