Residents of Rajarajeshwarinagar (RR Nagar) held a protest on Sunday to oppose the upcoming construction of a school on Kempe Gowda playground in BEML Layout.
The State Government is set to build a school on the playground, spanning 1.6 acres, which the locals say is the only space available for people of all ages for sports activities in the area. Around 100 people use the ground on a daily basis irrespective of their age, they said.
The playground was inaugurated by former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa in December 2006. On November 6, local MLA and horticulture minister N Munirathna, laid the foundation stone for the construction of a government model school at Kempe Gowda playground in BEML Layout, leaving the residents unhappy.
Ravindra D, a resident of RR Nagar for the past three decades said, “We are requesting the government to build the school in any of the vacant Civic Amenities (CA) sites available in 155 acres of the residential layout, because this is the only functional playground. There is a government school within 500 metres distance and three more schools in around 2 km radius.”
Vishal R Suresh, another resident, said, according to BDA norms, the playground does not come under the CA site category and BDA clearly mentions a playground located at the site. “Building a school here is illegal. There is already a government school here till Class 8. They could have improved the existing school instead of building a new school on this playground in the name of development,” he added.
Gandaksh, a 12-year-old, said, “During Covid, we were isolated at home. Now, we have started playing cricket on the ground. If they build a school here, we will be left with no place to play.”
Joseph Hoovar, a resident, said students of at least 10 schools use the playground for sports activities and annual day celebrations. “People use the ground to play cricket and other games while the elderly come for a walk,” he said.
Vijay Kumar, chief engineer of RR Nagar, along with Mallikarjun, Deputy Commissioner of BBMP, RR Nagar, visited the spot and assured the protesting residents that they would verify the public records and the CDP to give a clear picture.
Savitha S Rao, a protestor, called it an act of negligence that the authorities had taken steps to build a school without seeing the plan and CDP. The residents had started an online petition on Change.org, which has received more than 1,300 signatures so far.
“We have also written letters to the authorities concerned. We are not opposing the construction of the school, we are opposing the construction of the school on this playground,” she added.
MLA Munirathna could not be reached for a comment.