Kelappaji Park waiting for a facelift

The Kelappaji Park at West Nadakkavu in Kozhikode.  

For a new visitor, it may be hard to believe that the poorly kept garden next to the English Church in the city was once a beautiful park. The Kelappaji Park that serves as a traffic island at the English Church Junction and the adjacent ‘English Church Park’, as it is called these days, are victims of mismanagement and neglect.

“The corporation has renovated all the parks in the city over the past few years. Only this one is in such a dilapidated state, thanks to the private agency that had taken up its maintenance,” said P. Kishenchand, former councillor of the Kozhikode Corporation.

The parks used to be one entity earlier before it was cut by a road connecting the Wayanad Road and the Kannur Road. The small triangular strip with a statue of freedom fighter K. Kelappan came to be known as Kelappaji Park and the other larger strip was called the English Church park. They were handed over to an advertisement company from Ernakulam almost ten years ago for maintenance.

“Despite opposition, the then council had handed over the park to the company for seven years, when three years was considered the mandate at the time,” said Mr. Kishenchand. The company could set up advertisements in the park without paying any fee to the corporation while in return it was supposed to maintain the park, create a fountain, make seating arrangements, install television, and employ a watchman. The corporation would pay electricity bills. However, the agency failed to adhere to the contract and the park soon turned into a mass of bushes. Another agency’s attempt to set up a butterfly park there was allegedly thwarted by the first one. “We had requested several times to hand the park over to us. Local people or merchant bodies would have maintained it without incurring any charges to the corporation. But the offer was always declined,” said Mr. Kishenchand. Recently, the upkeep of the park was entrusted with another company, selected through a tender process, for three years. But the new agency too failed to maintain it, and blamed the pandemic for it. “Both the companies have been using the space for advertising, but failed in their duties towards the park,” said Alphonsa Mathew, councillor of the Nadakkavu ward who recently brought the issue to the attention of the corporation council. Even though the council decided to inquire into the matter, no action was taken, she said.

“The park holds a special place in the hearts of locals. Many non-governmental organisations and residents’ associations have come forward expressing their willingness to maintain the park,” said Ms. Mathew.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 9:37:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/kelappaji-park-waiting-for-a-facelift/article35615939.ece

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