ALAPPUZHA: Alappuzha municipality, led by chairman P P Chitharanjan and District Police, led by Superintendent of Police E Divakaran, here are in a pitched battle for the ownership of the Alappuzha recreation ground.
The ground has been part of Alappuzha’s evolution with some of the country’s statesmen like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, EMS, AKG, and Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan, having addressed huge gatherings. The ground has also seen the rise of many sports men who learned the skills playing on it. According to municipal authorities, the ground’ which has 3.3-acres of land near Alappuzha beach was leased to Alappuzha municipality for 99 years when it was part of the erstwhile Travancore Kingdom. “We have valid documents to prove our ownership,” they said.
However, District Police team here claimed that the District Police only have the full ownership of the land which was given by the State Government to them years ago.
“The government had given to the District Police the ground which had over 4 acres of land to the District Police team for our various activities like parade. However, as per the demand of the government, we had allotted around one-acre land for setting up Raja Kesavadas Swimming Poll to the State Sports Council. Now, the ground is fully owned by the Police and nobody has any ownership over it’’ Alappuzha DySP (Administration) Victor Joseph told Express.
“We are going to fence the ground and any organisations or institutions, including Alappuzha Municipality, should seek our permission for conducting their programmes in the ground. We have already erected a board in front of the ground which proves our ownership,” Victor Joseph said.
Meanwhile, Alappuzha municipal chairman P P Chitharanjan told Express that they would soon set up municipality’s board in front of the ground.
“I called the attention of the State Government and the government ensured them that the ownership of the ground will be retained with the municipality.
I have written a letter to Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and he promised me that the police would be evicted from the ground after the bypolls, he said.
“We will not allow anybody to fence the ground and it can be used by any organisation for its activities with municipality’s consent,” chairman said. As per the municipal authorities, it is municipality which pays the land taxes of the ground, which was leased to them on March 1, 1933. However, police said that there was no need to pay the taxes for the ground as it was a government property.
Janasakthi town general secretary Salim Pulimootil said that the ground witnessed the rise of many sports men in various fields like hockey, football.
Local people and organisations could conduct various programmes there sans any problems. However, the police have monopolised the ground for the last three years and at present any organisation which needs to conduct a programme in the ground should approach SP, he said. The present SP who has not a good image among the public, media and his colleagues through his famous rude character is not ready to give consent properly, a social activist said.