Srinagar: Morning walkers and joggers are again out on streets in summer capital, Srinagar, where paid parks, including Iqbal Park, which remained flooded with people in the morning and evening hours before the second wave of COVID-19, continued to wear a deserted look.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on April 24 announced the closure of all paid public parks till further orders to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir.
The State Executive Committee (SEC) had said that account of the prevailing COVID situation in J&K, the SEC in exercise of the powers conferred upon it under Section 24 of the Disaster Management Act, hereby, orders that all paid public parks shall remain closed for visitors till further orders.
Due to corona curfew in view of increase in the COVID cases, majority people remained indoor due to threat of getting infected.
However, as the administration eased corona curfew restrictions following drop in the COVID positive cases, joggers and morning walkers are back on the streets in Srinagar though there is always a threat of accident.
In many areas, including uptown, civil lines and down town, people including elderly persons and women walking and doing different exercises on main and interior roads. We have decided to jog on the roads since all paid parks which were used by people, particularly in the morning and evening hours daily are still closed, the morning walkers said.
They said the Dr Sir Mohumannad Iqbal Park in the city remained closed since April 25. The park remained flooded with hundreds of walkers and joggers, including women, before the park was declared out of bounds for them by the administration due to corona curfew, they added.
The otherwise busy park wore a deserted look this morning as all gates remained shut. Water in the artificial pond in the park looks dirty as it has reportedly not been changed since the imposition of corona curfew.
Similarly, other paid parks, including Badamwari in the down town, also remained closed for visitors. Hundreds of people were jogging and doing other physical exercises in the park before the imposition of lockdown.
‘We have left with no alternative but to walk and jog on roads though there is a threat of accident’, said Nissar Ahmad who was walking on main Srinagar-Natipora road today alongwith his diabetic wife. She had been advised by doctors to do brisk morning walk for about half an hour to control diabetes, Nissar a retired government employee said. However, he said they were walking in the Iqbal park which was safe from dust and accidents besides dogs.
Witnesses also saw people, including women, walking on Jehangir Chowk-Rambagh fly over. Though there is a threat of being hit by speedy vehicles, but at least it is free from dogs and dust, said Bashir Ahmad.
The walkers and joggers demanded immediate lifting of ban on paid parks since majority elders have taken corona vaccine and are following Stand Operating Procedure (SOP)—wearing masks and keeping social distance.
Doctors and experts said taking morning or evening walks by people is a good sign. It shows how people now care for their health, which was missing in the past. However, doing physical exercises and other activities on roads is dangerous, they said and demanded reopening of parks with strict instructions to follow SOPs.