KOCHI: At a time when football fervour grips the entire state, here is a football ground in the picturesque Nayarambalam which cries for development, despite being very much in demand. The Nayarambalam panchayat ground, the lone playable space in the whole Vypeen island, is relegated into a parking area, despite a mini-stadium planned on it. The ground has hosted several football tournaments over the years. Though former minister and local MLA S Sarma announced a 27-lakh mini-stadium project that will transform the ground into a football facility, nothing happened even after five years. As blame game over the delay in executing the project goes on, aspiring footballers in the locality find themselves at the receiving end.
While the Nayarambalam Panchayat authorities are doing nothing to stop the ground from turning into a parking ground, the MLA blames it on the unavailability of contractors.
"I had allocated 27 lakhs for the mini-stadium from my Area Development Fund long back. But, what keeps the project in limbo is the unavailability of a contractor to take it up. The construction materials for the entire Vypeen area comes from Angamali, Ayyambuzha and Mookkannoor. But, they do not get additional conveyance cost. Most of the time, no one turns up during the tender process," said S Sarma MLA.
Echoing a similar sentiment, panchayat officials blame it on conveyance issue. "For the past two years, Vypeen is badly affected by the unavailability of contractors to execute several projects. The mini-stadium project is one among them. We met Local Self Government Minister A C Moideen yesterday to remove the deadlock and are hoping for a better outcome," said E P Shibu, president, Nayarambalam grama panchayat.
Surprisingly, the ground is not yet a part of Kerala State Sports Council's 'a stadium in each panchayat' project which allocates up to Rs 5 crores for a such a facility. "Many grama panchayats and municipalities have availed our funds and developed their sports facility. But, we haven't received any request from Nayarambalam panchayat or the local MLA to develop the ground," said T D Dasan, president, Kerala State Sports Council.
However, residents of the area think there is something fishy. "We have been hearing about this ambitious plan for a long time. Other than regular announcements, nothing has happened so far. We doubt corruption from all stakeholders," said a resident of the area.
On the other hand, Seven Arrows Football Academy, the district branch of Sports and Education Promotion Trust, renowned football academy network in the state, has been utilising the ground for a long time despite its poor condition. "We were the Ernakulam district champions in the U-12 category and have represented the district in Kerala Football Association's tournament. If the children get a better facility, the results will also be better," said Subeesh, a representative of Seven Arrows Academy.