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Rajaji Children’s Park decries poor amenities, visitors demand better upkeep

January 21, 2023 10:51 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 09:54 am IST - MADURAI

A heap of garbage found at Rajaji Children’s Park in  Madurai.

A heap of garbage found at Rajaji Children’s Park in Madurai. | Photo Credit: G. MOORTHY

A walk into the Rajaji Children’s park near Gandhi Memorial Museum is not all pleasant, complain its users, though the park is one of the few recreational spots in the city that hosts steady inflow of visitors week after week.

Families, mostly with toddlers and children, who hope to have a leisure time at the play area amidst a thick green cover are often disappointed. “Most slides are rusty and some have screws poking out. How can it be safe for children? If they charge ₹20 as entry ticket, shouldn’t the authorities make the play area completely safe for kids?,” charged M. Iyyappan of S. Puliankulam, a father of two children.

The park is open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. throughout the week attracting 500 people on an average on weekdays while around 2,000 people visit over the weekends, according to workers at the park.

He was not alone, as M. Sivahasini of New Jail Road called for more swings to be installed in the park. “There are broken see-saws and a few structures that might have once been play things, but not anymore,” she said. Meanwhile, a teacher of a city school who had escorted their students to a picnic at the park said that amusement games were highly priced. “At least they can have a concession rate for school students,” she added.

Though the park was clean in most places, a huge stretch of accumulated garbage awaits visitors just near the giant wheel, one of the most sought-after games at the park. Many plastic trash cans remain broken and even a few flower pots filled with weeds were used as bins instead. A few statues, including a peacock, stand defaced and one has to be careful at many places as wire mesh fence stands poking out along the walkway.

Pointing out at the lack of aesthetics at the park, A. Manimegalai of Pandikoil, who came with her two sons, called for using the green space wisely. “Such a lung space at the heart of the city is rare. Only if the authorities put efforts to plant lush varieties of plants, especially along the compound wall where all the broken branches and dried leaves are dumped, will the park look more welcoming. Putting up name boards on trees would be beneficial to the children visiting,” she said as she was finding a bench to sit on that did not have a broken surface which were very few unfortunately.

Speaking of which, the ‘on site composting yard’ on the park’s premises lies lifeless with just heaps of plastic covers, bottles, bags, torn tickets, dried leaves inside the rectangle pits. Standing there, one cannot miss the stench coming out of the only toilet facility in the park. Leaky pipes, dirty walls scream of the unhygienic condition, which were flagged by both men and women who paid a visit to the park over the weekends.

Among the many complaints, J. Angayarkanni of Ellis Nagar expressed her displeasure over how a few young, “espacially college-goers,” behave in public so as to make visitors frown. “It is not about moral policing but when there are children visiting the park, the atmosphere is not so kid-friendly,” she said.

While the drinking water pipes had leaky taps, the defunct water fountain wore a barren look collecting dried leaves in all shades of brown. “The pool where fish were let in does not seem very clean. It is very concerning to the the school of fishes swimming in the greenish water,” said N. Jamuna, a visitor.

According to a corporation official in the revenue department, the park was let out on lease to a private contractor about a year ago. “In case of complaints on the maintenance of the park keeps piling up, necessary actions would be taken to rectify them,” added the official.

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