Several ex-students of the College of Veterinary Science, Khanapara on Wednesday expressed strong displeasure over the destruction of their playground due to endless non-sporting activities during the last few years.
The picturesque playground in the southern periphery of Guwahati city, which once produced some of the finest cricketers of Assam, is in shambles as the Assam Agricultural University (AAU) have been letting it out for political meetings, exhibitions and even religious congregations.
Series of political meetings resulted in destruction of playing zone of the playground. The international standard twin cricket was destroyed due to earth fillings, and concrete blocks were also laid in the cricket outfield, making it totally unfit for sports.
Continuous movement of heavy vehicles, ferrying construction materials of pandals of non-sporting activities have ruined the lush-green grass. Footballers often injure ankles as the spikes of the boots don’t get any grip in the rock-hard football turf.
Very few football enthusiasts, who still use one small portion of the playground for practice, often get cut injuries due to the nails and other sharp objects left behind by the construction workers of the pandals erected for political meetings and exhibitions.
Political parties, over the years, have demolished the boundary walls at several places to make easier passage for the crowd. The AAU authorities complained that the organisers of the political events demolished the walls without any approval, and have not restored them despite repeated requests.
The AAU authority, which is dependent on the state government for salary and development funds, is apparently caught in a state of helplessness over the playground. While the state government takes over the playground for all major official programmes, one police barrack has also come up in the playground.
The series of news-reports by Northeast Now on the destruction of the playground of the College of Veterinary Science woke up a large number of ex-students, and they registered strong protest on the issue.
Ankur Hazarika, a brilliant cricketer, who grew up practising at the playground, is now based at Offa in Nigeria, and was one of the first amongst the ex-students to register his protest. “I am shocked to see the present state of the playground,” he said, adding that the playground was always a source of inspiration for all budding players in southern periphery of Guwahati city.
“Everyone who practised with us dreamt of becoming a Tendulkar-like cricketer,” Hazarika said, adding the present students of the College of Veterinary Science are missing the thrilling games of cricket and football, which always revolved around the playground.
Gurgaon-based Microbiologist, Tarani Kanta Barman was in the Khanapara campus of AAU recently to deliver a speech. “I visited the campus after a gap of 10 years, and was thrilled to see the development of infrastructure,” he said, adding that the videos and pictures of the playground in the media were shocking.
Barman, a doctorate in Nano-Technology from IIT Delhi, requested the Vice-chancellor to use his executive power to restore and further improve the playground. “The AAU authority should take a strong step in this regard and ex-students will stand by the authority to against all political parties provided they display their sincerity in this regard,” he said.
“Political parties come and go, and they are least committed to protect or preserve playgrounds,” Barman said, adding that everyone should now join hands to ensure that all non-sporting activities are banned in the playground.
Nayan Das represented Assam as a dashing volley-ball player during his student days in the College of Veterinary Science at Khanapara. “Government of Assam should take appropriate measures to repair the playground instead of involving in unnecessary debate on the issue,” he said.
Das is now based at Malegaon in Maharastra. “It is the responsibility of the state government to ensure that playgrounds across Assam are maintained properly, and should not allow anyone to destroy them,” he added.
Mrinal Deka, another ex-student of the premier veterinary college said it is shocking to see that the AAU authority has been using the picturesque playground as a money-making machine. “How can the authority rent out the playground for non-sporting activities?”
Deka is based in Rangia, and after passing out of the College of Veterinary Science, Khanapara decided to join politics. “I don’t understand as to why the students of the college are not taking up the issue with the state government,” he said.
Joy Dey, a veterinarian based in Berhampur of West Bengal said he has no words to express the sorry state of the playground. He blamed both the AAU authorities and the College of Veterinary Science Students Union for the devastation of the playground. “I don’t know how Rupjyoti Dutta, the General Secretary of the students union could say that there is nothing wrong with non-sporting activities in the playground,” he said.
Dey, a 1992-batch student of the College of Veterinary Science said the General Secretary must be under some kind of a pressure to make such a comment on the playground. “He doesn’t deserve to lead a students’ body,” he said.
Almost every ex-student, during the last few days, has been closely following the series of media reports published by Northeast Now on the playground. The reports were shared in all the social media groups, and everyone openly deliberated on the issue.
Will the AAU authority wake up to face the challenges to protect the playground? Or, will it continue to lie low and witness the certain death of the finest playground of Assam?