Six years after civic authorities promised a sports complex at Elango Nagar in Anna Nagar, residents continue to wait.
All there is on the 5.4 acres earmarked for the purpose is a walkers’ path. Residents have been fighting for a playground or sports complex in the area for nearly two decades now.
If developed, it would be one of the few facilities in the city with both outdoor and indoor sporting facilities under one roof. It would cater to residents in and around Anna Nagar western extension and in neighbouring areas such as Padi, Mogappair, Nolambur and Korattur.
According to residents, the vacant space was earmarked as a playground when the Tamil Nadu Housing Board developed the locality in the 80s. Its maintenance was handed over to Ambattur municipality which considered leasing out the land for commercial purposes. It later dropped the plan following stiff protests.
In 2006, the erstwhile municipality decided to develop a full-fledged sports complex there with the assistance of Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT).
Nearly Rs. 1.5 crore was spent towards provision of basic facilities such as a compound wall, walkers’ path, water supply and toilets. Today, the plot is a picture of neglect with litter strewn all over.
Owing to lack of choice however, hundreds of fitness conscious residents use the facility every day. Nandhini Krishnaswamy, a resident of Officers’ Colony, said, “I use the half-km-long walkers’ path regularly. I’d rather use the littered playground that walk on the crowded roads.”
Several school children bring their own sports kits to the playground as there is no other facility nearby.
K. Veerabhadran, a sports enthusiast, said many aspiring sportspersons were forced to travel to ICF and other areas and spend up to Rs. 1,000 a month to train. A full-fledged complex for indoor and outdoor games would help many youngsters in the area.
Residents said after the merger with the Chennai Corporation, there had been little progress on the project. Owing to neglect, the area has become a haven for anti-social elements, a resident said.
The toilet block has been damaged and several lamps and tree guards have been stolen. “We suggested that the residents welfare association could share the cost of the project under ‘Namakku Name Thittam,” said M.S. Dhas, secretary of Anna Nagar Western Extension Residents’ Welfare Association.
When contacted, elected representatives and officials of the civic body said a proposal to develop the sports complex was under consideration.