KOCHI: With less than three weeks remaining for the FIFA U-17 World Cup to begin, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) has urged the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) and the state government to get their house in order. The LOC has increased the pressure on the local stakeholders after the long-standing issue of evacuating shops in the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium drew the flak of the Kerala High Court. The High Court on Friday asked the GCDA to clarify on the issue of compensation for traders running shops in the stadium if they were to suspend trading activities as part of security arrangements for the world cup to be held at six cities in the country, including Kochi, from October 6 to 28.
After the court had made its observation on a bunch of petitions filed by a group of affected shop owners, the LOC, with Chilean Javier Ceppi as tournament director, asked the state and the GCDA to find a solution at the earliest. “We are aware that currently there are legal proceedings in the High Court of Kerala between the GCDA and various individuals engaged in running commercial activities on the premises of the JNI Stadium in Kochi,” the LOC said in a press release.
“This is a matter between GCDA and the individuals concerned, and we hope that a suitable resolution for both parties can be arrived at. We have a contract with GCDA regulating the use of the JNI Stadium for the FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament and we have been given assurances by the government of Kerala that all contractual commitments and obligations will be respected.” Meanwhile, GCDA chairman C.N. Mohanan said they are prepared for a crisis situation as they await the court verdict in the matter on Saturday.
“If the court wants us to provide compensation it shouldn’t be a problem,” he said. “The district collector has Rs 50 lakh in reserve should the issue of compensation arise.” Owing to security concerns, Fifa had insisted every shop in the stadium, numbering in excess of 300, be shut down for at least for one month. The governing body of world football had notified the matter to the local administration in early 2015.