KOCHI: P R Sreejesh has undoubtedly proved his worth at the international stage with the Indian national hockey team. However, it is hard to imagine Kerala producing another player of his class in the near future if it does not have the infrastructure to complement the talent pool.
The proposal to construct a new hockey stadium at the Asramam Grounds in Kollam, to resolve this infrastructure crunch, is one that has been around for around a decade. Though the works were fast tracked in 2012 by the National Games Secretariat (NGS), several roadblocks still cast shadows over the 4.7 acre plot.
The 35th National Games authorities had assigned Chennai-based C T Ramanathan Infrastructure Pvt Ltd to carry out the public works in 2011, but the contractor had halted construction owing to financial constraints.
“Finding a new contractor to carry out the remaining works would have made the process very complex. So we had to renegotiate with the constructors and get them back on board,” said R Anil Kumar, coordinator of the National Games Secretariat adding that they are pleased with the progress of work at present.
The stadium to be equipped with astro turf, when completed, will become a part of a select group of arenas in the country that could host international hockey matches along the likes of New Delhi, Bangalore, Patiala and Ranchi.
Construction of a primary structure for the gallery with a seating capacity of 3,000 has been completed and the materials for the synthetic turf has arrived at the site. A complex which includes the players’ changing rooms also has to come up opposite to the grandstand.
But, the need to level the ground before laying the turf is proving to be a stressful exercise for NGS. “There is a low lying area inside the stadium that gets waterlogged during the rain. This can adversely affect the stability of the whole stadium,” said Jacob Punnoose, chief commissioner and principal coordinator, NGS.
The earth filling of the area was delayed as the NGS were awaiting an environmental clearance from the government. “We have already sourced 500 loads of soil to level the area which will reach the site in a few days’ time,” Anil Kumar said.
However with time needed for compacting the soil and then laying bitumen surface before the works on astro turf can begin, the National Games Secretariat are very much on borrowed time as the deadline is fast approaching.