Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Potholed dustbowl

Potholed dustbowl

S S ShreekumarFirst Published : 02 Mar 2010 04:54:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 02 Mar 2010 08:35:55 AM IST
BANGALORE: What was once lush green acres of playground has now been reduced to an uneven, brown dustbowl littered with potholes and stone slabs. The plunder of the popular National High School grounds in Basavangudi, which was once home to players such as BS Chandrasekhar, GR Vishwanath and Vijaykumar, is causing grave concern among the sporting fraternity.
The corporation has launched a Rs 3-crore project to improve facilities, but, instead of improving, the playground has gone from bad to worse. MPs, MLAs and corporators have all shared concern but have done precious little to ameliorate the suffering of school students who utilise the ground, as well as football, cricket, basketball and tennis players for whom these are serious pursuits.
The construction of a swimming pool at one end in the 1980s started the decline.
City cricketers used that part for their daily practice. The shooting range adjacent to it vanished. A hockey field was marked out next to the basketball courts but that too has not seen the light of day.
The football field, where greats like Papanna, Ramanna, B Krishnappa, Gopi, Marianna, were regulars, is an apology of a field. The entire ground is uneven, has potholes galore and is littered with bricks and stones.
“They dug up the ground and dumped debris. Fear of injury makes in scary to play on especially when it rains,” says a player on condition of anonymity.
“They built concrete galleries but no one sits there to watch anything. Conducting football or cricket tournaments is impossible in these conditions. The galleries are being used for all sorts of illegal activities after dark. In the evening, the ground is converted into a place to learn driving as two-wheelers and fourwheelers come screaming in,” he adds.
“The ground does not have toilets but is an open toilet for the public as it does not have proper security,” he says.
With the metro project coming up close to the ground and a station being planned, the fear is that the ground will be converted into a parking lot, unless proper security is in place.
The wind constantly blows up dust as hundreds of children and club players practice, posing a health hazard.
Political rallies and meetings addressed by well-known politicians of the country have also been held on the ground.
However, now the corporation has been renting out the premises for health-related camps and these are rendering it unfit for sports activity, which it is primarily meant for.
Football leagues, interschool and inter-college tournaments, the popular Basavangudi Cup cricket tournament have all become things of the past. When the authorities can spend crores of rupees on cement and steel to put up galleries, what prevents them from undertaking projects to improve the sporting grounds and stadia.
Someone should step in before it is too late and the ground is gobbled up for commercial exploitation. The MP, MLA and corporator of the area should pay a visit to the National College playgrounds where the sporting fraternity awaits them.

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