Opinion | The distressing lack of enjoyable open spaces3 min read . Updated: 07 Jan 2019, 12:04 AM IST
Growing crowds during large congregations, such as on New Year's Day, and conflicts over shrinking spaces indicate that much remains to be done to make our cities more social
As the sun came out by midday on a chilly New Year’s Day in Delhi, hordes of people started descending on the city’s few large open public spaces. Over a 100,000 people were at India Gate alone. The zoo recorded its highest visitor count ever. By late afternoon, unprecedented crowds had brought central Delhi to a standstill. New Year’s Day along Mumbai’s Marine Drive promenade or Chennai’s Marina Beach is no different. And the crowds are rising every year, clearly indicating the distressing lack of adequate safe, enjoyable open spaces in India’s cities where people can spend a day away from work. Even on otherwise ordinary days, enough city dwellers get into fights over inches of public, common-use land—whether to pray, play cricket, or take a walk—to make this an issue of concern. Several neighbourhoods in Gurugram were up in arms in the middle of 2018 over allowing namaz gatherings in open spaces. When limited facilities in a city meet India’s deep cleavages of religion and class, conflicts flare up.
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