While the state was celebrating Bhagat Singh's birthday, a municipal park named after him in Mansa did not see any official visit or programme. The visitors in the park had a lot to say about how the 60-year-old park had been left to survive on its own.
"This park has no electricity poles, toilets or facility of drinking water. After sunset, people prefer to not enter its premises," said Mohanlal, who claimed the park had been in the area for more than 50 years. Men of different age groups can be seen playing cards in the half-acre park which has a transformer right at the front and faces the problem of garbage dumping.
Naresh Kumar, general secretary of a group called Anti Crime and Corruption Committee (ACCC), is looking after the beautification of the park with the help of contributions from his registered group. "We have placed our requests to the deputy commissioner as well as the SDM, but we have not received any response from them. Whatever construction work you can witness here is solely our voluntary service. No administrative official has ever visited the park," said Kumar.
Residents claim the park is a safe haven for drunkards. "Though women visit the park in the morning for exercise, they refrain from coming here during the evening. How can you expect women to come to a park where half of the men are busy drinking or playing cards?" said Mohanlal. He expressed regret that the administration had not done enough to restore the park, even on the eve of Bhagat Singh's birthday.
The gardener who was busy trying to restore the lost glory of the park said the park was surviving due to the contributions of the local people. '"The benches and other facilities have been arranged by the members of ACCC," said Abdraj, the gardener.
The deputy commissioner who has taken initiatives against illegal encroachment ensured that proper plans had been designed and would be executed soon. "We don't want to handover the responsibility to any novice group. We want the administration and the locals to work together as it happens in other cities.
I am not denying the fact that there have been lapses on the part of the municipal corporation and I have been discussing the issue of maintaining parks and public places with our deputy chief minister. I ensure that the programme to start the beautification of the park will be launched very soon," said Pravin Kumar Thind, the deputy commissioner.