KOCHI: The traders in the city are set to leverage business opportunities unfolding with the arrival of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. But tenants of the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium are running from pillar to post seeking means of livelihood during the tournament days.GCDA has directed the owners of shops, offices and godowns lining the outer ring of the stadium at Kaloor to shut down for nearly one-and-a-half months - from September 15 - as a security measure.
The shop owners have now approached the Kerala High Court challenging the GCDA decision. Fourty-four shop owners, who have approached the court, said they are occupying the structure on the basis of individual lease deeds executed by the GCDA. Activities in the shops include processing and servicing, financial services, maintenance works, tour and taxi operations and daily services. According to the shop owners, they have regular skilled workers who are to be paid regularly and covered by various social security legislative laws which cannot be interrupted.
They argued that they have committed business obligations and financial liabilities. Uninterrupted running of business activities is necessary to keep customers interested. Seventy-five year old V Ramachandran Nair, along with other shop owners, said closure of the shops will put their businesses in great peril on several grounds."There is no clear thought process behind GCDA issuing the order yielding to the request of FIFA. The decision is against the specific condition in the GCDA lease deed that the shop owners shall peacefully hold and enjoy the demised premises during the term without any interruption by the authority or any person," the shop owners said.
Apparently, GCDA directed to close down the shops without finding an alternative. Hence, the GCDA notice is arbitrary, and against the specific terms of the lease deed and the principles of natural justice. The shop owners said it is not for the first time an international tournament is being held at the venue. Matches with the participation of overseas teams were held on previous occasions."Even for the inaugural function of the Kochi Metro by the Prime Minister of India on the very same premises with high security, no such arrangement like the closure of the shops was made. There is ample provision for the security of the members of the overseas teams without having to close down the business premises and preventing the entry of customers," they said.
The shop owners further stated there are thoroughfares and public roads leading to the Kathrikkadavu-Thammanam portion of the Link Road with heavy ingress and egress by the public, spectators, media, volunteers, vendors of food and other random sales persons. "There can be no security threat, or to imagine of any such security threat in having the shops functional, if the traffic through the stadium round is allowed. The shop owners and their staffs are identifiable persons. We will never pose a security threat to the football tournament," the owners said.