Amma Park in Virupatchi, Oddanchatram, has not served its purpose.
Located near freedom fighter Gopala Nayakkar’s memorial, which was inaugurated recently by the Collector, the park is spread over 50 cents of land and was constructed at a cost of ₹30 lakh including ₹10 lakh for an outdoor gym. However, the plush-looking facility remains underutiliaed, complain residents.
“The park which was thrown open to the public, briefly has been shut again for unclear reasons. The facility was a much-needed one for a place like Virupatchi, especially being a safe play area for children. It will be of help to the public if the park is opened on a regular basis for a fixed time daily,” said Asaithambi, a resident of Oddanchatram.
“The park was opened a few months ago through video conferencing by the Chief Minister. However, after a few days, the park was locked for public use due to alleged internal politics among local politicians,” said an official from the Oddanchatram Panchayat Union Office on the condition of anonymity.
The infrastructure was developed by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department with funds from State Finance Commission. In a bid to create a recreational space of greenery, Amma parks have come up in panchayats that have an annual income of ₹20 lakh.
As per government guidelines, the park is equipped with facilities such as paved walkers’ path, LED lights, steel and cement benches, toilet facilities for women, children and the elderly, children play area, landscaped garden and water facilities. The park at Virupatchi also has gym facility.
“The park was a pleasant place to hangout in the evening. But, as it has been closed, people have stopped going there,” said Suresh Kumar, member of the District Consumer Protection Committee. “It is said that some youth entered the park and damaged the lights and tiles and that is why it has been closed temporarily to keep away mischievous elements,” he added.
Collector M. Vijayalakshmi said the issue had not been brought to her notice and promised that steps would be taken to open the park regularly for public use. “It is a government infrastructure for the benefit of citizens and no one can interfere in its use. Necessary action will be taken to ensure public use of the park.”