Schools told to open fields
New Delhi, May 16:  New Delhi, May 16: Schools in the capital which get land for playgrounds at dirt cheap rates now have to share it with children from the neighbourhood, though not during school hours.

Sports minister Ajay Maken, who had suggested this in a letter to urban development minister Kamal Nath earlier this month, said the go-ahead came yesterday.

“Yesterday I received a letter from Kamal Nath giving a green signal to our suggestion that local kids should be allowed to use school play fields during non-school hours,” Maken said. “And I thank him for that.”

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is the agency responsible for allotting land to schools in the capital. The DDA comes directly under the urban development ministry.

Maken had asked the urban development ministry to push schools to open their playgrounds after school hours to children who lived within a 3km radius.

The minister’s main contention was that the land for playgrounds was provided at rates much lower than market rates. “While the land for school building is allotted on perpetual lease at relatively higher payable costs, the land for play fields is allotted on temporary basis on payment of nominal ground rent,” he said.

“The Delhi Development Authority has given land, including space for play fields, to numerous schools in the capital. It will be pertinent to mention here that there is enormous difference between the amount charged by the DDA for the portion of land given for the school building and the portion allotted for play field,” Maken said in his May 3 letter to Nath.

The DDA had, through its allotment deeds, made it compulsory for some schools to allow their play fields to be used by local children during non-school hours. But the schools have ignored the clause.

Maken said he has also written to the chief ministers of all states to implement the suggestion.

“I have urged all the chief ministers to try and seek the same permission and implement the same as we have done it in Delhi,” the minister said.

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