The village of Balepuni is finally getting a playground after 22 years of effort by the people of the village. It will be inaugurated on October 14 at an event organised by the Anand Yuvak Mandal, said Padmanath, a resident of the village.

“Creating support for the project took so long,” said another resident. It has been made possible entirely due to the efforts of the Yuvak Mandal, which spent 22 years from the beginning to get the sports area. The village people wanted to tell others that such public property can come up if people take the initiative, he said.

The multipurpose field is open for anybody from anywhere. The space can be used for sports, cultural activities, and as a park where people across all age groups can visit. If it is used for private functions, the people who use it will have to pay.

In the first phase of the work done, the hilly land was levelled and the stream flowing through the area was made to flow underground with Rs. 12.1 lakh. Of the Rs. 12.1 lakh that was spent on the area, Rs. 50,000 came from donations from the people, said a release.

The area was first used as a playground in 1974 when some boys started playing cricket and festivals began to be celebrated there. In 1985, the Anand Yuva Mandal, consisting of the youth of the village, was registered under the Department of Youth Services. In 1990, it began making representations to the government. In 1993, an area of 2.55 acres of land was reserved as a playground.

In 1997, the Mandal succeeded in making the playground the property of the same department. In 2006, it started mobilising the support of elected representatives. The Mandal worked with the cooperation of the people’s representatives and the guidance of the village people, a Mandala representative said.

Going forward, Rs. 30 lakh was required to build retaining walls on three sides and a wall that will serve as a gallery on the northern side of the field. A gate, a store room, an open well, and lavatories would be built and trees planted.

The village has 50,000 people and 1,500 houses and most of the people were daily wage earners.

An anganwadi on the playground (at one of its corners) would be shifted to another place. The process had already begun, he said.

Abdul Naseer, the gram panchayat member, said that rural areas did not have such large playgrounds.

N. Yogish Bhat, MLA and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, will dedicate the field to the village in a function to be presided over by Nalin Kumar Kateel, MP.

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