GDA wants one-fourth of big parks earmarked as play area for children

Ghaziabad: There is good news in store for parents who often complain about lack of playgrounds for children growing up in cities. The Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) has directed officials to keep aside at least one-fourth area in all major parks as a play area for children. The authority said the decision was taken as children, nowadays, hardly find any space to play.

The authority officials said for want of playgrounds and open spaces, children and youngsters often occupy roads, vacant plots or any small open area in colonies for sporting activities, thereby inconveniencing residents.

“We have asked our officials to conduct a survey and earmark at least one-fourth of space in big parks as play areas. The space will be devoted to children and will be covered with nets on all sides. This will not cause an inconvenience to other visitors and children will get a dedicated area for themselves. In cities like London, there are separate spaces in parks for children and youngsters. But in India, our children find little space for playing,” Kanchan Verma, vice-chairperson, GDA, said.

The authority maintains several big and small parks across the city and the list includes the Swarn Jayanti Park in Indirapuram, Ram Manohar Lohiya Park in Sahibabad and other parks in Raj Nagar area.

The officials said the initiative has been taken up on the lines of the Centre’s ‘Khelo India’ programme which has been introduced to revive a sports culture at the grassroots level by building a strong framework for sports.

The authority has also directed its officials to send notices to schools/institutions which have been given green belts on concessional lease rates and do not allow children from nearby localities to play there after school hours.

“As per the terms of the lease agreement, the (green belt) area should be provided to local children for playing after school hours. I have asked officials to send notices to institutions with green belts on lease and seek their response on the issue,” Verma said.

In reply to a query filed under the Right to Information Act by councillor and social activist Rajendra Tyagi, the authority in 2018 had disclosed that about 94,000 square metres of green belts in the city were offered to 13 different educational institutions.

The activist alleged that over the years, the green belts/parks have been merged within the boundaries of the institutions and constructions have come up on green belts. He added that under the lease conditions, institutions were not allowed to raise permanent constructions beyond 2% of the total area.

“We are of view that the lease should be cancelled as green belts are public areas. Some institutions have merged green belts with their land and portray the area as their property. The green belts were to be allowed to be used as a playing area for children from nearby localities. However, there is hardly any instance of institutions allowing this,” Tyagi said.

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