A highly ambitious Rs.300 crore BCCI National Cricket Academy (NCA) project in Bangalore has been scrapped and now the NCA headquarters will remain at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in the same city.
This decision has been taken after BCCI failed to get hold of 49.39 acres of land in Devanahalli, near the Bangalore airport, for which it had paid Rs.49.97 crores to the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB).
The NCA is currently running on leased space within the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium following a tie-up with the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA).
The BCCI is now struggling to get its money back, as some people in the Indian cricket setup, like Ajay Shirke, a former NCA Board chairman and Board treasurer, feel it is “almost impossible” to recover the amount from the Karnataka government.
Ratnakar Shetty, general manager (game development), informed a recent working committee meeting that a court of law had stayed the allotment of the land to the BCCI. An official who attended that meeting said that BCCI president N. Srinivasan instructed Shetty to try and now recover the money from the government, signalling the end of the project.
“Srinivasan also informed the house that since the specialist academies are already running in Mohali, Chennai and Mumbai, NCA’s workload could be distributed amongst the four academies. It also meant that the NCA headquarters would remain at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium,” the official told Mail Today.
“At the same meeting, KSCA secretary Javagal Srinath suggested that the BCCI could consider Alur, a place in Hassan district in Karnataka, as an alternate venue for the NCA while Anurag Thakur suggested that facilities at Dharamsala could also be used,” he disclosed.
The Board had entered into an agreement with KIADB, during 2010- 11.
The state-of-the-art NCA project was doomed after some farmers, who had sold their land, petitioned a local court and got a stay against the allotment of land to the BCCI. Interestingly, the land had been allotted to the BCCI and it even received, on December 8, 2011, a final notification under Rule 28(4) of the KIADB Act vide Karnataka Gazette No.KA/ BG- GPO/ 2515/ WPP- 47/ 2009- 2011 pertaining to the allotment of the land.
But, sources said, after some high-end apartments and golf course came up around the earmarked land for the BCCI/ NCA and the land rates shot up, some farmers suddenly had a change of heart. They moved the court and got a stay on its allotment.
This came as a shock to the BCCI. The 2011- 12 annual report of the BCCI says: “The Board is awaiting the allotment of land from the government of Karnataka, which is expected shortly.” Shirke, who resigned as BCCI treasurer on May 30 following disagreements with Board president N Srinivasan over IPL spot-fixing scandal, confirmed that the NCA project has been scrapped.
“It has been cancelled. It is very difficult to get the money back. In India, we all know how difficult it is to get the money back from a government. It looks like it was a waste of money,” Shirke told Mail Today. “It’s a long story. Originally, when Mr Sharad Pawar was BCCI president, the land was earmarked for establishing the NCA at another place near Bangalore. But when a new NCA committee [ after Pawar’s term was over] was installed they wanted the venue changed to Devanahalli, and then we asked the Karnataka government to change the land,” he said.
The BCCI has been on a cost-cutting drive lately, and a source said that the initial NCA budget was around Rs.300 crore.
Later, as tax authorities swooped down on BCCI and wanted it to pay huge amounts as taxes, it was cut down to around Rs.100 crore, as Srinivasan had told Mail Today last year.
Recently, the BCCI trimmed the staff at the NCA and scrapped the post of director (cricket operations).
BCCI was paying more than Rs.1.20 crore annually to Sandeep Patil, the last man who held the director’s post. Two other physiotherapists were costing BCCI over Rs.1 crore annually.