After 10 years of fighting a losing battle to acquire a playground for its students, the Holy Cross School, Juhu, has sought chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s help. On March 20, the school wrote to the CM, requesting him to allow their students to play on an open ground adjacent to the school.
“We hope the CM helps us turn this open plot, which has been encroached upon, into a playground. We want to rent it so that students can use it during the day and it will be open to public in the evenings,” said school principal Father Edmund Mascarenhas.
Deprived of a playground on school premises, students are forced to play on the Juhu beach, which is unsafe, especially during high tide. For the last 10 years, the school has been trying to acquire the 90,912 sq ft plot adjacent to it.
In 2000, the collectorate had written to the school asking them if they required the land for the playground, to which it replied in the affirmative. But despite regular follow ups, the school is yet to receive any response from the collector’s office.
The absence of a playground has robbed the 935 students of a chance to participate in inter-school outdoor sports tournaments for at least three years now. This year, the school was forced to conduct elementary rounds of its annual sports at Juhu beach since the playgrounds of neighbouring schools were booked for weddings and parties.
Suburban collector Sanjay Deshmukh said he was unaware of the issue. “If the land is owned by the collector, we can give a proposal to the revenue department asking for the land to be given to the school,” he said.
The school is also irked by the construction of a joggers’ park in the vicinity. “What is the point of building such a park in the neighbourhood when our students don’t have a place to play,” said Larson Fernandes, a local activist and president of Juhu Angels, an NGO fighting for open spaces.