Perhaps, the amenity that HAL employees enjoy most, as it is not easily available elsewhere, is the large playground

It is not just the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) airport that stands as legacy of the days when the eponymous public sector defined this corner of the city. A host of facilities bearing the HAL name dot the area around old Airport Road.

Located just off the main road, behind the Vimanapura post office, the vibrant HAL market occupies a spacious ground, with vendors sitting in shops arranged in a neat semicircle.

The market was started way back in the 1960s when the Union government bought Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. “Although the prices of the fruits and vegetables might be lower at supermarkets, I’d prefer buying them fresh from these vendors,” says Anupam Anand, a regular buyer.

“During weekdays, they sell at cheaper rates than weekends,” says Shantha Velayudhan, a resident of Indiranagar. She prefers buying her vegetables from here as there is greater variety of produce on sale, including rare fruits and native vegetables. “I find all my requirements met with much ease.”

Fair game

Perhaps, the amenity that HAL employees enjoy most is the large playground. The HAL grounds also houses a sports club, which is mostly used during the morning for practice. “Employees have formed various teams for kabaddi, football, basketball, hockey and cricket. They visit the playground between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. after which they go on to their respective jobs,” says sports association deputy secretary Narsimha Murthy.

“I have been playing cricket in the first division here for the past 30 years. I’m actually a sportsman before I’m an employee of HAL. I haven’t missed a single day of practice and come here every day,” says B.K. Kumar, chief supervisor, aircraft division.

The encouragement for sports is very positive at the institute, he says. Players are given sufficient rest periods between practice sessions. “Unlike other industries, they are exempted from working on the day they might have rigorous games or tournaments,” he says.

Want for the public

There is also a HAL wedding hall in the area, which remains booked all year round, not only for weddings but also for cultural programmes conducted by schools and even spiritual programmes.

It is also let out to relatives of employees on request.

However, the playground and many facilities, just like the airport itself, are exclusively for the use of HAL and its employees.

The area, which used to be under the City Municipal Council of Krishnarajapuram, came under the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike only in 2007.

Vinayaknagar Residents’ Welfare Association secretary Ravindranathan laments the lack of public recreational spaces in the area. “We would like to have a public park, a playground and a library, for this is now a high density residential area,” he says.

Without those amenities, as a resident put it, the area just doesn’t feel like home.

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