Palike losing ground!

Playing around

These grounds are used for hosting public or political events such as exhibitions, rallies, protests, demonstrations and public meetings. A list of the City’s better grounds ought to include the likes of the Malleswaram Grounds, Jayanagar Playground, Rajajinagar Playground and Shivajinagar Grounds. Yet, these spaces often fall prey to the public and political engagements.

Here are some glaring facts: According to the estimates of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP),  there are only 150 playgrounds available for the future generations to stake their claim at sporting glory.

Life seems to have stood still for many school children with little or no encouragement to excel in sports. A career in outdoor sports, which requires a grounding in the grounds, seems to have lost in transition. With the development mantra of the City’s current regime not apparently including playgrounds, there seems to be little or no respite for the children of today to have an open field to play, atleast in the public domain.

A cricketer from Malleshwaram, Chaithanya, who regularly plays at the Jayanagar Grounds, laments that his practice suffers for almost a month everytime there is a political or public event on the ground. The civic authorities do not patch up the damage done to the ground after the event, he complains. The BBMP officials say they are left with no other choice but to let the ground on rent. As a senior Palike official put it, BBMP simply cannot stop people from holding events if they are ready to pay the rent.

However, it is often seen that playgrounds of BBMP-run schools are also being used by some private English-medium schools that don’t have their own grounds. 

It is not that the Palike is unaware of such practices. But thanks to political connections, some private schools manage to prevent the officials from taking action. “We need a strict mechanism to prevent such practices” is all that a Palike official will say to control this trend.

Legislation

Rampant encroachments and lack of sensitivity in preserving the playgrounds for the future generations have shrunk the open spaces in the City. To safeguard the last few remaining public playgrounds, the Palike is now banking upon a legislation called the Karnataka Parks, Open Spaces and Playgrounds Act.

The BBMP has notified as many as 1067 parks, playgrounds and open spaces under the act. The draft notification on the 1000-odd land space was gazetted on June 8 and time was given till September for objections to be made, pending which a final gazette is to be drawn.

Officials in the Palike state that it is the only way that the public spaces can now be preserved from political influence and encroachments.

Sports goes private

With public spaces for sports dwindling, many parents are heading for private clubs to help their children get a sound grounding. Private academies have jumped into the fray to tap the underlying business opportunities.

No wonder, the City is today home to several such academies. Among the big names are the Nisha Millet's Swimming Academy, Tennis Village, Force One, and Rugby Union.

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