Afire engine parked inside the Priyadarshini Park at Nepean Sea Road has cut off access for locals to a large part of the walking track. The engine broke through gate number 2 of the park two days ago, and has been stationed on the track ever since, sending locals into an absolute tizzy at first, and then into furor.

Meanwhile, the Malabar Hill Citizens Forum, that develops and maintains the park is in a legal battle with civic authorities over it. The BMC wants the park under its control, but the citizens’ forum is resisting that. To add a twist to the events was the entrance of the fire engine damaging the gate while entering and parking itself on the walking track.

Fire authorities now say that they will take a slice of the park, with the fire chief telling this paper that it will be a small portion, and not the whole park. Yet, citizens have grounds to be alarmed. All agencies need to be sensitized to the citizens’ plight. How many times have we seen green spaces gobbled up when we see interested parties stick literally by the idiom, ‘give them an inch and they will take a yard’?

While nobody is disputing the fact that the area needs a fire station, alternatives exist even in a space-crunched city like ours, or they have to be made. It is inexcusable that parks are taken up on the pretext of providing civic facilities for people.

Let us remember that even BMC personnel, fire workers and other employees of city agencies are citizens who need to enjoy and appreciate our open spaces. A fire station cannot be allowed to slice through a portion of the park.
This should be simply non-negotiable. Parking a fire engine smack in the middle of a walking track is inexcusable. Do not take away green spaces. There are tremendous benefits to having these parks. It is time we respect that.