Kids want to play, adults want peace. What's the way out when there are no parks or playgrounds?

Urban concrete jungles These kids went to the police to demand their right to play
news Monday, September 07, 2015 - 18:22

Frustrated at not being allowed to play in their own apartment building, a group of five children went to the police demanding that their right to play outdoor games is not infringed upon.

Such a situation is not surprising given that a concrete jungle has replaced not just Bengaluru’s lakes and tanks, but has also left precious little public space for children to let loose or for adults to relax. The same story repeats in every city, not just Bengaluru.

Yash Aradhya and his neighbours were told off by one of the residents for playing cricket on the on the terrace of their apartment complex in the Chikkalasandra area of the city. According to Yash’s father Sujith, the woman took away the children’s wickets and threw away the ball into another building.

Yash said that they decided to go to the police station after his father gave him a news item on child rights. Asked what child rights meant to him, pat came the reply: “We want to play outdoor games.”

Sujith, who took the children to the police station on Sunday morning, says: “One of the boys was determined to get his ball back from the woman. Even when we went to the police station, he demanded that the police make the woman return his ball, and declined the offer of a constable to buy him a new one.”

In another apartment complex in the Ulsoor area of the city, Arpita Shetty (name changed) was recently faced with a similar complaint by neighbours when young children in her apartment including her daughter, were playing boisterously one evening in the corridor on their floor. The apartment association wanted her pay a fine of Rs 500.

“I told them I would pay them Rs 500 if they watched all the children until they got tired. It was raining that day so they could not go to the play area. Where would I take so many children to play?” she says.

One irate resident of an apartment complex told The News Minute that he just wanted peace and quiet when he was home. Asked what he thought about children’s right to play, he said: “Now I enjoy having a drink and smoking in the open where there’s a good breeze. But I’m not allowed to do that in the corridors or on terrace. It’s the same (with children playing). Every person has their personal space. And home is where everyone turns to for moments of inner peace. So I would not like someone taking that away from me.”

Aradhya says that the children in his building decided to use the terrace because there wasn’t a separate play area for children in their building and there were also no playgrounds in their locality.

“This city is a concrete jungle. There are no playgrounds for children,” he said.

Lack of public spaces such as playegrounds, even in apartments and other localities is a serious problem in any city. According to a report in The Indian Express, 2013-14 figures of the BBMP show that there were around 1060 parks in the city. This averages out to one park for 8,962 people. Many of these are often not wider than a corridor, while others are not fit to use on account of locked gates, litter or poor maintenance in general. One example of the state of affairs is when a bunch of kids made a video about the lack of development of their neighbourhood park and sent it Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda in April.

Bengaluru’s unplanned urban explosion (for a small portion of which, a nexus of criminal activity and corrupt councilors is responsible) has seen to the near extinction of the species of public spaces – and Bengaluru’s parks are one of these spaces.

In most cities today, this lack of recreational space is seriously affecting young people who do not have a constructive outlet for their energy. This affects both their emotional and physical well-being. On the other hand, adults too have nowhere to go for a quiet evening after a day’s work. 

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