The place which is supposed to be packed with children enjoying in the playground, recreation areas and entertainment center has now become an eyesore. Yes, this is how our city’s District Jawahar Bal Bhavan in Bannimantap has turned out.If you visit the Bal Bhavan once hoping you can make children play for a while, you will be definitely disappointed and hesitate to visit again as children will not get to play at the amusement park or enjoy a joy ride on the toy train, stroll on the green park, visit the doll museum, swimming pool, waterfalls etc. Instead, they will be welcomed by an open field full of weeds and a re(u)sting toy train.The sprawling 13-acre Bal Bhavan, once known as Vijaya Dashami Park, was inaugurated on Children’s Day (Nov. 14) in 1979 and it was a beehive of activities for kids. Children used to visit this place in large numbers during weekends and enjoy a joy ride on toy train. But now this toy train has become an antique piece housed in a shelter for the past nine months and the track is fully submerged with weeds.This toy train, which can accommodate 100 children, was chugging a distance of almost 1.1 km with six bogies (3 small and three large-sized bogies). Among them, two bogies are under repair for the past two years and another two are without wheels."The tracks are made of wooden sleepers, which are no longer manufactured. Now they have to be replaced with concrete or iron sleepers, which will cost around Rs. 45 lakh," says K.V. Krishnamurthy, Principal Organiser, Bal Bhavan. The toys available are also not properly maintained enough to play. The entire park, which comes under the Department of Women and Child Welfare, has never been properly maintained and it is now in a dilapidated condition. A ray of hope ? When SOM contacted MLA Tanveer Sait, under whose con-stituency this park area is located, he said, "Modernisation of Bal Bhavan will be taken up in the month of January and completed by next Dasara. Last year, MUDA sanctioned Rs.1.90 crore for the development of the park and a Detailed Project Report (DPR) prepared by Raydius Events & Promotions is also ready. Tenders will be invited and more facilities will be added for children’s amusement and to make it attractive." Sait added, "At any cost the work will start in January. If adequate funds are not granted from MUDA, I will start the work through grants from the MP and MLA funds."The proposed project includes an Artificial Forest, Snake & Ladder arena, Crocodile Park, Rock Climbing, Bike Rally arena, tiny-tots play arena and many more with some modern games. All this will be established to educate as well as encourage creative thinking in children. New attractions like fibre models of crocodile, lion and cubs, tiger, gorilla, zebra, tortoise, cheetah, giraffe, monkey, elephant herd, python and caves of huge rock structures are also being thought of. Construction of additional buildings, providing power and water supply, landscaping, re-introducing toy train and railway stations, erection of compound walls, artificial forest, gaming zones, open air theatre, restaurant, candy shop, ice-cream parlour, toilets, shelter are all on the anvil at an estimated cost of around Rs. 4.05 crore. All these proposed additional infrastructures are expected to be completed within 12 months from the date of final agreement with MUDA. N.R. Vijay, Deputy Director of Women and Child Welfare, said that a requsition letter has been sent to the Divisional Railway Manager seeking to reinvent the track. Many promises and plans were made for the development of Bal Bhavan but it remained only on the papers of the official document. Let's hope Bal Bhavan will get a makeover soon.Regularise Bal Bhavan staff: Right now, there are six people working in Bal Bhavan, whose jobs are not yet confirmed nor are they getting any facilities like PF and Pension. They are working as daily wagers for the past 28 years.
[October 18, 2009]