The Telegraph
Monday , July 14 , 2014
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In run-up to I-Day, Maidan off-limits

Come August 1, residents have to steer clear of Gandhi Maidan, the city’s 62-acre lush green expanse and a favourite among people of all age groups.

The historic ground would be closed for commercial use from August 1 to make way for preparations for hosting the Independence Day function. The diktat would apply to morning walkers from August 12.

The decision was taken in a meeting, headed by Patna divisional commissioner N. Vijaylakshmi, on Saturday evening. The state has recently formulated a comprehensive guideline for use of Gandhi Maidan and approved the setting up of a separate society headed by the Patna divisional commissioner.

Morning walkers expressed disappointment over the restriction on entering the ground from August 12 to 15. “I think the state government should at least allow morning walkers, especially old citizens, into the ground. It is only place where we can go for morning walk. If I miss my walk, my day seems incomplete. We old citizens would not hinder the district administration’s work,” said Mukesh Sharma, a resident of SP Verma Road.

Patna district magistrate (DM) N. Saravana Kumar, who was present in the meeting, said: “It was decided during the meeting that Gandhi Maidan would not be allotted for any commercial or private functions between August 1 and 15 in view of the Independence Day preparations. Even morning walkers would not be allowed for the last three days.”

Asked about the reason of restricting people from entering the ground, the DM said: “Preparations for the Independence Day function are disturbed by youths playing on the ground and a lot of activities.”

Gandhi Maidan, the main venue for the state function on Independence Day shuts five to seven days in advance every year. However, the district administration does not want to take chances this time. On several occasions, the ground got inundated by rain water, which posed a major challenge for the district administration.

Two years ago, the long stretch, where parade takes place and the area through which tableaux pass through went under knee-deep water. Around 3 feet water accumulated at the place, where the chief minister was supposed to hoist the flag.

“We do not want to take chances at the eleventh hour. We want the ground fully prepared before the main function, so these steps have been taken. It becomes very difficult once the ground gets slushy,” said a senior official present in the meeting. Apart from the DM, other senior officers present in the two-hour-long meeting were superintendent of police (SP) (traffic) Rajiv Mishra and SP (city) Ashish Bharti.

Traffic diversion on several routes and removal of encroachments near the Maidan were also discussed. The offici al added: “There would be more meetings before Independence Day to sort out details.”