1 lakh sq ft playground disappears!

Feb 27, 2013, 01:53 IST | Vivek Sabnis

A children's playground and a seasonal nullah near Vetal Tekdi, which existed in the civic body's Development Plan of 1987, miraculously disappeared from the new plan made for 2007-2027; over 2 acres of playing area for kids has shrunk to a mere 14,000 sq ft plot.

The reservations made for a children’s playground and a culvert at Survey No 124, near Vetal Tekdi, in the Development Plan (DP) of 1987 has been omitted by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in its new DP made for 2007-2027.

Park, don’t play: Students of MIT College park their vehicles at the spot that has been reserved for a playground. According to experts, a two-acre children’s playground is a basic necessity for any urban area inhabited by around 5,000 families. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

The miraculously disappearance of the huge chunk of land from the new plan has been brought to the fore by Retired Town Planner Yashwant Kanhere. In his report, Kanhere has exposed how a 1 lakh sq ft of land reserved for playground has ‘shrunk’ in to a mere 14,000 sq ft facility, and that too as a private garden of Savali Society at Survey No 124.

Vanished in thin air: The miraculous disappearance of the playground and the nullah from the new plan has been brought to the fore by (inset) retired town planner Yashwant Kanhere. Pics/Krunal Gosavi

Likewise, there is no mention of the culvert in the new DP. “It’s a grave mistake and should be corrected immediately. It is wrong to make such changes in the zonal maps, as it replicates directly in the DP. Besides, there is no basis or need to change the map by removing such important reservations,” he remarked.

MiD DAY, after being brought to its notice by Kanhare, had reported the construction of a wall across the culvert near Vetal Tekdi. Kanhere also did an extensive study of the area, following which 3,000 families from the locality formed Save Green Group (SGG). The group has been formed to restore the ecology of the area.

Prashant Kodolikar, a SGG activist, said, “For any urban area that inhabits around 5,000 families, around two acre of children’s playground is a basic necessity. Besides, there’s also a need to preserve the culvert. The PMC, to maintain the ecology of the area, should declare both sides of the culvert as a green zone.”

Kodolikar accused the builder lobby, along with an educational institute, for influencing PMC’s decision. “We had written about to PMC Commissioner Mahesh Pathak recently. Despite pointing out all these facts, nothing has been done so far,” he lamented.

Prashant Waghmare, city engineer, PMC, said, “There is no question of ignoring of the culvert. While making the new DP, we had done a comprehensive survey and had meticulously checked all the reservations, including children’s playground. The maps and DP is based on the survey done with the help of satellite images.”

When contacted, Aniruddha Pavaskar, executive engineer of the PMC’s DP Cell, said, “We need to check both the DPs and the respective maps. If there is a mistake, it needs to be rectified. This can be done in the suggestions and recommendation hearing of the DP.

Likewise Deepak Mankar, local corporator and deputy mayor of the PMC, said, “I have received the report made by Kanhere. The issue of water body and playground would be raised during the suggestions and objections hearings, which will be organised by the state government.”

Balasaheb Padwal, maintenance surveyor, land and acquisition of Kothrud, PMC, said, “Our department had issued notice to Savali Society for occupying the land reserved for children’s playground. Similar notice had been issued to MIT College. However, the institute, in its reply, denied the charge.”

Meanwhile, RTI activist and founder president of Surajya Sangharsha Samiti Vijay Kumbhar said, “As per Supreme Court rulings, playgrounds fall under community space. If the PMC wanted to make any change, it should have made it 200 meters from of the existing reserved plot.” He added that the civic body should check if the educational institution is letting other children too to use it. “If not, then necessary action should be taken against them,” he said.

The other side
Dr Vishwanath Karad, director of MIT College, said, “The playground that has been reserved falls under the MIT campus. We are using it for the playground only by not violating any rules. In addition, we do allow those who want to play on the ground. Why has this issue been coming up again and again when everything has been decided after seeking all permissions from PMC three decades ago?”

Observations, recommendation
>> Closure of public roads in the area by constructing a temple
>> Lack of cantor maps and organised open space
>> Proliferation of slums and temples
>> Cutting the hills for NA activity
>> The existing seasonal water body (BN7) should be retained, and should be studied to exploit its use throughout the year 

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