CHENNAI: There has been very little rainfall in the last two days but most parks in the city have been out of bounds for local residents due to lack of maintenance and debris.
Water logging, fallen trees, broken equipment and shoddy maintenance is a common sight at Nageswara Rao park in Mandaveli, Independence Day park in Nungambakkam and Sivan Park in K K Nagar.
Instead of cleaning up the parks after the wet spell and opening them, contractors who take care of the public facilities have locked them up. Some of these parks are maintained by residential welfare associations, corporates and non-profit organisations.
As per the Greater Chennai Corporation, there are 702 parks in the city, out of which only 54 are maintained by them. About 554 parks were outsourced to contractors in 2019 and the civic body had claimed to have earned 1 cr in revenue from playfields alone after this.
The remaining are maintained by contractors and residential welfare associations. “In the southern region, out of the 330 parks, 323 are open. Only seven have been closed due to water stagnation and tree fall problems. This will be cleared and oepned to public on Monday. Only two in central region have been closed,” said an official.
However, in reality, several parks are not open for public. Rekha S, a resident of K K Nagar, said she visited Sivan park twice in the last two days. “They didn’t allow us inside. The watchman said they were yet to clear tree debris… they were worried that some branches could fall on walkers,” she said. Another common problem at most parks is the stench that emanates due to lack of maintenance of toilets after the rain. At Nageswara Rao park, due to water stagnation, the stench from toilets is unbearable, said a local resident.
The park maintenance contract was given in 2019 to a single contractor for a period of five years. There were a lot of issues with the way the tender was awarded and the manner of functioning of these parks under contractors. Though they were supposed to appoint three sweepers, two watchmen and other staff, in most parks, this has not been done.
“That was one of the reasons why more residents were requested to come forward to adopt parks. We had received many applications but then the pandemic struck. We will look into this,” said an official.