According to details being the capital and a planned city, Islamabad has some 175 small and big public parks and playgrounds, where its residents can carry out healthy and recreational activities.
Unfortunately, most of the parks and playgrounds are in shabby conditions. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) with around 1,200 technical and non-technical staff for the purpose has failed to maintain the same.
The Fatima Jinnah Park, also known as F9 Park, is one of the largest parks of the country. Most of its area is covered by greenery, with a few man-made structures dotting the landscape. Its dilapidated condition speaks volumes about the apathy of CDA officials.
Instead of maintaining its natural outlook, the park has been turned into a sanctuary for wildlife, with the exception of some area, which is located close to residential areas. Most of the benches and lights are broken. The facility of clean drinking water is also not available.
Soon after sunset, many wild animals are seen roaming in the park, keeping the visitors away. Parks and playgrounds in many sectors are in poor and pathetic conditions.
“The parks situated in most of the sectors, including F6, F7, G6, G7 and G8 are in pathetic conditions with broken jogging tracks, swings, lights and benches,” said Amjad Iqbal, a resident of Sector G8/2.
He said wild bushes had grown in a park close to his house. It had now virtually turned into a jungle.
Rustam Shah, who resides in Sector F6/1, said the swings and other playing instruments installed at a park near his house had broken, posing a threat to children. There was no one to replace or get them repaired, depriving his children and others of the locality of the recreational facilities, he added.
Most of the parks are thronged by revellers and junkies in the evening, making it impossible for families to enjoy free time.
The residents of the city have demanded the CDA to take notice of the situation and ensure quality entertainment facilities at the parks.
There is a different story for Rawal Lake View Park, a major recreational place of the Capital. Here, the visitors are fleeced by vendors who charge them exorbitantly for soft drinks and edibles.
According to Saleem, a regular visitor of the park, a cup of tea costs Rs 30. What to speak of other drinks and edible items. The vendors charge the visitors at their will without caring for any action by the authorities concerned, he added.
The visitors also complain of high entry fee at the public parks, besides parking fee. When contacted, a CDA official said no funds had been allocated for the maintenance of parks since 2011. Only a meagre amount was released by the previous CDA chairman for maintenance and upgrading of 46 public parks.
The current CDA boss, Maroof Afzal, seems to be interested in the maintenance of parks. He recently visited various parks of the city and directed the department concerned to expedite their maintenance and upgrading.
All the modern facilities should be provided at the parks so that the citizens could enjoy their free time in recreational activities there, he directed.