Saket resident Rachit Sethi, 10, has been forced into gaming. He would rather play cricket with friends in a park. But the lack of proper space to play has forced him to stay at home. Like Sethi, hundreds of children in Malviya Nagar, Saket and the adjoining areas of Sarvapriya Vihar and Sheikh Sarai are forced to stay indoors. Many force their parents to cough up huge sums of money to subscribe to a club's membership.
And it's not that the area has no parks. There are 70 of them, but they have turned into 'ornamental parks' by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC). Many others are locked.These ornamental parks look good and are used by residents to sit and relax or to exercise and walk. But playing is prohibited. "The only option is to send my son to Begumpura Park, which is far. We can't afford sports clubs. So our son plays only in school," said Rohan Bagga, a resident of Malviya Nagar. Though most residents want designated parks for children, no one wants them in front of their homes.
And if not ornamental, the parks are often ill-maintained and have become havens for drug-peddlers and anti-social elements. Bigger parks largely face this problem and residents say there have been several instances of goons from neighbourhood areas getting into scuffles with the colony's children.
The Capital's parks either belong to the three municipal corporations or the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). The municipal corporations' list of 14,000 does not have a single playground. Many of the parks are ornamental. The rest are 'ordinary', are either too small or used for social functions. The DDA also maintains hundreds of parks and green areas but has only 26 playgrounds.
While senior citizens object to children playing in parks, residents want the existing parks to be divided so that half the park is used for walking purposes and the other half for playing.
Residents have requested RWAs and ward councillors to employ security guards in parks.
According to RWAs, CFL lighting can be used to light up parks to reduce the expenses.
Tiling in some walkways in ornamental parks is uneven. Gaps need to be filled up to avoid an accident.
Children have complained that the swings in some parks in Malviya Nagar need to be repaired. The swings’ material is flimsy and needs reinforcement.
Residents want at least one park in the areas to be earmarked for slightly older children for playing football or cricket.