Ahead of its month-long jubilee celebration this December, there is good news for Changampuzha Park, a major cultural landmark of the city, as the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) is set to give it a facelift.
The proposal had found a fleeting mention among the numerous projects worth ₹73.980 crore presented by the GCDA before Chief Secretary V.P. Joy on Saturday. It was listed among the projects to be funded by Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML) though the specifics were missing.
“A major project worth ₹3 crore for the renovation of Changampuzha Park funded by CSML is ready. It is likely to be completed within next March. The announcement will be made shortly. The project will be executed as per a design proposed by the Indian Institute of Architects,” said K. Chandran Pillai, GCDA Chairman.
Not having undergone any major renovation work in the past more than a decade, the proposal hasn’t come a day soon as the renowned facility has been crying out for help for a while. However, Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram (CSK) hopes the proposed project doesn’t lead to commercialisation at the expense of its green cover.
The GCDA had stopped the annual allocation to the park a few years ago, making things even tougher for the park with little avenue for generating own funds other than the life membership fee entailing a one-time payment of ₹3,000.
Things started to look up after Mr. Pillai assumed charge as a monthly allowance of ₹50,000 was sanctioned recently. “Even that is inadequate as the collective expenses against the salary and wages of three staff, power and water charges, and maintenance of diesel generator overshoots the amount. We are relying on diesel generator for conducting events as unexpected power outages during events like dance, Kathakali and drama regularly staged at the park could prove to be a spoiler. We stage functions for free except for the diesel expenses,” said P. Prakash, president of the CSK and its longest serving committee member.
He cited waste disposal, wear and tear of the brick-laid walkway, absence of lights lining the walkway as the three major problems that need to be fixed immediately. Changampuzha Park remains a favourite destination of walkers during mornings and evenings and the prolonged absence of lights has been a major concern. Stage and office building are also in a bad shape for want of periodical maintenance though that hasn’t affected its status as one of the preferred destinations of cultural programmes and exhibitions.
“We have also written to the State government for a recurring grant, which is under consideration and for which a token of ₹2,000 was set apart in the last budget. We have also submitted a detailed income and expenditure statement for the past three years and the fund usage pattern in this regard,” said Mr. Prakash.
CSK is set to organise a month-long cultural fest featuring top artists this December to mark its jubilee. Plans for organising a 15-day annual fest along the lines of Surya Festival is also on the anvil.