Following the acquisition of a portion of Maharaja’s College ground for the Kochi metro, the district administration has decided to take up with the State government the demand for the relocation of the college’s hockey field and allocation of funds for an Astroturf.
This was after district hockey administrators and former players met District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareeth on Saturday and raised the issue of the possible loss of Ernakulam’s only full-length hockey field.
On Friday, Hockey Ernakulam had launched a signature campaign to demand relocation of the field and financial assistance to lay an Astroturf.
The acquisition of about 13.50 cents on the southern end of the college ground for a metro station is likely to take away half of the hockey field. Hockey Ernakulam has demanded the relocation of the field to the western end of the ground near the college hostel.
They have also demanded that Rs.3 crore of the Rs.7 crore compensation be set apart to lay an Astroturf.
“Funds from the compensation cannot be allotted without the State government’s consent,” said Mr. Pareeth, who is the chairman of Maharaja’s college development committee.
Sunil D. Emmatty, former captain of the Kerala hockey team, said the talks helped being to the collector’s notice that land to be acquired was not lying abandoned, but was an actively used hockey field.
P.T. Sellen, head of the Physical Education Department of the college, said an Astroturf, complete with flood lights, had to be set up after the relocation. He said this could easily done if Rs.5.50 crore was earmarked from the compensation amount.
“It’s just a fraction of the huge investment being made for the metro. If the proposal materialises, it will be big asset to the State’s sports infrastructure,” he said.
The Thottakkat Royal Family had allocated 16.50 acres to the college during its golden jubilee in 1925 when lack of space earmarked for a playground threatened to deprive the college of the Madras University affiliation.
The land was given on the condition that it would be used as a playground and nothing be constructed that blocked the view of the ground from M.G. Road, said Mr. Emmatty.
“When a portion of the ground is acquired, the compensation should be used to restore sports facilities and not to set up a library or hostel as being planned in some quarters,” he said.
T. Narayanan, a member of the Thottakkat Family, who retired as the head of the Chemistry Department of the college, said the lost land would have to be replaced. Acquisition of land for Kochi metro was understandable, but it was equally important to have playgrounds, he said.