Despite being one of the biggest cities of the state, Ludhiana has hardly any open spaces where children can play without restrictions. Children have to think twice before entering parks anywhere in the city, as different welfare associations have restricted games at the parks.
Warning boards are installed outside several parks displaying instructions that nobody can play games there, forcing children to avoid playing outdoors. Some of these boards even state that the directions have been issued by the municipal corporation commissioner. However, the latter refused to have issued such directions.
Following HT's report “Children barred from playing at Sant Nagar public park” on January 21, regarding children not being allowed to play in a public park near SCD Government College, residents from several areas came forward demanding permission to let children play games which could not harm anyone, as the city lacked sports infrastructure.
A public park in Gurdev Nagar is another example where a board has been hung by some persons giving warning against playing games there. Children are also not being allowed to play games in some parks in Agar Nagar and BRS Nagar.
“To discourage sedentary lifestyle, children should be motivated towards playing outdoor games. However, lack of playgrounds in the city has left children with no option but to stay indoors and remain glued to their computers. Children should be allowed to play games that cannot hurt anyone at the parks,” Lokesh Jain, a resident of Gurdev Nagar, said.
A resident of Agar Nagar, requesting anonymity, said, “Children have been stopped from playing in an area park after some statues were installed there. We don't oppose installation of statues in the park, but stopping children from playing, assuming they would damage the statues, is unacceptable. The resident welfare bodies should allow children to play safe games like badminton and volleyball that don't harm anybody or the park.”
When contacted, MC commissioner Rahul Tewari said, “We have not issued any instructions to stop children from playing in the parks. However, sports activities should be conducted in playgrounds only.”
When told that playgrounds are not available in all areas, he said, “Then children should play those games which don't harm the plants or disturb people in the park.”
In 2011, the Delhi high court in a significant ruling had said that no one can prohibit children from using a park as a playground.