The grim reality of Delhi’s green spaces


‘There are problems with the maintenance of our parks’

Five-year-old Reena’s fate could be repeated with children across the Capital, with many public parks posing a risk through their rusted swings, faulty gates and other hazards.

Reena was on the swings at a New Moti Nagar park on Thursday when a part of the metallic frame fell, killing the child. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation, which maintains the park, suspended five officials and instituted an inquiry on Friday.

North Corporation Commissioner Pravin Kumar Gupta admitted on Saturday that “there are problems” with the maintenance of the civic body’s 5,500 parks.

“We have noticed some issues. We are doing a survey of all parks and schools to see the condition of the swings, gates and grills. If any safety hazards are found, they will be removed,” said Mr. Gupta.

Officials said the park where the incident occurred was relatively well maintained as it was near the house of area councillor Surinder Kaur. The playing apparatus had even undergone repair in February this year. However, officials said it appears the frame was not strong enough.

Parks across Delhi have similar stories to tell. From lack of cleanliness at a Delhi Development Authority park in Masjid Moth to dangerous swings at the East Delhi Municipal Corporation’s park in Mayur Vihar, green spaces have become rather grim.

The EDMC-maintained park next to Garud Apartments in Mayur Vihar has been overrun by weeds, the swings have a layer of rust and piles of dead leaves all over.

A security guard at the apartments said children preferred to play on the streets rather than the messy park. The park was deserted when The Hindu visited on Saturday.

EDMC spokesperson Y.S. Mann said the civic body had chalked up a phased plan to improve such parks. “We have identified 106 parks for improvement for next year. Some of these parks have been handed over to us by the DDA recently so we are working on them,” said the spokesperson.

As per the Delhi Government’s own Park Survey-2014, many of the parks are in a poor condition. Delhi Parks and Garden Society CEO Dr. S.D. Singh said in the five years since the annual survey was started, this year has seen the best result.

“The condition of parks is improving. This year, a majority of the parks fell into the ‘satisfactory’ category,” said Dr. Singh.

He added that the parks maintained by RWAs or with the help of residents were better off than those left just to the agencies. According to the survey, he said parks in South Delhi were the best, followed by North and East.

‘Lack of resources, staff to be blamed’

The lack of resources, including gardeners and funds, for maintaining and overhauling facilities are to be blamed for the poor condition of many parks, municipal officials said on Saturday.

This admission comes in the wake of a five-year-old child dying after falling from a swing at a municipal park in New Moti Nagar. The park is maintained by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, which has 16 children’s parks in its jurisdiction.

North Corporation Commissioner Pravin Kumar Gupta said there was a shortage of staff in the Horticulture Department. “We are short of 1,400 gardeners. There are many swings and gates that have become old, but we don’t have the funds to replace them all at once,” said Mr. Gupta. However, he added that the civic body would start removing the swings and gates that have become dangerous.

The South Delhi Municipal Corporation has also started surveying its parks for possible hazards. SDMC Standing Committee chairperson Subhash Arya said on Saturday that officials had been ordered 15 days ago to start repair work of swings.

“In the winter, children visit parks less frequently and with school exams going on, we thought we should finish all maintenance work before vacations,” said Mr. Arya.

He added that the SDMC has about 700 parks, which have swings and slides for children. “There are many broken chains and seats on the swings that are being replaced,” said Mr. Arya.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 3:58:20 AM |

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