Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Park on paper, every man’s land in reality

Park on paper, every man’s land in reality

A court ruling confirmed the land was for a playground and park. Today, it is in a state of “benign neglect”.

Deccan Herald

There is a piece of land in Bangalore that nobody appears to own, yet everybody seems to want a part of. The post office ground in Koramangala, also known as PO.
On the face of it, it is a playground. Every day, a dozen ardent footballers or so, besides a few cricketers, gather towards evening to kick a ball around or swing a bat. On weekends, of course, it is packed with sportsmen.

Strange plans have been hatched on the ground for ages, says a resident, who asked not to be named. An eye hospital was to have come up sometime ago (on site 39c), and a school (39a). What was left of the playground would be sandwiched in between. Another time a “cultural centre” with a rather large dining hall was to have come up on site 42. The ground has also been used to tent unskilled labourers laying fiber optic cables.

Where’s the referee?
A 2001 High Court ruling decreed that only the school was to be allowed, on 42 and a bit of 39 A. The rest of it is a ‘park and playground’, and should remain so.
Today, it lies in what the resident terms “benign neglect”.

Last week, someone dumped stones and mud for what he said was the construction of a walkway, someone who vanished on being questioned and didn’t show up again.

Squatters’ zone
Parked on the landscape is a ‘gentleman’ who runs a cricket camp, and charges various companies for use of the nets.

It is not clear who has given him permission to do so, or who he pays a rent to for use of the ground. Wherever the money goes, it is not for the development of the ground, anyway. Parthenium punctuates a lot of the ground.. Site 41 is more of a, well, “squatters’ zone”, especially in the mornings. These citizens have cut their way through a fence that was erected by the corporation, and then forgotten.
As for the ground, it is hardly the most even of surfaces, with funny slopes dictating the flow of a game.

The 1976 BDA Act states that 15 per cent of an area must be reserved for ‘playground and park’, a category distinct from a civic amenity site, like a school or hospital. The 1984 CDP shows that some 9 per cent of Koramangala was to consist of such land.

And the actual scene today? A mere 4 per cent or so.


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