Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sports, games being squeezed out of National High School ground

Sports, games being squeezed out of National High School ground

The Hindu

Ground being used for political rallies, cultural events, religious discourses and conventions

# 11 sports clubs protest
# Say ground is turning into a garbage dump
# Appeal to Governor, Chief Minister to intervene

BANGALORE: Sports and games are under siege at the popular and prestigious National High School ground nowadays. Cricket and other games have shared an abiding relationship with the school, and their sports clubs are now in ferment:

The precious space where they play tournaments and practice can no longer be taken for granted. They have to compete now with political rallies, cultural events, religious discourses, conventions and a host of such events that have nothing whatsoever to do with sports or games.

Last week, 11 sports clubs that use the ground adjacent to National High School decided to take out a silent march carrying black flags. "This playground has been the home of many famous tournaments and matches. Many star sportspersons have begun their careers here. But today, the venue of the prestigious Basavanagudi Cup Cricket Tournament, which has been played there for over 10 years, gives the first call to political-cultural-religious events," says a representative.

In a letter addressed to Governor T.N. Chaturvedi, Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh, Basavanagudi MLA Chandrashekar and others, the groups say of late the playground has seen 15 to 20 events being hosted every year. Each of these programmes, where very often the VVIP guests include the President, the Governor, the Chief Minister or other ministers, call for preparations that run into more than four to five days. The run-up to the actual event involves putting up of huge shamianas, digging up the ground to fix poles and scaffolding for the dais.

Post-event, the "cleaning up process" involves pulling down the shamianas. However, neither the organisers nor the civic authorities bother to do the cleaning up. Garbage remains dumped in copious quantities comprising used plastic cups and plates and leftovers. Very often visitors and guests at the event would have used the place as an open toilet as well.

Is this the way to encourage sports, the sports groups ask, as the cricket pitch turns into a garbage dump-cum-toilet. Relaying the pitch means an expense of Rs. 15,000, which needless to say, has to be borne by the sports clubs.

Former Mayor's promise

Mr. Chandrashekar, who was the Mayor of Bangalore a few years ago, was shown the deplorable state of affairs on the ground, the garbage dump and all.

He had vowed at the time that the ground would not be given out for organising political or social events that go one for days, or even exhibitions and sales, homas, discourses and the like. However, even as recently as last week, the playground was host to the Mahabharata Utsav, which had President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as the chief guest.

The 11 sports clubs have demanded that the grounds should not be used for non-sports events any more. They are BUFC, City Jumpers, Star Shooters, Hindu Socials, BUFC Women's Wing, Jayanagar Colts, Chamarajpet Cricket Club, V.V. Puram Cricket Club, City Cricketers, Bangalore Cricketers and Merchants Cricket Club.

Once known as the Hindu XI ground after a football club, the National High School ground has shrunk in area with the construction of a corporation swimming pool. It is the only open space in Basavanagudi and its thickly populated adjoining areas.


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