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Bal Bhavan Needs Preservation

Monday, March 1, 2021

Smt. Chikamma Basavaraj

Chairperson, Bal Bhavan Society,

1st floor, M.S. Building,Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore-01

Email: directorwcd01@gmail.com Tel: 080-22355984

Dear Madam:

Subject: Jawahar Bal Bhavan Bangalore better utilization; focus on Heritage Building & Natural Heritage

Bal Bhavan has been a part of most of Bangalore’s childhood. Whether it is the beauty of the park, trees & greenery, the iconic toy train, the slides and playground as well as the auditorium for events, the sprawling 12.5 acre Bal Bhavan inaugurated 1967 has undoubtedly been an integral part of Bangalorean childhood. Sadly it does not seem so anymore.

We understand what a difficult time it is, given the pandemic and the fact that this might have escaped your immediate attention. The Putani Express Toy Train restoration end 2019 was wonderful. However it is a concern to see the current state of the Bal Bhavan Societywith gates locked and the entire large acreage of Bal Bhavan decrepit, uncared for and unused. We appreciate and resonate that Covid, pandemic pressure and lock down has also made the Bal Bhavan more decayed and underutilised then it should. What is strange is that attempts have been made by Smart City to add more children friendly areas with specific playgrounds, equipment etcetera in an already shrinking expanse of Cubbon Park. This is ironic when such a large and central part of CubbonPark i.e. Bal Bhavan, specifically allotted to children for their exclusive use, is right there. In terms of the broader theme of natural heritage and the children's area there must be serious discussion and collaboration including public consultation on bringing back the 1967 Bal Bhavan to its old glory. To see this massive space being locked up and just left as it is to literally rot is most unfortunate, as you would agree. Mysuru Bal Bhavan is in the same situation. No one benefits, least of all the children it was meant to serve.

In addition, the 20 million-year-old fossilized tree gifted by Geological Survey of India needs to be showcased. The beautiful Otto Koenigsberger Victory Hall, now an auditorium is hardly used and has not been properly restored even though it is a heritage building with much background an importance for the general public of Bangalore as well as for the children . The 2004 Tata (TCCI) Initiative with GoI needs reviving to be able to use this space appropriately and with proper respect to its historical and architectural background as well as its pristine park setting is very important. A more detailed set of inputs on both functionality, aesthetics, natural landscaping and adaptability for children can be shared later - but what is most important is to have the intent & commitment to utilise this beautiful expanse of precious Cubbon Park with the children as it is meant to and in the way that it most adds value to childhood and heritage, in our fast growing concrete city. More children must actively participate and become part of Bal Bhavan membership. The children need their Bal Bhavan back, or if unused, it must be a part of the overall Cubbon Park. We look forward to a meeting and your thoughts on this so that we could take it forward and support you in getting Bal Bhavan to be the central children’s’ city oasis, that Bangalore will be proud of once again. We appreciate your attention and support.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Priya Chetty-Rajagopal

CC: Smt. Shashikala Jolle, Hon Minister , Women & Child Welfare

CC: Mr Ravi Kumar, Chief Secretary, GoK

CC: Chairperson, Women and Child Welfare Department

CC: Secretary Mr RK Kataria & Director Ms Fouzia Taranum, Horticulture,

CC: Deputy Director Mr. Balakrishnan , Cubbon Park

 

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