HYDERABAD ~ Laughter is really not the best medicine, especially for animals—at least according to the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department, which has ordered a laughter club evicted from a national park, reasoning that it disturbs animals.
The KBR Haasya Yoga Club meets daily at KBR National Park, a piece of lush forest in the heart of Hyderabad. Recently, they were told to take their laughter out of the park. Forest officials told them that the loud sounds were scaring away birds and animals. Members of the club were not amused and have contested the ban as an infringement of their fundamental rights.
Club member OA Seth says regular doses of willful laughter can help cure or control lifestyle diseases, depression, anxiety and cardiac disease. “The Forest Department’s objections are completely unreasonable. We have the right to de-stress ourselves by laughing out loud and nobody can stop that,’’ he adds.
The 350 acre park straddles Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills, two prime zones of real estate, and is managed by the state Forest Department. It is home to 600 species of plants, 30 varieties of butterflies, 140 bird species and some reptiles. Forest officials say some of that fauna could be affected by the loud laughing.
The laughter club has moved a plea against the eviction in the Andhra High Court and recently got a stay order. The Court directed officials to earmark an area of the park premises for the club’s members. However, the Department has indicated it will contest the order. It says that the Wildlife Protection Act bars people from making loud noises, including laughing, inside any national park.
An officer incharge of the park says that “though the court has asked us to demarcate a spot for club members, there is no scope to do such a thing under the law.’’
The club has for the time being shifted to a vacant plot of land near the park, but will not relent in its struggle to assert the right to have a laugh. What remains to be seen is who will have the last one.▪