Undiplomatic scrap among bureaucrats over sharing Delhi park

New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) Turf war is not new to the government as babus often fight over control and access between ministries and within ministries and departments. But when our diplomatic officials get embroiled in an undiplomatic spat with officials from other ministries — over, of all things, access to a park – it makes for news.
Transit hostel facilities for officials of different Government of India ministries — Asia House Hostel and Ministry of External Affairs Hostel — situated next to each other in the heart of the national capital are at daggers drawn, so to say, over a “common park” shared by all residents for decades.

The two hostels are located in Kasturba Gandhi Marg in central Delhi.

Officials at the ministry, who spend hours trying to paper over differences among nations, intervened to close the park after two children fought over a minor issue two months ago, according to families living in the Asia House Hostel.

“The park was being shared by residents of both the hostels for over 20 years. Suddenly after a minor issue it was closed for us,” Suhail Fasih, president, Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of Asia House Hostel, told IANS.

He said the Asia House Hostel residents’ welfare association met its counterpart of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Hostel, but nothing positive emerged.

“We tried to resolve the issue amicably,” he said. Taking the dispute to the next level, they wrote a letter seeking intervention of the ministry in the matter.

“There has been no response from the ministry,” Fasih said.

Putting the MEA Hostel’s side forward, ministry official Yashpal, who is posted there to look after the hostel, said that the park was the property of the MEA hostel but was being shared with Asia House Hostel.

“Both the hostels used to share the facility, but now as the crowd has increased and there have been issues between the two groups, it (the park) has been closed for them,” he said.

Yashpal, who uses only one name, also said that the entire area would be redeveloped by the ministry. “Nobody knows how things will shape up in future,” he said, adding that since the park is a property of the MEA, it depends on how the ministry would like to reshape it.

Government officials living in the Asia House Hostel, however, say that there are indications that the park was a common space.

“The park has an entrance from our side also and that makes it clear that it is common to all of us,” Amrish Kumar, under secretary, Lok Sabha Secretariat, said.

Perhaps it’s time to start Confidence Building Measures between the two warring sides, both officials of the Government of India.

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