Maintenance of small parks, some of them with play equipment for children, in many residential localities across the city seem to have taken a backseat with the Chennai Corporation turning its attention to developing large parks.
There are about 100 small parks and 50 small play areas for children. Residents of areas including Egmore, Triplicane, Anna Nagar, Velachery and Virugambakkam have complained that play equipment such as slides, swings and merry-go-rounds are in damaged condition or rusted.
Govind, a resident of Triplicane, said that the Balasubramanianar Park on Chella Pillayar Koil Street in Royapettah was in a bad state. “There is no grass or are no plants. The place looks shabby and is used as a parking lot by small traders,” he said.
A small park adjoining a balwadi on Pantheon Road near the Police Commissioner’s office in Egmore is in a pathetic condition, said Balachandran, a local resident. “It is on a main thoroughfare. Though the Chennai Corporation showed interest in creating a new park opposite the CMDA, it has not maintained this one, which would otherwise be used by children of the locality,” he added.
Sridevi Krishnan of Virugambakkam said the ground in a children’s play area on Chitirai Street had a very uneven surface. “Bushes grow near the compound and there are plastic bags all over the place. The ground is rarely cleaned. The play things are rusty and could prove dangerous to children,” she said.
Resident of Anna Nagar C.L. Nithyanandam said that the Corporation playground at H Block 15th Street was crying for attention. “Though at times children play cricket here the place is full of thorny bushes, the dust bins are broken, and people use parts of the park for as a toilet.” The Corporation could develop this ground and provide better facilities, he added.
Secretary of the Federation of Velachery Welfare Associations S.Kumararaja said that VGP Selva Nagar had five OSR (Open Space Reservation) lands designated as play areas and parks. But other than the compound walls and name boards put up by the Corporation, there is no other sign of the places being developed as play areas/parks.
Elsewhere in Velachery there are parks without play things and those where the equipment require a coat of paint. The civic body just paints the play equipment when they are installed. When we ask officials, they tell us that they have no funds for maintenance.”
Civic body officials said that maintenance of bigger parks was given to contractors. “We have set targets for maintenance and if they do not meet them, we initiate action against the contractors,” an official said. However with regard to the smaller parks, on areas of less than a ground, maintenance was an issue. “Water for the plants is a major problem. In bigger parks there are sumps or borewells,” the official said. “We are trying to create more play areas for children in smaller parks. We will take steps to change the play equipment that is rusty,” he said.