Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Child’s play? NO WAY

Child’s play? NO WAY
IT’S DIFFICULT FOR KIDS TO FIND SPACE TO PLAY. THEIR SEARCH TAKES THEM FAR AND WIDE, WITH DEADLY CONSEQUENCES AT TIMES
Sunitha Rao R | TNN

Bangalore: Who plays in BBMP’s playgrounds? Not children!
Strangely, many playgrounds in the city have been converted to youth clubs, making it impossible for children below 14 years to even enter the grounds, let alone playing. College students and members of clubs use these spaces for their tournaments.
Children below 14 are not allowed to join them and playing wherever they can, most often in front of their houses even as traffic flows by.
What’s worse, playgrounds in many areas are encroached upon and converted for commercial purposes. “In many playgrounds, especially in Jayanagar East, there are skating clubs, basketball, athletic, gymnasium training camps. Only members are allowed there, and children of the area are left without space to play,” says B Chandrappa, former playground officer, BBMP.
The BBMP’s plans to involve residents and corporators to give children back their space have remained on paper. “We’d planned to form a committee to monitor playgrounds but it’s still in the pipeline,’’ admit BBMP officials.
Residents point out that local politicians support youth sports clubs and encourage them to use the playgrounds. “When we come to play with children in the Jayanagar Kittur Rani Chennamma playground beside our house, it’s usually occupied by others. Many of them aren’t even from surrounding areas. Our children end up playing in front of homes or on terraces,” said Manasa Ravi, a resident of Pipeline Road in Jayanagar East.
Besides, many schools use playgrounds in their vicinity for regular physical education classes and that reduces space for games like football or cricket which children love to play with friends after school.
NO BUDGETARY PROVISION
BBMP’s Rs 8,488-crore budget has no funds for providing playgrounds, even in newly added wards where children have no space to play.
‘GIVE US SOME SPACE’
We’re a group of seven boys who come to Kittur Rani Chennamma Stadium thrice a week to play cricket. But every time, it’s the same problem — there’s no space left for us as there’s always some tournament or the other or practice session of adults or college students will be already playing there. After 7pm, it’s less crowded but our parents don’t like us playing there after dusk as it’s not safe. We play on roads but that is equally unsafe. There should be a separate playground, exclusively for children.
—Naveen K V | CLASS 8 STUDENT, JAYANAGAR
OFFICIAL LINE
There are totally 154 playgrounds in the older wards maintained by BBMP. Earlier, BBMP’s education department had appointed a playground officer who would take care of all the playgrounds. Now, with decentralization in place, eight zones of BBMP (engineering department) have taken up the maintenance of playgrounds in their limits. However, BBMP is yet to make room for playgrounds in newly added wards. Wards like DJ Halli, Shakambari Nagar and Maruthi Seva Nagar have no playgrounds though they’re in the core areas.

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