PMC robs city kids of summer joy

May 15, 2014, 06:35 IST | Dheeraj Bengrut

While proposed toy train at Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in Katraj won’t be ready before summer vacations end, most adventure games at crowded Peshwe Energy Park are either ill-maintained or defunct

With the summer vacations on, kids look to the city’s various parks to make good use of their free time and one major attraction is the Peshwe Energy Park. Located near Sarsabaug, this energy park has around 65 adventure games and more than 300 activities for children.

Going for broke? This defunct drum game is a pointer to all that is wrong with the Peshwe Energy Park. Even when it was working, it lacked measures like safety ropes to keep the children from harm

When mid-day visited this park yesterday, however, some shocking things came to light. We found that most of the games there are not in working condition, there are no proper safety measures for playing the adventure games that are operational, maintenance is lacking and so are enough trained instructors to carry on these game activities.

Crowd-puller: The park is seeing a footfall of over 1,000 people every day during the school vacations

“We have many games available for children here, and the most popular ones are river crossing using wires and ropes, a specially designed Memo Park, which has 18 obstacles, pool climbing, speed balancing obstacles and rope climbing,” said Vilas Pathak, in-charge of the Park.

“These games are not only for fun and entertainment, they help to boost children’s confidence and physical strength and also help them overcome their fears. We have a contract staff of 12 instructors here, who help children undertake the activities and we provide safety equipment like belts and helmets to children for the activities where there are chances of them getting hurt,” he added.

Ground reality
mid-day, however, found that even though the park is choc-a-bloc with children these days, most of them were disappointed as most of the activities were either shut or ill-maintained. There is also a shortage of instructors. “We come here so that our children can have fun doing adventure activities.

But many of them are not working and there are no proper safety measures for the ones that are. The instructors do not guide children properly before they embark on an activity,” said Shripad Deshpande, a parent who had come to the park.

Another parent, Dr Priti Tagade, said, “If we are paying for these activities, it is the responsibility of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to see that safety measures are put in place and proper facilities are made available in the park.

The toilets here are very dirty, proper seating isn’t available and, with construction work going on in some parts, bricks and other material are lying around, which is unsafe for kids.”

High footfall
With the summer vacations on, the park is seeing heavy footfall even on weekdays. The park is usually shut on Wednesdays but the PMC is keeping it open even on that day for the holiday duration. The daily footfall exceeds 1,000 and R50,000 is the daily collection from this park during this vacation period.

Rs 1.23cr The expected spending on the Katraj toy train, including an additional R53 lakh sanctioned recently

300 The number of activities that are supposed to be available at the Peshwe Park

PMC speak

PMC chief garden superintendent Tukaram Jagtap said, “Yes, there is a manpower limitation in the Peshwe Energy Park and we have given temporary staff to help the children with games for the vacation period.

Trained manpower is lacking and we need to hire more skilled people. The current staff members in the park are on contract basis and they have learnt about the activities offered there through experience.

There is also a budget issue to improve and maintain games and we are trying to get funds. Improve-ment and development of the park is a long-term thing and will take some time.”

Asked about the future plans he said, “Personally, I am in favour of outsourcing the park’s maintenance and day-to-day running, so that skilled manpower is available to oversee these adventure games. We are working on it and, if things go well, we will take the outsourcing route for the benefit of the public.”

Quick facts
>> The park was started by PMC on 25 December, 2011, and its approximate budget was R1 crore
>> The total area of this park is 7 acres and there was a zoo here earlier, which was then shifted to Katraj
>>  The park is open from 10 am to 6 pm with a two-hour maintenance break from noon
>> The entry charge for kids (age 6-16) is Rs 40 and for parents it is Rs 10
>> Two other such adventure parks exist in the state — at Akola and Lonavla

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