'Give us our park, or else...'

A childs ultimatum

Pragya, all of 11, has issued a 15-day ultimatum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit over a park in her locality.

In her letter, Pragya said that if the park near her house in Sheikh Sarai, Phase 1 is not opened for children to play, a group of children will start breaking down the wall surrounding the park.

“Hi, aunts and uncles. This is Pragya again. Just wanted to thank you for your support but nothing has happened on this issue. I am very upset. I am giving you 15 days time up to October 23 to get the opening made. If nothing happens from October 24, the day of Dusshera, I will start hammering the wall. It may take a year or so but I will not stop hammering the wall until the opening is created,” Pragya said in her letter.

In June, she had written twice to the president of the area’s resident welfare association to allow children to play in the park. Around 18 childr­en had signed the letters supporting her demand. But the park gates remained closed.

Pragya had also approached the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) and received a reply on June 18.  The commission wrote to the Malviya Nagar police station house officer, asking him to take action immediately and submit a report in 15 days. After trying every possible means, Pragya wrote her first letter to the prime minister’s office a month ago. “We got a call from the Municipal Corporation officials a week ago asking if the matter was resolved. But nothing has happened yet.

When we approached the police and Delhi Development Authority, they said they cannot do anything in the matter. Everybody is passing the buck,” said her father Indu Prakash, an activist who works for the rights of the homeless.

Several children across Delhi have often complained that play areas have shrunk in the City as they have been taken up by ornamental parks, temples, pathways and even converted into garbage dumps where even glass pieces are thrown.

“Encroachment of parks and public spaces is a prominent issue. We had proposed to the government to open up school playgrounds for play after school hours. But we have not received any response yet,” Butterflies NGO founder director, Rita Panicker said.
The PMO has taken note of the matter and forwarded Pragya’s letter to the MCD Commissioner concerned.

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