Work expected to extend beyond Onam festival season

After an agonisingly slow progress and missing several deadlines, the ongoing renovation of the Putharikandam Maidan at East Fort, has reached the final phase.

The project taken up by the city Corporation is expected to extend well beyond the Onam festival season. Mayor K. Chandrika said it would be difficult to meet the latest deadline of September.

“A number of government agencies have applied for use of the ground to hold sales fairs during Onam. We will have to oblige in view of the festival season though leasing out the ground at this time will effectively put the brakes on the ongoing work and delay the project further,” she said.

The beautification work of the sprawling grounds is into its final phase. The Kumar Group, project designers, has submitted a fresh proposal to create a children's park on the premises. As many as 4.5 acres of the maidan is being landscaped while three acres will be retained as open ground.

The highlight of the project is the creation of a green belt along the periphery with a 750-metre paved walkway winding through trees, flowerbeds and shrubs.

The open ground in the midst of the maidan will be used for holding rallies, exhibitions, and other events attracting large crowds. More than 22,000 metres of underground cable is being laid to supply power to the facilities inside the ground and the temporary exhibition stalls that could be erected.

A project supervisor said the cables would provide power to 72 distribution points for 116 stalls, including 16 air-conditioned booths, to plug in. Efforts were on to operationalise the lights on the maidan in time for the Onam festival season.

The designers have deviated from the original plan to create a pond for collection of the rainwater runoff from the open ground. The proposal has been revised to direct the stormwater into five open wells that will be used to irrigate the plants.

“We decided to do away with the pond because an open water body can lead to dumping of waste in a ground where a large number of people gather,” a spokesman for the designers said.

The Mayor said the children's park, to be located at the south-east corner of the grounds, would be designed as a traffic awareness facility, complete with signal lights, zebra crossings, and tricycles for children to move around. The additional proposal would be submitted to the Corporation for approval.

The construction of an entry plaza, open air stage, public comfort station, pavilions, and concrete benches is almost over. The grounds will have more than 200 trees by the time the project is completed.

The multi-level stage at the eastern end is equipped for mega entertainment events. The main entrance at Pazhavangady has been provided with ticket counters and a queue system.

The project is designed to add a green lung to the city, provide recreation space for citizens, and a well- equipped venue for public meetings and exhibitions.