Tired of poor security, residents of East of Kailash in South Delhi have formed a 20-member team to guard the 200-acre Astha Kunj Park and the areas surrounding it. At least two robbery and chainsnatching incidents are reported daily in and around the DDA park that leads to the residential colony, residents say. Vijay Jatyan, who is in charge of the team, said a man’s body was found near the park a couple of months ago.
“The park has been a breeding ground for criminals. Since the police could not do much over the years, we charted out a daily schedule to deploy our men armed with canes. From 7am to 10 pm, three to four elderly residents guard the area in shifts,” he said.
Lack of proper lighting and security guards turned the areas meant for fun and recreation into crime dens. Bodies were found in another D DA park. In September, a decomposed and chopped body of a man in his twenties was found in Jahanpanah City Forest, one of the two biggest recreational zones for south Delhi residents. Last week too, a body was found. “From gambling to consuming drugs, at sunset this place becomes a home for criminals,” said Friends of Jahanpanah City Forest president SM Agrawal. Another major recreational spot in south Delhi, Sanjay Van in Vasant Kunj, has similar issues.
“The walls are broken at places, giving easy passage to intruders and criminal elements. The absence of regular security staff facilitates unhindered entry of bikers, miscreants and drug addicts,” said Sachin Lohia, a visitor. Vinod Rawat, founder of Working with Nature, has been requesting DDA to enhance the park’s security. The voluntary group assists DDA in maintaining the 783-acre Sanjay Van.
DDA’s Lala Lajpat Rai Park in southeast Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar suffers the same fate. “Weeds have grown around the swings and the park has become a site for consuming alcohol and drugs at night,” said Lajpat Nagar United Society president Pawan Arora.
The corporation parks don’t fare better on security either. At places, miscreants switch off the lights to escape police patrolling. “It is a routine affair in Krishna Nagar central park where miscreants cut the wires so that they can play cards or drink in the park,” said East Delhi’s RWA Joint Front Federation president BS Vohra. The parks fail on maintenance as well. Broken swings and slides and squalor are a common feature.
The Lala Lajpat Rai Park stands as a symbol of wasted community resource. With broken swings and a dirty ground, the DDA park is a fouracre mass of negligence. Once planned as a ‘fun zone’ with a yoga centre, a cricket pitch and a food plaza, the area is now frequented by drunkards.
Over 80% of the work was complete and the park was scheduled to be inaugurated on August 15, 2008. But even before the park was opened, authorities allegedly started dumping construction waste from Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The project was then stalled. The corporation’s parks in east Delhi’s Vishwakarma Na gar, Azadnagar and those in Anand Vihar are equally bad. “Swings were installed in these parks less than four years ago. All of them are in poor condition,” said Vohra.