Rodents, snakes have made an appearance
On September 20, 2022, the horticulture department reinforced the ban on food items inside Cubbon Park.
The decision came due to infestation of snakes and rodents in the park. But it has made no difference to people who continue to bring food and eat it inside the park. They fight with guards who stop them from bringing food.
Shashidhar Pillai, a guard, said whenever they prevent visitors from carrying food inside the park, the visitors physically attack or verbally abuse them. “We are struggling so much. When women bring food items, we cannot even fight them.”
Most visitors ask for racks to keep their food packets and bags so they can collect them on their way back, but the park lacks a deposit facility.
Asked about the racks, H.T. Balakrishna, deputy director of the horticulture department, Cubbon Park, said: “Even though they (the visitors) bring food, they are allowed to carry it, but not eat. So why the need for racks?”
The Observer noted that corn was the most common garbage in Cubbon Park. It was either munched by visitors or fed to squirrels. Students, office-goers and families are regular visitors to the park.
A few visitors welcomed the measure, but most of the people The Observer spoke with agreed they bring home food to the park.
Uyam A.R., a regular visitor, who was enjoying some snacks, said food should be allowed because visitors cannot leave the park frequently. Those who eat inside the park must throw waste in bins.
Another visitor, Rishika Rio, a second-year PU student, said: “Parks are for playing and enjoying, not for eating. To eat, people should go to hotels. Even when I eat in the park, I make sure to clean it, but I have seen other people throwing leftovers.”
Authorities should allow plastic-free food and home food, she said.
The Observer saw a bunch of college-goers celebrating their friend’s birthday. They were rebuked by one of the guards as they were using party poppers and cutting cake.
Madan Gowda, who participated in the celebration, said: “We will try to clean it, but sweepers should be around us to clean the mess. It feels great to celebrate birthdays in the natural ambience of Cubbon Park.”
Another person celebrating said: “They should make a separate place for celebrations or maybe construct a canteen because it is such a large area. We came here because there’s no other place to go. Even in malls we cannot celebrate. We have faced this kind of scolding before as well,” he said.
Dr S. Umesh Kumar, a senior advocate and president of the Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association, said: “We do not support people eating on the lawns as it is the taxpayer’s money which is being spent to maintain the grass. But instead of banning the food inside the park, why not create a separate space for food?”
As many people visit Vidhana Soudha, they will bring food with them. There are various clubs in the park which sell food but are not banned.
The Observer saw a group of three women and four children enjoying home-cooked food behind Sir Mark Cubbon’s statue.
One of the women, Taslin, said: “Food should be allowed as we bring kids here and they feel hungry.”
Members of the group ate in a hurry so that guards didn’t catch them eating in the park.
H.T. Balakrishna of the horticulture department said: “The ban was always there, but now we have taken stricter measures. People were bringing food due to which a lot of rats were coming. They make holes, which promote the insurgence of snakes. They even throw plastic on the ground instead of using the dustbins.”
He added: “Some people bring lunch boxes and that is fine. But bringing parcel food is the problem. At least some maintenance is there; it is better than before.”
The Observer discovered that many people did not even know about the ban. Despite the ban, a few vendors were selling salted peanuts.