There are multiple used ganja packets, cigarette butts, codeine cough syrup and alcohol bottles strewn around. (DC)
Hyderabad: Though civic officials claim to boost the city’s lung spaces, some persons are taking advantage of unguarded parks and making them safe haven to consume alcohol and drugs, and later cause inconvenience to visitors.
The Cha Cha Nehru Park near Masab Tank is one such, with vast spaces where antisocial elements assemble and make merry. Lack of proper lighting and CCTV cameras and inadequate patrolling come handy for teens to indulge in vices.
When Deccan Chronicle visited the park, there were multiple used ganja packets, cigarette butts, codeine cough syrup and alcohol bottles strewn around. What is more alarming is that many of these were found near the children’s play area, along with heaps of other waste.
Many incidents of harassment of women and robberies at knife-point have been reported in the park, although park officials claim such incidents have reduced drastically in the past few months.
Speaking to this newspaper, a park attendant, on condition of anonymity, said teens frequented the parks late in the evening and were often seen consuming alcohol or even drugs. "We are on special deployment at this park to deal with such miscreants. I have been working here for a couple of months," he said.
"There are nine of us, who work in three shifts to deal with this menace. About 40 days ago, a visitor was robbed at knife-point by some of these teens. The miscreants scale the walls and enter the park," the attendant said.
"Some parts of the park are hidden from the main walkways and there are no lights here. So I usually come around 7 pm to ask visitors to vacate these spots and move to the central areas of the park. Many times, we have had women come running to the security point because they were being chased or harassed by some of these people," the attendant said.
A student, who also requested anonymity, said, "About three months ago, I came for a walk in the evening with a friend. I noticed five men smoking in one corner. Three men blocked us from behind while two obstructed our path in front. They tried to misbehave with us, and later threatened us, and took away Rs 750 in cash. We complained to the security but the gang had left by the time the guards reached the spot."
A GHMC employee at the park said he had witnessed cases of harassment of women as well as instances of youth smoking ganja in the park. "Once, a girl who was studying in the park came running, alleging that some of these miscreants were misbehaving with her. When we approached them, they tried to pick up a fight with us. When we said we would call the police, they left. I have also seen teens filling ganja in cigarettes and smoking them in the corners."
Park manager Bomma Lakshmi said, "Untoward accidents do happen in this park. We have received complaints from staff about miscreants drinking alcohol and smoking ganja. However, I have not received any complaints regarding eve-teasing or misbehaviour. A few months ago, our staff got into a tussle with some of these miscreants, whereby they manhandled our staff."
"Even though there is police patrolling, and DRF staff deployed in the park, there is an urgent need to increase the number of patrolling staff. I have submitted a complaint in this regard to the enforcement vigilance and disaster management office. However, action is yet to be taken," she added.