Chennai

Residents fight to retain their playground

A view of the upcoming Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board tenements near Basin Bridge.

A view of the upcoming Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board tenements near Basin Bridge.   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Sports keeps our children away from drugs, govt. should spare the play area, says resident

At a time when many playgrounds have made way for buildings, residents of Kesava Pillai Park (K.P. Park) in Pulianthope are protesting against the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) for zeroing in on a playground in their locality to construct tenements.

Over 1,500 families used to reside in 35 blocks at the K.P. Park TNSCB tenements. In 2008, the board began demolishing the blocks after they were found to be in a dilapidated condition, and started constructing new ones.

In the first phase, TNSCB demolished four buildings at a time and the residents shifted to huts in the adjacent playground on Elephant Gate street. “After finishing 14 such blocks, the TNSCB informed us that they will be demolishing the remaining 21 blocks in one go. Many residents shifted to rented houses, but a few hundred families shifted to makeshift houses on the ground,” said a resident of K.P. Park.

Far from complete

Work on the 21 blocks, which are nine-storeyed, is far from complete. Yet TNSCB has reportedly asked residents to vacate the playground.

“Now they are constructing K.P. Park phase two which is expected to have over 1,000 houses. We did not know about this and we fear they will take away the playground,” said Mythili (name changed), another resident.

“It is sports that is keeping our children away from drugs. So, the government should spare the play area. We cannot use the adjacent Sivarajapuram ground as the youngsters there do not allow our children to play,” added another woman resident.

However, TNSCB officials said that the Chennai Corporation had transferred the ground to them a few years ago. “We have increased the size of every house to nearly 400 sq ft and so we need more space. Hence, we have to take up the ground to construct buildings,” said an official.

K.S. Ravichandran, Egmore constituency MLA, said TNSCB officials had assured him that the houses would be handed over to residents in May. He said that a petition had been handed over to TNSCB to save the ground. “Till then, they can stay in makeshift houses that have been constructed inside the construction site,” he added.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 7:42:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/residents-fight-to-retain-their-playground/article26156893.ece

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