Kottayam: It was inaugurated amid much fanfare a year ago, but the multipurpose indoor stadium at Nagambadom in the heart of Kottayam town has been kept locked till now, thanks to the long-drawn turf war between the bureaucracy and political masters.
The Rs 10.80-crore stadium, which houses dedicated courts and facilities for games including volleyball, handball, basketball and badminton, was the result of the joint effort of the State and Central governments.
When it was dedicated to the nation in February 2016, the office-bearers of the District Sports Council and local politicians had claimed that the facility would emerge as a hub for major national sporting events, but not a single major tournament was conducted thereafter.
Former sports minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan was instrumental in the construction of the state-of-the-art facility. Of the total cost of Rs 10.80 crore, the Center allocated a fund of Rs 6 crore on the request of Jose K. Mani MP, while the State government provided the rest of the amount.
The work on laying the wooden flooring, material for which was imported from Germany, was completed four months ago at a cost of Rs 3 crore. Now it is feared that the flooring would lose its sheen and grip due to lack of activities.
The facility is yet to receive a building number from the municipality, a pre-requisite for getting power and water connectivity. It is a simple procedure, but the authorities concerned are allegedly delaying the clearance due to non-payment of bribe. Silly reasons such as minor construction flaws were cited by the official concerned for rejecting the requests submitted by the stadium’s caretakers during the past eight months for obtaining a building number. The same official is now being placed under suspension on charges of dereliction of duty.
It is mandatory to obtain clearances from the Fire and Rescue Services Department before occupying the building. But it is alleged that the District Sports Council has not bothered to submit a request seeking approval. Vested interests with ulterior political motives are delaying the process, sources said.
Moreover, the foul smell emanating from the open sewage passing along the road on the rear side of the stadium has also become a major headache for the stadium administrators.
No clear answer has emerged to questions regarding the files pertaining to the construction of the stadium. It is learnt that the building plan and the one approved by the Town Planner were different. In a bid to obtain sanction for the ‘wrong plan’, the official concerned sent it to higher authorities in Thiruvananthapuram and washed off his hands.
Then came another serious issue. A complaint that the building had no compound wall surfaced from nowhere. The amount required for the construction of the wall had already been allotted. Now, the authorities are busy preparing a fresh proposal seeking funds for the same.
It is obvious that the entire procedure from the scratch will lead to further delay in opening the stadium.