Blaming junior contractual employees for not checking the conditions of swings or reporting the need for repairs, the North Municipal Corporation, in an affidavit filed before the Delhi High Court in April, absolved its senior officials of two accidents that led to the death of two people last year.
This was pointed out by amicus curiae and senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta to the court of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw during a hearing on the condition of parks in the city on Wednesday. Gupta said the permanent staff of the civic bodies was not taking the responsibility for the maintenance of the parks under their jurisdiction.
In December 2014, a girl had died after a swing set collapsed in New Moti Nagar while a man was electrocuted this January after he stepped on exposed electricity cables.
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The affidavit filed by the North corporation, however, says “no negligence” was found on the part of officials of the Horticulture department. Instead, it says the gardener and security guard of the children’s park did not file reports on the condition of the swings. In the electrocution case, a junior engineer of the Electricity department was terminated for failing to take action on the wires.
Last year, the court had taken suo motu cognizance of the problem of poor maintenance of children’s parks after a letter was sent by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.
Reports filed by Gupta in the past year have shown that equipment in many parks was not properly maintained. In an order issued in March, the court had directed the three corporations and the CPWD to file reports on the budget allocation and expenditure incurred on maintenance of the parks.
According to the affidavits filed last month, there are a total of 14,321 parks under the jurisdiction of the corporations. Of these, only 1,123 are classified as “children’s parks”.
The CPWD, which maintains 648 parks in the capital, has stated it was not responsible for the installation or maintenance of children’s play equipment in its parks as they are maintained by the concerned corporation.
The NDMC stated that it had allocated over Rs 23 crore for maintenance of the 5,788 parks under its jurisdiction in 2014-15. The East and South corporation did not give any details of expenditures. The court took note of the data, and said it will issue directions on what can be done on the matter.