The shrinking open spaces in the suburbs of Mumbai is affecting children, who yearn to run, play and have fun like children are meant to. While there are sports facilities that rent out space and equipment for a rate, it means that it is for the handful people who can afford; leaving a majority of people yearning for space to play. This lack of space is forcing the young citizens to find places to play that may not be the best for them, keeping their safety, health and upbringing in mind.
Amol Lalzare a community correspondent with Video Volunteers has been an advocate for play space for children for the children of suburban slums of Mumbai for almost 10 years. He brings us a video report on how children in the suburbs of Mankhurd, Mumbai are struggling to play in the cramped up city of Mumbai.
Dinesh, 10, and his friends play in an open space with defecating neighbours, drunk teenagers, shards of glass, and other filth so that they can play cricket. In order to have time to play, they hide the condition of their ‘playground’ from their parents. “We don’t tell our parents that we play here. They think we go to a proper ground to play. If they know we play here, they will not let us out to play,” Dinesh tells Amol.
Having drunk people around while playing also lead to chances of being bullied, physical harm or in worst-case scenario sexual harassment. The lack of open space especially creates barriers for girls since their security is the primary concern for parents as Amol’s video here showcases . A recent research by Pukar, a Mumbai-based NGO states that lack of space forces girls to quit playing at the age of 12 as compared to boys, who can play until the age of 20.
“Whatever be the games, playing is an important part of our lives. The children of my neighbourhood face many difficulties looking for a safe place to play, and I intend to change it for their sake,” he tells us and urges us to join his call for play.
Why are playgrounds necessary for children
With open spaces shrinking in urban areas, especially playing facilities, children are left in lurch. It is not uncommon to see them playing on busy roads and any open space such as the one here. “Various figures portray Mumbai’s per capita open space ratio as ranking among the lowest of all the world’s major metropolitan areas, and especially more so if the national park and mangrove creeks are not included as open spaces,” says naturalist and nature writer Sunjoy Monga. While Mumbai is termed one of the world’s mega-city, as compared to its compatriots such as New York and Singapore, Mumbai has an abysmal paucity of gardens and playgrounds. A 2012 analysis by Open Mumbai, reveals the appalling ratio of 0.03 acres of open space for every 1,000 persons, a far cry from London’s 12 acres, New York’s four acres and Singapore’s six acres per 1,000 people.
The Bombay High Court, in a judgment on mill land in 2005, also noted kids in the city may be born with mental and physical infirmities if the oxygen levels reduce gradually due to lack of open spaces and recreational facilities.
Amol wants the children of Makhurd to have a safe haven to run, play and be free like children should be. He has made a request for the playground with Ms Sunanda Lokare, Councillor, M-East Ward, Mumbai. You can help by calling her +91-8879997173 and request her to expedite the process.
Community correspondent Amol Lalzare reports from Maharashtra for Video Volunteers.
This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent. Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change. we could hyperlink to some VV pages, like our take action page.