Leisure no more

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Manpriya Singh

Do they really have to turn carnivals to flea markets? Or shouldn’t we be responsible enough and know how to use a green belt without the crass destruction that usually follows a commercial event? A day after the High Court came down heavily on the administration for the harm caused to Leisure Valley in the process of commercial activities and said a firm ‘no’ to any such future events with an immediate effect; there is a loud cheer and also major concerns.

At stake is the city’s green belt, one of the largest sites developed by Le Corbusier. At ease are the residents, the morning joggers and evening strollers. At a loss are the merry-makers, commercial organisers, the shows, the carnivals that we’ve always associated with Sector 10. In the lurch are perhaps those who have less than a week to reschedule the venue.

too irresponsible

Although happy with the way the Department of Horticulture has maintained the Leisure Valley, it has taken more than a year of active campaigning to bring the commercial activities to a halt, shares Col. Kulwinder Singh, general secretary, Resident Welfare Association, Sector 10. He adds, “Lately such events had become too frequent and too disruptive. That area is used by the residents and senior citizens for their morning and evening walks. Not to mention, the filth and garbage invariably left behind after such events. We tolerated it for a while, but the use of green belt for such commercial activities is uncalled for especially when the administration has already ear-marked places like community centres for commercial or private events.”

Look for other venues

Although the first edition of the Grub-Fest, a pan-India food festival, happened at Leisure Valley, the organizers are more than happy to scout for other locations. While the dates for the next edition of the festival are already out for Saturday and Sunday of mid-November, the hunt is on for the perfect location. ‘We are looking at Parade Ground,” shares Sahil, from the programme team of the Grub Fest, while absolutely respecting the decision of the High Court.

“It’s good only. Even before when we did do an event, the administration was a little unclear about the facilities they would provide us. There was no clarity from their end and even the morning-walkers delayed our set-up by four to five hours.” Perhaps the only apprehension is there aren’t very many equally good venues available in tricity.

Will tourism be affected?

Live bands, vendors, carnivals, amidst picturesque environment… all contribute to the big happening and happy image of the city. Will the joy ride come to an end? All set for the first-ever edition of food and home décor show, Show-Sha, which was scheduled for Oct 6 to 8 at Leisure Valley, Aditya Sharma is left clueless by the decision, with no option but to postpone it.

“We are definitely going to respect the verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, but the authorities should have considered the crucial time before giving such verdict,” he shares, in context of his event that was lined up for first weekend of October. “We had as many as 72 participants coming in from all over India and now with almost one week left, we have nowhere to go, especially as all the venues are booked in the festive season.”

He adds, “But we do hope that the verdict is given for longer period and no concessions should be given to chosen parties in the future. With this kind of uncertainty of venues and such notices at the last minute, even tourism is affected, as we do not have anything for entertainment in Chandigarh during the festive season.”

What is MC for?

There is no denying the loss of revenues for the MC. But if the revenues are generated for the maintenance and upkeep of parks, they are back to square one. “Our purpose is maintenance of the surroundings for the welfare of the people. If they are inconvenienced by the sub-letting of green areas and if they are destructed in the process, then what good are the revenues?” opines Sanjeev Kumar, Public Relations Officer, Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh.

manpriya@tribunemail.com



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