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Child-friendly infrastructure in cities will benefit everyone

Child-friendly infrastructure such as green spaces, play areas, day-care centres and children’s homes required for providing a safe environment for children to grow have been missing from urban planning so far.

delhi Updated: Mar 30, 2019 11:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
child friendly infrastructure,urban planning,WRI India
Children enjoy rides at Children's Park, India Gate, New Delhi.(Hindustan Times)

A city designed for children would prove to be friendly for all, be it the women or senior citizens. At a time when Delhi’s new master plan is being prepared, designing a child-friendly city must be the focus of government agencies, experts said.

Child-friendly infrastructure such as green spaces, play areas, day-care centres and children’s homes required for providing a safe environment for children to grow have been missing from urban planning so far. “Creating a child-friendly city means it allows children the freedom to use public infrastructure independently. Be it going to school or recreation spaces, it is crucial that a city has the basic infrastructure available such as cycle tracks, safe zones and proper roads for kids to move around without any fear,” said Amit Bhatt, director, integrated transport, WRI-India.

While the Master Plan of Delhi-2041, a vision document for future development of the city is in the works, planners must ensure these aspects for child-friendly infrastructure are incorporated and implemented on ground, said experts during a panel discussion on ‘creating child-friendly cities’, organised in the capital on Friday.

Shailaja Tetalia, associate professor, Indian Institute for Public Health, said creating safe cities for children primarily means providing them freedom of mobility.

“The lack of space in metro cities such as Delhi does not allow children to ride a bicycle on the road or walk to school without an adult’s supervision. This has to change. In a survey we had conducted on children and road safety, it was found that cyclists and pedestrians had 12-13 times more the risk of getting hit than those taking the school bus,” she said.

Manish Thakre from Save the Children said the solution to providing a safe and free environment for children lies in an integrated approach where all departments in the government come together to provide these facilities.

A study conducted by the WRI in Rohtak – Safe Commute for School Children --- revealed that 68% of trips made by students are for travelling less than 2 km. Only 21% use bicycles or walk for commuting to school, the study said.

The National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), which is working on the new master plan, is gathering baseline information and is in talks with the Delhi government and agencies for developing Delhi as a child-friendly city.

The MPD-2041 will come into force when Delhi’s current Master Plan expires in 2021. So far child care institutions in the city were not a major part of planning at this level.

First Published: Mar 30, 2019 11:31 IST