Children's play area squeezed to a small patch

Even as the school's notice board extols the virtues of cleanliness, the state of the Government Urdu Higher Primary School campus in Kalasipalya presents a completely different picture. Almost the entire school playground is used as a collection point by scrap dealers.

For over five years now, the schoolteachers here have been trying to recover the playground from scrap dealers in vain. The Department of Primary Education issued notices to the scrap dealers thrice, asking them to vacate the school premises, but to no avail.

Hazardous debris

The playground is covered almost entirely by the heaps of scrap dangerous to anyone, let alone children. This includes bottle shards and metal pieces. One part of the ground is used to repair torn tarpaulins. Except for a small patch in front of the headmistress' room, the other parts have all been overrun by the encroachers.

Schoolteachers, who didn't want to be named, told The Hindu with the scrap dumped on the playground, the 52 children here have no place to play. “There is no gate and the school lacks security. We cannot do anything. The land belongs to the department and we pay taxes to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP),” they said.

Strict supervision

The young children are allowed to play kabaddi and kho-kho only in front of the headmistress' room. “We ensure that they don't go beyond that patch, as it is hazardous what with heaps of bottles and metal pieces lying around. We only hope that the land is recovered from the illegal occupants and the playground is restored to us,” a despairing teacher said.

Though the Government has, in the past, claimed to be serious about ensuring that playgrounds are protected, it has failed to do so in this case. Deputy Director of Public Instruction (South) C. Nagarajan, whose office is just behind the school, said he was aware of the issue and had been coordinating with the BBMP to evict the scrap dealers.

Tax paid

“The playground comes under three survey numbers. As per our records, the land belongs to us and we have paid all the tax due to the civic body. Besides scrap dealers, a gym is also on the campus,” he said.

He said that the department had issued notices thrice; the last in January 2011. The department is not empowered to evict the scrap dealers and had thus written to the BBMP seeking help.

‘I was threatened'

Local councillor P. Dhanraj said that Minister for Primary Education Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri was duty-bound to visit the school to see the appalling conditions for himself. Claiming that the scrap dealers had threatened him when he asked them to vacate the school premises, he said: “The BBMP has no role to play in evicting the scrap dealers. The Government should seek police protection and evict them.”