Home BEYOND THE LIMITS Bhaskar Sawant- The man fighting to save playgrounds against relentless urbanisation

Bhaskar Sawant- The man fighting to save playgrounds against relentless urbanisation

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Since 1977, Bhaskar Sawant is on a mission to save playgrounds of Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.

How it all started?

Bhaskar Sawant was a student of Ruia College at Matunga in Mumbai. It was at that time he found encroachers successfully taking over the famous Dadkar ground situated opposite to his institution.

Sawant immediately took action by gathering his friends to protest against this illegal act. He could not save one portion of the ground from being occupied by the newly-built petrol pump, but he was successful in evicting vagabonds and urchins from settling on the ground. 

The petrol pump is still operational at one corner of the Dadkar Ground but, otherwise, there is no further encroachment there. It is now home to a Cricket Academy that regularly trains players under the guidance of famous cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar.

The journey of 48 years

The success of Dadkar Ground was the ‘push’ that led Bhaskar Sawant to his 48-years of incessant journey of saving playgrounds. He formed the Maidan Bachaao Samiti and travelled extensively from Dadar to Dahisar and Mumbai to Marathwada. He faced several challenges, went through protests and hunger stikes; but always remained firm in his mission.

While remembering his actions against illegal encroachments and agitations to save playgrounds, Sawant found the Gandhi Maidan Protest in Kurla to be the most exhaustive. His Maidan Bachaao Samiti, in collaboration with local organisation, Seva Sanskriti, had a legal battle for 25 years to stop building permanent houses for slum dwellers in the open space.

All experience compiled in Mhatee Maidananchi

While saving one playground and the other, Bhaskar Sawant gathered knowledge about the history of each ground he visited. The Kamgaar Maidan, Nare Park, Godrej Ground, Malabar Hill Ground, Nardulla Tank playground- all these became a part of his life. He often wrote about his experience and knowledge about various grounds in local newspapers and magazines. 

So to keep a permanent track of all his articles, Bhaskar Sawant compiled his published articles in a book Mhatee Maidananchi (Importance of Playgrounds). In the midst of ‘concrete jungle’, Sawant tried to bring a fresh breathe of open space to the readers. 

Wants more players on the ground

Bhaskar Sawant is not too much in favour of clubs and gymnasiums sprouting on open spaces. Instead, he wants children and youngsters to play on open grounds. He wants them to feel the nature, to feel the essence of the soil.

Presently, Bhaskar Sawant is the head of Dnyaneshwar Vidyalaya at Wadala in Mumbai. He loves this newer self of himself in which he finds time to spend quality time with kids. He tries to raise them with the simple life lesson- be good and do good.

Thus, Bhaskar Sawant’s life of simple living and high thinking is indeed an instance of self motivation- keep moving and keep working; others will join, roads will open, thus, bringing the destination closer.

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PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata. After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata. In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer. Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream. So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.

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