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LAHORE: A delay in devising a monitoring and fitness mechanism as well as proper legislation for the operations of mechanical swings in public parks of the province has not only adversely affected recreational activities of people, but also caused a huge revenue loss for the departments concerned as well as vendors.

Mechanical swings in public parks across the province had been shut down following a tragic incident in a park in Sahiwal during Eid holidays and the chief minister had ordered to constitute a committee to check flaws in the swings and devise a mechanism to regulate any issues. However, swings in public parks of Lahore, which are managed and controlled by the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA), had been mostly closed since the Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park’s suicide attack in March.

“For the last couple of months, the swings at Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park have been closed. It has become a headache for us because many children have no options for recreation,” Muhammad Ilyas, a resident of Iqbal Town, told Dawn. He said whenever his family visited the park, his children would insist on taking the swings, but he could not do anything.

Talking to Dawn, a PHA official said the 66-acre Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park was the biggest recreational facility in Lahore’s public sector.

“We have seen many children weeping daily over the closure. But we are helpless,” a PHA official said, who preferred anonymity.

Gulshan-i-Iqbal and Jilani parks are two major public parks of Lahore frequented by thousands of families daily. Mechanical swings at these parks are contracted out to private vendors. The PHA fetches about Rs10 million annually from 17 swings at Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park alone.

“The Gulshan park is a source of income for the PHA, as we earn Rs10 million approximately from contractors. And since the blast tragedy, we are unable to get these swings operated regularly. I think the PHA will have to return money partially to the contractors since their swings are closed for the last couple of months,” the official explained.

He said other arrangements at parks such as security measures had been completed under the requisite standard operating procedures. Others tasks included raising of boundary wall, shifting/management of parking lots and security of swings at entry and exit points.

When asked about the delay in operation of mechanical swings, the official said though a committee was constituted by the chief minister to review the entire system and devise a proper policy and mechanism, nothing had been done so far.

“Under the CM’s directions, the committee was required to get mechanical swings inspected first and then devise a mechanism, but all of this is yet to be done,” the official said, adding: “The committee must accomplish this task as soon as possible in the interest of the people, particularly children.”

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2016