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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Why open-air gyms topped Delhi MPs’ list of development projects

One reason open gyms are one of the top projects sanctioned by MPs is that the MPLAD fund can’t be used in JJ clusters, slums and unauthorised colonies

delhi Updated: Feb 08, 2019 12:15 IST
Ashish Mishra and Risha Chitlangia
Ashish Mishra and Risha Chitlangia
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
People exercise at an open-air gym at Ashoka Park, New Friends Colony, in New Delhi, on Thursday, February 7, 2019.
People exercise at an open-air gym at Ashoka Park, New Friends Colony, in New Delhi, on Thursday, February 7, 2019. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo )
         

Open gyms were among the favourite public development projects of Delhi MPs and their constituents, suggest municipal records. There are approximately 1,700 open-air gyms in city parks and 150 more, developed with MP local area development funds, will be inaugurated across the city in the coming months before the model code of conduct for Lok Sabha polls kicks in.

Municipal records suggest, all MPs, including Union minister and Chandni Chowk BJP MP Harsh Vardhan, south Delhi BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri, North East Delhi BJP MP Manoj Tiwari, east Delhi BJP MP Maheish Girri and Rajya Sabha MPs, have sanctioned more than 800 open gyms from their funds.

They have also spent on social infrastructure and other facilities such as community centres, medical facilities, bus shelters, village development in their constituencies.

Lok Sabha polls may be held in April -May and once the model code is enforced, the MPs will not be able to announce or inaugurate new projects from the funds given to them by the Centre for developing their constituencies.

On Thursday, North West Delhi MP Udit Raj inaugurated two such gyms in Narela and Bhalswa Dairy. Raj said he had sanctioned Rs 10-11 crore for gyms in parks from his Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund. Each MP is entitled to Rs 25 crore in the scheme.

Similarly, New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi recently inaugurated seven open gyms in Ramesh Nagar. “New Delhi is an urbanised constituency and we have to cater to the demand of the people,” she said. “We are looking for new ideas through which we can improve the quality of life of people. Open gyms are used by people of all age groups, especially the elderly and women. I have sanctioned several through my MPLADS fund.”

Adesh Gupta, mayor of North Delhi Municipal Corporation said, “A majority of such gyms have been sanctioned under the MPLAD fund. It is one of the main development projects sanctioned under the MPLAD fund.”

West Delhi BJP MP Parvesh Verma said he spent close to Rs 9 crore out of his MPLADS just on gyms. “There is a huge demand from public for open gyms. I’m going to inaugurate 90 open gyms in the next few days.”

Till a few years ago, high-mast lights used to be the top priority of MPs, MLAs and councillors.

KS Mehra, former commissioner of the erstwhile Municipal Corporation, said, “There was a lot of demand for high mast lights then. But everything reaches a saturation level… Now open gyms are being installed. It is a very good initiative and people are benefiting from it.”

Vasant Kunj resident Amit Agrawal said it was a good move but authorities should ensure multiple gyms are not installed in all parks in an area. “In pocket B and C of Vasant Kunj sector-A, there are five parks and each has a gym. It implies that in an area of 1.5 square kilometre, there are five gyms and most remain under utilised. The facilities should be judiciously planned ,” he said.

Another reason open gyms are one of the top projects sanctioned by MPs is that the MPLAD fund can’t be used in JJ clusters, slums and unauthorised colonies. “We cannot use the fund in any redevelopment work or in slums/ unauthorised colonies. We can only sanction new projects. This (open gym) is one facility, which can be accessed by all and doesn’t cost much,” said Udit Raj.

First Published: Feb 08, 2019 12:14 IST