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The death of a playground

The triangular park in Masjid Moth where ten-year-old Yuvraj Vohra plays cricket with his friends is only slightly bigger than the flat he lives in, reports Sidhartha Roy.

delhi Updated: Jan 05, 2010 23:42 IST
Sidhartha Roy

The triangular park in Masjid Moth where ten-year-old Yuvraj Vohra plays cricket with his friends is only slightly bigger than the flat he lives in.

Children his age also have to share the space with the toddlers of the colony who come to the park to play on the swings.

But it is still better than playing on the road or being inside the house all the time.

The elderly of this south Delhi colony — built by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) — go for walks on the Outer Ring Road.

But life was not always like this for the residents of Masjid Moth.

The colony had a playground spread over 6 acres next to the colony. It was handed over to the Delhi Transco Ltd. by the authority to build a power sub-station.

The residents had opposed the move, but they lost the court case.

Masjid Moth is one example of how Delhi is losing its open spaces.

Spaces once available to children as playgrounds are being turned into ornamental parks, parking lots, memorials, power sub stations and other more important utilities for the city.

The loss has changed the Masjid Moth residents’ lifestyle.

Vijay Kalra (43), a computer engineer and resident of the colony, has not been keeping well and has been advised to take regular walks. “The only space left for walks is the footpath along the Outer Ring Road,” he said. “Instead of fresh air, I end up inhaling fumes from cars and motorcycles.”

Yuvraj Vohra's father Rajiv Vohra (44) was concerned that the lack of a playground would spoil his son.

“I grew up playing hockey and football in that ground, but our children can’t,” said Vohra. His biggest concern now is that the children should not be forced to stay home and play on their computers because of this.

“There is at least one big park in every DDA colony and this ground was supposed to become a mini sports complex,” said Ranju Minhas of the Masjid Moth residents’ welfare association.

Minhas said there was a big ground in Kalkaji for the children to play in, but that has become an ornamental park now. “What is point of organising the Commonwealth Games in Delhi if our children don’t have playgrounds?”

There are other colonies in the city that feel the lack of a playground.

“A decade ago, when my children were young, there was ample space in New Rajinder Nagar to play. Now, all the 20-odd parks in the area have turned into ornamental parks were playing is not allowed,” said Usha Walia, a housewife. “They also locked for most of the time.”

Residents use whatever little space there is now to park their cars. Children no longer play there as they might hit the cars.

Raman Lamba, a well-known cricketer, was a resident of this area and grew up playing cricket here.

“I do not think we would produce sportsmen like him anymore,” said Walia.