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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 12, March 18, 2023

Fading Purpose of Parks in Delhi | Jeevesh Gupta

Saturday 18 March 2023


by Jeevesh Gupta *

I remember when music was thrown out of the deer park in South Delhi by DDA. This was sometime in 2016-17 when a group of drummers called the Delhi Drums Circle having 20000+ active members on Facebook and 100+ in attendance for every get together, were asked to stop playing because as per DDA the music was troubling the animals inside the deer park. All this group was doing was playing drums and other instruments, dancing, bringing people from various walks of life together and spreading happiness at all levels of the society. The group would also reach out to schools, colleges, differently abled, cancer and leprosy patients to try and make at least one day in their life happier than ever before! The group broke into small pieces and never reunited ever again.

Parks inside colonies were developed with a purpose. We all who were born in the 70s and 80s would remember playing cricket, football, badminton and socialising in our colony park openly with everyone from the block or adjoining areas. These parks were spaces where community festivals would be celebrated and were an insurance of green cover for every colony. As security became a concern with increase in crime in Delhi and advent of the internet and other sources of entertainment, we started witnessing reducing attendance in the colony parks. One wonders whether these are the only reasons for no children visible in colony parks these days?

One of the biggest reasons is that the purpose of parks started getting redefined. While we want to promote sports, the games have just vanished from these parks. No one is seen playing cricket, football or badminton in the colony park. The parks started getting re-laid in the name of making them beautiful. While the setting up of gyms in every park was a great idea and well implemented, the making of fountains, putting kerbstones, building gazebos (wrongly planned) just took away the space where children could run away with the ball freely. The concrete element inside the park went up exponentially. Not just Delhi was getting concretised, so were our parks.

According to the Delhi Government website, Delhi has 18000+ parks. The Malviya Nagar constituency in South Delhi itself has 326 parks which is a huge number but the condition of some of these parks is very bad. Few have even become garbage disposal grounds or are being used for parking. Without any grass and minimum tree cover, all one witnesses is loads of concrete, metal fencing, piles of garbage (including foliage of leaves) in these parks. With some having no water connection and others having no allocation of a Gardner from the government, who do we think will maintain and take ownership of the tree cover, plants, grass and entire park infrastructure? Parks are being locked and children are not allowed to play sports in the parks. While the government in the past did engage with RWAs across Delhi to ensure better maintenance of parks, who would maintain parks where RWAs are not dispensing their commitment righteously? For sure, we all stakeholders need to introspect why our children have stopped visiting the colony park and their maintenance.

A suggested step in the right direction would be to reduce concrete in these parks. For example a park in B6 block in Safdarjung Enclave (Delhi), has a huge non-functional fountain made of concrete taking up a lot of space which can be opened up and children will have more space to run around and play. Similarly lot of parks have a room housing the water pumping station but many of these are in a dilapidated condition and non-functional. These need to be either reconstructed and if they are not required, should be removed. While benches and huts are a requirement for senior citizens and people wanting to relax inside the parks, these need to be planned so that they do not encroach into children’s playing area. The gyms put up few years ago in parks across Delhi now need maintenance/replacement/repair. With increasing stray animals, lot of these parks are a house for them which needs to be looked into with immediate effect.

The future of our children and we as a society is at stake. If the parks will continue to repel kids away, they will not develop any affinity with mother nature and its various elements. After all they are one of the first spaces where a toddler should go as she/he learns to walk.

* (Author: Jeevesh Gupta |

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