By | 26 Aug 2022 at 11:21 PM

A small board with a message banning the entry of couples inside a garden-cum-jogging track near the picturesque Pashan lake in Pune city has triggered a controversy with activists demanding its immediate removal by the local civic body.

Members of the ‘Right to Love’, an NGO which is running a campaign for having gardens exclusively for lovers in the city, have taken a strong objection to the board and asked the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to remove it.

However, the PMC’s garden department has maintained the decision to curb the entry of couples in the walkway-cum-garden was taken nearly 6 years back and it was not a recent move.

The issue got amplified after photos of the board stating ”couples are not allowed” in the garden in the Pashan lake area went viral on social media. The board has been put up just outside the garden.

”The PMC has issued a ‘fatwa’ (edict) curbing the entry of unmarried couples citing it affects the bird watching activity in the Pashan lake area. Such a diktat is completely illegal and violates fundamental rights of citizens. Such a fatwa needs to be cancelled,” said advocate Vikas Shinde, a member of the Right to Love.

A memorandum has been submitted to the PMC commissioner and the superintendent of gardens by the NGO for lifting the ban, he said.

Shinde said his NGO has been asking the civic body to declare at least 10 gardens in Pune city ‘exclusively for lovers’.

However, a local resident, who visits the garden and the lake area regularly, said on several occasions couples had been found engaging in inappropriate behaviour.

”We are not against them (couples), but this is not the place to indulge in such acts. Now, the PMC has put up a board outside. We need more CCTVs to avoid any untoward incident,” said the resident.

PMC’s Garden Superintendent Ashok Ghorpade said no fresh decision has been taken by the corporation to disallow unmarried couples inside the garden.

The board in question was put up 5 to 6 years back when untoward incidents were reported there, he said.

”It is not a public garden. We developed it to preserve bio-diversity as migratory birds visit there and ornithologists come there to watch these birds. Some senior citizens complained a few years ago about unmarried couples visiting the garden and indulging in fights or some other improper acts. Following such complaints, a decision was taken to put up the board,” he said.

Ghorpade also said there had been cases of suicide in the lake area in the past.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)