BBMP Council on 25 February 2015, suo moto, passed a resolution, wherein Startling Line Sports were granted permission ONLY to develop a cricket pitch in the BBMP playground located in Indiranagar 1st Stage, at their expense; for free usage of general public and students of nearby schools and colleges. There was no mention of subsequent maintenance of the playground in the resolution.
The cricket pitch was developed by Starting Line and is being used for their own commercial usage. The public property, in clear violation of The Karnataka Parks, Play-fields and Open Spaces (Preservation and Regulation) Act, 1985, is beingused by M/s Starting Line to conduct cricket coaching camp for their own cricket academy.
The fees being charged, as quoted by Sujith Somasundar, co-founder and director, Starting Line Sports, is Rs 25,000 per annum for weekday classes, and Rs 18,000 per annum for weekend classes. This obviously caters to the society that can afford to spend such money and not the general public. This also amounts to commercial usage of public property. The area is cordoned off, restraining the general public usage during the mornings and evenings, when the camp is in progress. This is also the peak time when children from the neighbourhood would like to play.
Starting Line Sports has also created a private entrance from the playground, which is kept under lock and key by them, to their office located across the playground.
The playground is located right adjacent to the BBMP, Assistant Executive Engineer’s Office, who has turned a blind eye to the ongoings. The playground is also strategically located close to a number of schools, colleges and a slum, and this is the only playground available for them.
Somasundar has earlier today justified this encroachment of public land by stating that the playground was in bad shape. Mrs. Kurian, a resident of the area, as someone who stays opposite to the park, states: “On the weekends, there used to be eight to ten separate groups of underprivileged youngsters and children playing in that field. This ground was the only open space that they had to do that. Most live in the slum area on the other side of the 100 feet road. It was awful to realise that they were stopped from using the ground after the corrupt BBMP guys leased the place out to the ‘famous cricketers’! For goodness’ sakes! Didn’t those cricketers know that they were breaking rules and behaving with no civic responsibility at all?”
She adds: “I talked to somebody in the BBMP office on the 6th Cross in my broken Kannada and he told me that those children also will be trained by these cricketers! I never believed him!! I now see the well- dressed and affluent children of various ages coming and getting trained”.
The following can be seen below:
Page 1: A copy of the letter to the BBMP Mayor
Page 2: The BBMP respolution
Page 3: A response from Starting Line regarding the fees for the camp