End the power games over open spaces

Updated: Oct 24, 2019, 08:13 IST | The Editorial | Mumbai

The court in its order stated that no sports organisation will be permitted to carry out any organised activity and the plot would be used as a public garden

Diwali came early for Goregaon residents as the Bombay High Court ruled that Venus Cultural Association, being treated as a personal fiefdom by a BJP minister's family, is a public garden.

The court in its order stated that no sports organisation will be permitted to carry out any organised activity and the plot would be used as a public garden. The order to this effect was issued on October 17, a front-page report said in this paper.

The petitioner claimed that the ground located in Goregaon (W) belonged to the BMC and was handed over to the association on a caretaker basis. The association then started cricket coaching and charged fees for the same. During training sessions, the association prohibited entry for common man into the public garden.

Grounds must be open to the common man. The civic authorities, while handing open spaces to caretakers for whatever reason, must have a set of rules to ensure they remain accessible to all. Those in charge of grounds must see that the public is allowed entry for as much time as possible.

Mumbai residents struggle to find open spaces for recreation. Upscale clubs with grounds bar non- members except if they are signed in by existing members as guests. We need to ensure that whenever possible, grounds are open and available for the public as the psychological, intangible benefits of space are significant.

It is disheartening that a citizen had to go to court to make the ground available to the public. Venus Cultural Association was fortunate to have had an activist willing to pursue the legal option. Not everyone does that.

Grounds are also often taken over by local politicians and their Mafioso, who use money and muscle power to keep people out. This cycle of power games needs to be broken so that there can be an equal playing field (pun intended) for all.

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