KOCHI: Even as the FIFA-sponsored installation of an artificial turf at the Ambedkar ground is nearing its completion, the development of the ground’s allied facilities, such as the pavilion and dressing rooms, promised by the GCDA is still stumbling in its inception stage.
The GCDA project was announced at almost the same time when the Kerala Football Association publicised FIFA’s willingness to develop the Ambedkar ground as part of its ‘Win in India, with India’ initiative - a project that aims to lay basic footballing infrastructure in select pockets in India where the game is popular.
Both the projects were announced at a function presided by Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan in July last year.
While FIFA promised to spent the entire amount of Rs 5 crore for laying the artificial turf, the GCDA, at the public function, had announced that it would allocate Rs 30 crore to build the allied facilities. However, GCDA has not taken the project any further than airing the promise. Meanwhile, FIFA facilitated the laying of the artificial turf and almost finished the work within a year.
The international football body assigned an Italian company, Syncots, to install the synthetic grass and sent its representatives at regular intervals to ensure that the work was done in a time-bound and stipulated manner.
There is a visible change to a portion of the once-decrepit Ambedkar ground. It now sports a green sheet of artificial grass over an enclosed rectangular plot of 112X78 m in dimension at around the centre of the ground. If weather permits, the remaining works - adhering the green sheets to the ground, fixing the drainage system and raising the now-slanted grass blades by pouring silica and rubber granules above them - will be completed within the next two months.
On the other hand, the rest of the ground is still the old bushy mess of uneven overgrowth, where the GCDA has proposed to erect a pavilion, dressing room and toilets.
The problem, according to GCDA chairman N Venugopal, is the sanctioning of a building permit, which has been pending for the last one year.
At present there are a few shops running beneath an old pavilion in disuse at one side of the ground. As per the GCDA’s plan, Venugopal said these shops will have to be shifted and built into the base of the proposed pavilion. For that, the GCDA has to obtain a building permit from the Kochi Corporation.
“The Corporation officials have been sitting on our request for the past one year, citing that the parks and playground norms, prohibits new construction in such spaces.”
Meanwhile, the Kerala Football Association is planning to erect some removable structures to serve as pavilion and dressing room complex at another end of the ground, due the delay in the implementation of the GCDA project.
“Soon after the synthetic turf is laid, we will erect a makeshift pavilion and other structures at a cost of Rs 50 lakh,” said KFA secretary P Anilkumar, who added that the GCDA had prepared an estimate of Rs 30 crore for the development of the allied facilities based on the suggestions given by the Kerala Football Association.