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HPCA at loggerheads with govt. over land issue

Sachin Tendulkar with Anurag Singh Thakur president Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association at the HPCA Stadium Dharamsala
Anurag Thakur-led HPCA was given the land to construct its stadium’s parking © IANS

Shimla: Jan 12, 2014

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh bowled a ‘googly’ which has left Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) MP,  Anurag Thakur-led state cricket association, currently at loggerheads with the state government, stumped.

The state government has decided to construct dwelling units for the economically weaker sections on the land that was allocated by the previous BJP state government to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) for constructing its stadium’s parking, officials said Sunday.

The chief minister Saturday laid the foundation stone for building 328 houses under the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Project at a place that was meant for the HPCA stadium, said an official.

BJP leader and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had laid the foundation stone of the stadium’s parking lot Aug 19, 2012, and allocated Rs.2 crore for it.

Dhumal is the father of Thakur, an MP from Hamirpur.

HPCA functionaries said the space allocated for the parking, just 200 metres from the stadium, was the only ideal place located in the stadium’s vicinity.

“There is no other vacant plot near the stadium that can be easily converted into a parking lot. This decision clearly reflects the vindictive attitude of the Congress government towards the HPCA,” said a functionary.

He said the HPCA would challenge the government’s decision in the court.

Official sources said the state and the HPCA have been at loggerheads since the Congress government came to the helm in December 2012.

The state vigilance bureau has filed three cases, including a cheating and misappropriation case, against the HPCA over alleged wrongdoings in allotment of land, which according to revenue records was the common village land, to the sports association for constructing a residential complex for the players near the Dharamsala stadium.

The disputed land, three km from the picturesque international stadium, has been used by the HPCA to build a five-star residential complex called The Pavilion, which has 38 rooms, 32 huts and a high-tech gym.

The land was allotted when Dhumal was in power in the state.

The HPCA has been accused of encroaching upon 3,000 sq m of land of the state sports and youth services department. The encroached portion is located near the main gate of the Dharamsala stadium.

The government in a midnight swoop, Oct 26, cancelled the land leased to the HPCA and took over its assets.

The leases were cancelled on the plea that the HPCA had violated the terms and conditions by converting itself from a society to a company without informing the government.

The state high court later indicted the government for forcible eviction of the HPCA from its stadia and ordered restoration of possession to it.

The row between the state and the HPCA is still pending in the high court, which will next hear the case March 22.

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