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Playgrounds of discontent

Please let us play in our own park. We are forced to play on the streets as all the equipment in our park is damaged.Won’t you please do something for us'

This is an appeal, signed by 51 children, between four and 10 years, of Salt Lake’s BC block, that was submitted to Bidhannagar Municipality recently.

With grievances growing among the township’s residents over the plight of their parks, the municipality has held the state urban development department directly responsible.

“The department controlled the parks of Sector I and II till last year. We requested it to repair the infrastructure before handing them over to us. But our appeal went unheard,” said municipality chairman Dilip Gupta. The civic body, he pointed out, did not have the funds to maintain all 40 parks and 18 green zones.

Urban development department officials said they, too, were handicapped by a funds crunch. “That is why the parks were handed over to the municipality. They have their own sources of income,” principal secretary K.S. Rajendrakumar told Metro. The municipality holds 16 parks in Sector I and 10 parks in Sector II. Fourteen in Sector III were handed over last year.

And in the face of such charges and counter-charges, residents point to the broken benches, over-run pathways and damaged boundary walls of the parks. The children lament the broken swings and seesaws. The elderly shake their heads over the untrimmed grass and proliferation of the poisonous parthenium weed. Police say the parks have turned into havens for drug addicts and other criminals.

“All amenities were in place in our park four years ago. Now, its condition is pathetic,” said Jyotirmoy Banerjee, secretary of the EC Block Residents’ Association, which has recently submitted a memorandum to the civic body, demanding proper upkeep of their patch of greenery.

Bidyut Pal, executive comm-ittee member of the BF Block Residents’ Association, alleged that the authorities’ apathy had forced his and several other block committees to raise their own resources to maintain their respective parks.

Chandan Ghosh, CPM councillor and chairman of the civic body’s resource-mobilising committee, admitted that the grass needed to be trimmed. For the first time in this year’s budget, he said, the municipality had allotted Rs 30 lakh for upkeep of the parks. “Infrastructure repairs will be the priority,” he said.

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