Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Where are the Parks and Playgrounds?

One of the most lamentable issues that we face in Hyderabad is the severe shortage of play grounds and parks. Children have no place to play, people have no place to congregate, walk, exercise. When we were kids, we had many open spaces, play grounds to run about, to play cricket. Now I see the children in the colony jostling with cars on the road to get a game of french cricket. It's pathetic.
Interior of park filled with makeshift temples in the middle of Srinagar Colony
We had enough empty plots in our colony to begin with. Then we had the open grounds in ESI Hospital where we played many matches. Then we had the even more bigger grounds of TB Hospital where we played some more games. Not to mention the open ground across the road from ESI, or the grounds at AG Colony. When we wanted a regular ground we could always go to Ameerpet.

Now ESI is gone, AG and TB Hospital grounds are gone. Ameerpet grounds has a monstrous building that houses a swimming pool and badminton court but the ground has been reduced by half.

 For exercise we did not need parks but in recent years we find that these small getaways for morning walks are so necessary. One can think of KBR which serves as the lungs of Hyderabad, almost single handedly catering to a large population that comes from all over. But apart from that we find few parks to walk about. The one near my colony is an exception and I have written about it earlier. Krishnakanth Park, claimed from a garbage heap, now serves as the lung space for thousands of people.

If I remember right it was during Chandra Babu Naidu's time that several parks were crated, reclaimed and even constructed. Lumbini park and NTR park, the parks around Necklace road apart, several other parks, including the one near my colony came up from wastelands. What would have been grabbed by landsharks thus became public conveniences and began providing joy to thousands. Yes. Thousands. All they need is their rightful space, to sit by,  read a book, listen to the birds, meet a friend, to look ta nature.

But for all the good work one sees some shady business. There are many little areas assigned for parks by the Municipal authorities which have disappeared. I remember an article in the Hindu a few months ago which highlighted some of the parks that have been taken over by some elements depriving the public of their space. I know of one of those.

In the middle of Srinagar Colony, close to Satya Sai Nigamagamam, is a road side shop that sells vegetables. It is a flourishing affair. But behind this shop lies a cute little space assigned for a public park. However there seems to be no access to this park thanks to the shop and whatever else is now on the pavement. But what is inside the park is more interesting. It is full of makeshift temples, idols which someone has decided to install there. A few characters come by, light candles etc and keep up the facade of religious fervour in the public park. Where all this is leading everyone knows. The park may become a temple, or even an apartment block for all one knows, in a few years.

However my grouse is with the authorities who have chosen to ignore that article written so well with pictures etc. What would it take fro the municipal authorities to wake up, reclaim the park and give a fresh pair of lungs and trees and plants to the neighbourhood? Why are they so careful not to disturb this obvious mischief? Especially when they are so alert when it comes to the slightest signs of construction activity in your house. Come on GHMC. Do your job.

The people who live around the park also do not complain. they do not behave like a community. They are all to themselves. But it is their park, their property. They can all go there and enjoy their mornings and evenings. Wonder what will now happen to this brand of land grabbing under the ruse of building temples where none existed?

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