Once boastful of its picturesque beauty and wildlife, Kund has undergone a drastic makeover since the floods last year and now resembles a wasteland.
Uprooted trees, collapsed bridges and dirt, broken cages and withering greenery are all that remain of the park that is situated at the confluence of the Indus River and Kabul River in Swabi.
Presently, broken cages housing some pigeons are all that remain of the wildlife sanctuary, while wild bushes shroud the rest of the huge enclosure.
There are two routes to enter the park: an 8km driven on a bumpy road from Tordher area of Swabi or an electric lift from Khairabad in Nowshera district.
Once inside the park, one can see the damages done by the devastating floods last year. There’s a tube well that does not have any water and a broken water filtration plant in a corner.
“This reminds me of Karbala,” commented a visitor, Tilla Mohammad Shabab, from Swabi.
Shahbab, a government school teacher, was chaperoning school children on a trip to the park. The children, he said, were disappointed as soon as they got off from the buses. “There is nothing here that could amuse children. The place is ruined,” Shahbab said of the park that was once the nearest picnic spots for residents of Swabi.
The silt left behind by the 2010 floods has not been cleared. The southern end of the park that once offered a magnificent view of the junction of the Indus and Kabul rivers has now been covered by wild bushes and one has to cut their way through dirty tracks, trying to keep oneself from getting entangled into a mesh of bushes.
Aamir, another visitor, told The Express Tribune that the park did not even have drinking water. “A soft drink costs Rs25 here, while it’s available for Rs18 in the market.”
He added that the park does not have any water for cooking or drinking. Moreover the entry fee was jacked up to Rs20, up from Rs10 before the floods. The electric lift costs Rs20 per person per trip. Others complained that the parking fee has been doubled to Rs50 after the floods.
“I do not know where this money is going, as the park’s condition is getting scarier with each passing day,” Aamir said.
He added that one could not call it a park and the authorities are charging people for an open space.
Imtiaz Ali, another visitor was of the view that it was very good picnic spot before it was turned into a park.
Locals used to call it ‘Bella’ before it was named Kund Park and used to be a good picnic spot. However, its condition worsened when government took over, Ali said, adding, “First the authorities destroyed its ecosystem as all those huge trees were chopped down and now you can see the condition for yourself.”
A shop owner inside the shop said that for past seven days, the power supply was switched off and that they had to carry ice to chill soft drinks and water.
The park spreads over 176 acres, with Kabul River lying to its north and Indus River to its south. One can also have a glimpse of the historic Attock fort and crossing and also Attock district across the river from there.
At least 70 mammals including around 20 black and brown bears and blackbuck, spotted deer, hog deer and chinkara were reportedly lost during the floods and now an empty huge enclosure stares in the face.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2011.