Redemption in sight for Parade Ground

A view of Parade Ground in Fort Kochi on Thursday.

A view of Parade Ground in Fort Kochi on Thursday.  

Revenue Divisional Office agrees to fund repairs; fencing around ground to stay to prevent car parking

The Parade Ground at Fort Kochi, which has remained ruined for over two years now, might be restored to its original use as a football field accessible to the football-loving lads in the locality if things go as per plan.

The Revenue Divisional Office has agreed to fund the repairs while the Ernakulam District Sports Council is likely to oversee the work, according to Fort Kochi councillor Shiny Mathew. “The RDO has asked contractors for estimates and we are hoping for the work to be completed before the carnival in December,” she says.

K.J. Maxi, MLA, says that the fencing around the ground will stay to prevent cars from using it as parking area. The ground will be levelled and grass will be put in place in the fenced off area to turn it into a football field. While a preliminary meeting has already been held, another meeting is likely soon to chalk out a concrete plan, he says.

But many such promises have been made and broken, says football coach and Fort Kochi’s legendary ‘football uncle’ Rufus D'Souza.

The ground only needs to be levelled and rolled, he says. Elaborate plans like putting grass in may not work since it will require maintenance. “A ground that was used by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British and was as level as a billiards table has been ruined for no reason at all. My players have to clear the ground of garbage and animals before they can play. A playing ground has turned into what looks like an uneven paddy field,” he rues.

After the Corporation turned the nearby better-maintained Veli ground into a pay-and-use space for associations and clubs, the Parade Ground was the last remaining open field in the area, Mr. D'Souza says.

Both Mr. D'Souza and former Kochi mayor K. J. Sohan concur that the field was destroyed after it was used as a practice ground for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. “The section of the ground that was fenced was raised a few meters above the rest of the ground and rainwater no longer drains out properly. They spent crores of rupees to raise the ground and fence off an open space. Mohammed Hanish [the State government’s nodal officer for the world cup] had promised to restore it after the games,” Mr. Sohan says.

While Mr. Hanish concedes that the ground is ruined, he attributes it to the crowds of the two subsequent Cochin Carnivals. “After the world cup, we withdrew our contractors and stopped watering and grass cutting. We could have taken care of it provided there was local support and sponsorship,” he claims.

The raising of the ground has also affected the adjoining Archaeological Survey of India-protected St. Francis Church.

Since the ground all around the church is now raised, rainwater stagnates in front of the church.

“We manage to clear it but we need a permanent solution. The Corporation will have to fix the drainage since both the road and the ground are at a level above the church. The water can seep into the foundation of the monument and damage its structure,” says K.P. Mohandas, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 11:28:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/redemption-in-sight-for-parade-ground/article29570305.ece

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