Land acquisition for the Kochi Metro Rail project is likely to cost the already neglected national game of hockey its sole facility in the district.
District hockey administrators and former players are shocked at the anticipated loss of the field at Maharaja’s College, the only full length hockey field in the district.
About 13.5 cents towards the southern end of the Maharaja’s College ground will be acquired for the Kochi Metro. A metro rail station is likely to come up on the acquired site on M.G. Road.
Hockey Ernakulam on Friday launched a signature campaign to draw attention to how the loss of the field would affect the future of the game in the district. Former Judge of the Supreme Court V.R. Krishna Iyer launched the campaign at his residence.
The signatures collected will be handed over to the District Collector who will hold a discussion with the hockey fraternity on Saturday.
Anil Thomas Koshy, secretary, Ernakulam Hockey, said the acquisition of land would take away almost half the hockey field. “To compensate the loss of land and thereby the field, it should be shifted towards the western end of the ground near the college hostel,” he said.
Hockey India has also suggested that an artificial hockey turf of international standards be set up, using the more than Rs.7 crore that the college would get as compensation for the land given up. Such a turf could be set up at a cost of about Rs.3 crore, in which case it would be the State’s first such facility.
Sunil D. Emmatty, former captain of Kerala hockey team, said the loss of the field would deprive the district of the only facility fit to organise tournaments. At present, the field is being extensively used by the team of Maharaja’s College and for conducting summer hockey camps.
He said Hockey India — whose president Mariamma Koshy is one of the signatories — had pledged all support, including financial assistance, to set up the hockey turf. But the ideal situation would be to lay the turf using the proceeds from the compensation, as it would help keep the field an exclusive asset of the college. The fund for maintenance could be raised by renting out the space beneath the gallery and through supplementary facilities such as health clubs and dormitories, Mr. Emmatty said.
P.T. Sellen, head of the Physical Education Department, said the college was not in favour of losing the field. “The college has produced national players like Dinesh Naik in the past. The present State team also has two to three players from the college,” he said.