With no signs of rains till date, children are pouring into gardens across the city to share fun-filled evenings after a day of study at their schools. Salonee Mistry visits five such children’s parks to identify what works and what doesn’t for the little ones and their parents. In most parks, broken benches and worn-out metal edges on swings and other equipment are common. Most of the parks are devoid of any kind of emergency arrangement, like a first-aid kit or boards announcing numbers that parents can use of in case any child gets hurt, or a list of nearby hospitals. Here are the parks that dna took a look at.
Shivarkar Garden (Wanavadi)
The multipurpose 3 acre Shivarkar Garden at Wanavadi was a surprise owing to the condition it was in after it just recently got renovated a few months back. The old swings and playing equipment’s seemed to make the corners of the garden their home, not to mention the overloaded garbage bins that stood along with them. The wells without any fencing and no guards to man the gate, the safety of the children at the park is a big concern. Only one restroom catering to the men that too without water and proper lighting along with abundance of cobwebs was also shocking. Hawkers too were lined up outside the garden by around 7 pm. Even so, the slides and swings that have just recently been replaced were in good condition and the overall cleanliness of the park was commendable.
Tatyasaheb Thorat Udyan (Kothrud)
While parks should be a place for children to play carefree and enjoy, this particular park was out to hurt the kids. A broken airforce aircraft occupied a large area of the park and children continued to play on it scratching and hurting themselves on the worn out metal edges. Old swings and slides lay in corners and the gates too remained unattended which as a result were an open invitation for the unruly young men that seemed to patrol the garden at around 6:30 in the evening when we visited the park. There were water coolers with no water and restrooms with no light. A half full pond in the middle of the garden with no proper fencing and water that was a breeding home for mosquito’s was also a part of the play area for the kids. However the swings that were in place were in good condition and there were not many hawkers outside the garden.
Chittaranjan Vatika (Model Colony)
We visited the park at 6 PM in the evening and it was bustling with activity. Although the swings, jungle jim and slides all look new and well kept they were not being used by children but by adults and construction workers that were building a pathway for joggers. The one thing that you instantly notice is that the work of beautification is yet not complete. On asking the security police women on guard there she told us that it has been almost 10 months since the work began. Large blocks of granite and large piles of gravel can also be seen around the children’s play area. There was a restroom but was no well maintained and as a result had no lighting at all. The saving grace for this park was 3 security women guards constantly paroling the area in case one needed help or information and that the park was clean and well kept with waste bins and benches at regular intervals. There were also no hawkers outside or inside the park
Sambhaji Park (JM Road)
On a generic observation although the park seemed well kept and the play area was in a good condition. However certain things just could not go unnoticed, The benches in the parks were broken at several places and piles of mud from some long time construction lay in the corners. Although there were three gates and three guards for the garden, all the guards were seen whiling away time at only one of the gates of the park. At 6:30 pm when we just about reached the garden, hawkers could be seen flocking into the park not to mention their presence outside as well raising issues of security of children. The play area for the kids was a little far from where the guards were stationed and drinking water to was provided at only on one end of the park.
Kamla Nehru Park (Prabhat Road)
At 6 pm when we visited the park, it was bustling with crowd from all the entrance’s even the little one in a corner. No guards were present at either of the gates but when we asked around we were told that the guard lived inside the garden and did patrolling after every few hours although we did not see him. The swings and slides in the park were in a good condition and water coolers too were present. There was however some of the old construction materials and piles of mud in corners of the garden. The park was relatively clean but had some wrappers and plastic bags lying around. There was no tab on the kind of people who entered the garden and as such the safety of the park is questionable.