Come back where, Minister?

Come back where, Minister?

BBMP may derail Ashokas plan to restore playgrounds to children

Come back where, Minister?

On Wednesday, Bangalore In-charge Minister R Ashoka ceremoniously launched the ‘Come Back to the Playgrounds’ programme at the offices of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike which has decided to acquire a major portion of  the Malleswaram playground on the 18th Cross for widening the Sankey Road.

The minister, who spoke eloquently about how the dearth of playgrounds was forcing children to spend time in front of the television and computer thereby losing out on physical activity, seemed to have glossed  over the fact that the playground at Malleswaram 18th Cross is the lifeline for three educational institutions in the vicinity.

It is the sole open space for students of the Maharani Lakshmi Ammanni College, Government Pre-University College and the Kendriya Vidyalaya - Malleswaram.

That apart, the ground is filled with children from the area every evening. In contrast with the minister’s remarks on Wednesday, a major portion of the ground will be lost to a ‘development’ project.

As per the proposal for the road widening project, the BBMP has decided to acquire seven to eight metres of the playground along the Sankey Road stretch and cut down 40-odd trees in the ground.

This, despite appeals made to the Chief Minister’s office last July. There were also plans to convert the ground near the Malleswaram police station into an underground parking lot. Residents in the vicinity still fear that the Palike may revive the proposal.

May acquire land

On Wednesday, Ashoka had also said that the government may acquire private land through transfer of development rights (TDR) in areas where there are no playgrounds.

But what about the few surviving public open spaces like that in Malleswaram?

It may be recalled that the minister had gone on record at a public function stating that the Palike is discussing with the officers of the Sports Authority of India to select 25 trainers to train children in various games like volleyball, basketball, tennis, kabaddi and kho-kho.

But where are the grounds to help children pursue these sports?

With only 154 playgrounds left, it is only a matter of time before the playgrounds will be lost to BBMP’s grandiose plans for road widening and underground parking lots.

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