RAWALPINDI: Stagnant water and heaps of garbage welcome visitors to Nawaz Sharif Park, one of the Rawalpindi’s largest public parks.
Spread over 226 kanals on the main Benazir Bhutto Road, the park is fast losing its attraction due to official neglect. Its fountains are dry, dustbins missing, and tracks poorly maintained.
A senior staff member, requesting not to be named, said the park was earlier divided into different parts, which included kids play area, lawns, fountains and flower beds.
With monsoon rains, the lawns have been turned into mosquito breeding sites as rainwater remains accumulated most of the time. “Although the park management has all the required equipment to drain out the rainwater, the water is pumped out only when a dengue prevention team’s visit is expected,” he said.
Farzana, a visitor, said the staff was not performing its duties as the park was in bad shape. She said she did not want to visit the park but came on the insistence of her children to visit the “Eid Mela” at the park.
The park also houses offices of Punjab Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA).
Three large fountains in the park give a deserted look as they remain dry on most days. Tiles and bricks at different parts of the fountains are also damaged. A large area of the park is covered with wild bushes and uncut grass.
“Visiting the polluted park with family means to invite dengue fever and multiple other infections,” said Zeeshan Ali, a local resident. He said he used to come here with his children but not anymore.
“Large numbers of visitors from surrounding areas used to visit the park, especially for jogging. Children also used to come to play but now it has lost all its attractions,” said Mazhar Hussain, a security guard at the park.
Park’s fountains are dry, dustbins missing and tracks not well-maintained. PHOTOS: SHAZIA MEHBOOB & ZAFAR ASLAM/EXPRESS/
“Now only the people who have no other place to go come here,” said Muhammad Saleem, who runs a stall outside the park.
Bashir Khan, project director of the park, said most of the staff of the horticulture authority was busy in horticulture work along the metro route and thus the park was facing negligence.
Khan said the park had 30 gardeners and six sanitary workers but only six were currently available for work. He also blamed the monsoon rains and “lack of awareness among the visitors” for poor condition of the park.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2015.