Sunday, December 5

Morning walkers make most of 3-hour freedom at their favourite greens

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For nearly 100 days they had to take their walks on rooftops, gingerly stretch in front of their doorsteps or simply walk up and down their balconies. And every day, each of them has bitterly missed the 192-acre Rabindra Sarobar. Most people were left with a profound spirit-sapping boredom because nothing compared to the lungs of south Kolkata.
However, they breathed a sigh of relief when the gates to the Lake were opened at 5.30am on Wednesday. Around 700-odd Kolkatans seemed to be savouring every breath of the fresh air, basking in the newfound freedom of three hours. Into an overdrive of cellphone photography and videography (the clicks and grabs instantly posted on their Facebook wall), some even seemed to forget to sit and perform their regular breathing exercises.

Times View

Responsible behaviour, which must include social distancing, is now more important than ever before. Let us enjoy these renewed opportunities for a better life but keep in mind that the virus’s spread is far from over.

Prompted by chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s announcement that morning walks would be allowed from 5.30am to 8.30am with Covid safety protocols in place, Kolkatans flocked to their neighbourhood green patches — Rabindra Sarobar on Southern Avenue, Subhas Sarobar on EM Bypass and Eco Park in New Town. “It’s good to be back, but can’t help feeling a pang of sadness because the signs of the Amphan devastation are all around us, especially by the waterside. Some of the majestic trees have gone missing,” said environmentalist S M Ghosh, a regular at the Lake for four decades.

“I have never seen such a clear water here. The ducks swimming so peacefully. Without the smudge of the grey that is the Southern Avenue traffic, I feel dizzy with joy,” Ujjal Dugar, chairman of Bengal Rowing Club, said. One or two couples braved the debris to sit in the lake-facing benches, nonchalant about social distancing norms. The setting was perfect for the early morning rendezvous. The chirping birds, egrets keeping watch and the squirrels speeding across the bitumen-paved paths.

At Subhas Sarobar, retired engineer Arun Basu, who had walked from across Salt Lake’s JC Block, returned home on a mental and physical high. “I strolled for two hours instead of the one-hour staple of prelockdown days. My nerves have calmed already.”

Around 7,000 morning walkers descend at Rabindra Sarobar at daybreak. Sudhin Nandy, KMDA’s chief engineer in charge of the two lakes, said 700 to 800 people turned up at Rabindra Sarobar on Wednesday morning. “Another 500 went to Subhas Sarobar. Most were from the locality since public transport is scarce,” he said. An official of KMDA, the keepers of the two lakes along with the showpiece gardens Allen Park and Mohor Kunja, said, “There are no orders to open the latter two yet.”

But the city is slowly emerging from lockdown. New Town resident Sayan Sengupta (20) jogged at Eco Park till his shirt was drenched in sweat. “We can use the tracks from gate number 1 till the wooden bridge to Café Ekante. Only members have access to the main premises,” he said.

Source:Times of India

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