Updated: January 20, 2022 8:24:51 am
AFTER CLOSING parks and other outdoor spaces due to rise in Covid cases, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is now facing public pressure to reopen them to enable people to do physical exercise in the open. However, the civic administration has passed the issue to the forthcoming Covid-19 review meeting to be chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday.
As per the directions of the state government, the PMC decided to shut swimming pools, gyms, gardens and parks for the public, citing rising Covid infections in the city. However, it came under criticism for not allowing the public to visit such places to do physical exercise and remain fit. Thus, it allowed gyms to operate with 50% capacity.
“I had extensive discussions with the mayor of Pune about reopening of outdoor spaces. We are confident that a decision to reopen parks and outdoor spaces will be taken in the coming review meeting on Friday which will be chaired by Guardian Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar,” said Siddharth Shirole, BJP’s legislator from Shivajinagar constituency.
The PMC had shut over 100 parks forthe public while the Forest department has also closed their premises of urban forests to the public. The parks and urban forests in the city are places where people do physical exercise in the morning and evening. Many residents visit parks, which also have open gyms. The shutting of parks have forced the citizens to take to streets and footpaths for their daily exercise.
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“I have been a regular at Sambhaji Garden for physical exercise. I, along with my wife, visit the garden in the morning and evening where we mostly do walking and yoga. However, now the garden has been closed due to Covid surge and so we have to walk on streets and footpaths for our daily physical exercise and keep ourselves fit,” said Padmakar Chavan, a resident of Shivajinagar.
In many places, residents face problems walking on streets and footpaths due to the traffic and parking of vehicles on footpaths. The PMC is also under criticism for its failure to repair roads that were dug to lay water and drainage pipes in various parts of city. “The dug up roads and footpaths add to our woes. The lanes and footpaths are too narrow and they have been dug up for civic work leaving no space for pedestrians. It becomes risky to walk on such roads,” said Kalpana Joshi of Sadashiv Peth.
BJP corporator and standing committee chairperson Hemant Rasane said the PMC has been directed to speed up the repair of roads.
Suresh Kamble of Hingne Khurd said it doesn’t make sense to allow gyms to operate and keep open spaces closed for public. “The authorities should keep outdoor spaces open along with gyms. They are for the fitness of people,” he said.
In the past, the PMC had reopened the parks and gardens for public to do physical exercise on condition that they should not sit in the premises and strictly use it for physical exercise only. There was also strict conditions on following Covid norms, but the public violated them, forcing the PMC to close the parks.
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