NCA land deal controversy: Businessman Gurudutt Shanbhag says signature was forged

Businessman Gurudutt Shanbhag had helped BCCI in procuring the land © AFP

New Delhi: Aug 10, 2013

Businessman Gurudutt Shanbhag, whose name has been embroiled in the National Cricket Academy land deal controversy, claimed that he is “completely innocent” and has not signed any document on behalf of cricket board with the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB).

“I am devastated that my name has been dragged unnecessarily in this controversy. I want to put this on record that I have not signed any document on behalf of the BCCI in the purchase of 50 acres of land for National Cricket Academy from KIADB. I believe that any document that has my signature is a forged one,” Shanbhag, a real estate agent, told over phone from Bangalore.

Asked about his interest in the land deal, Shanbhag said, “My only association in this deal is that I own only 2 acres in the said 50 acres of land. Since I owned a small part in that land, I was requested by BCCI to help them out in procuring the land. That’s it.”

He further added, “The money has been paid to KIADB by BCCI. I believe if BCCI approaches KIADB, they will get back the said amount. Where do I come into the picture when I haven’t taken a single penny?

“My prestige is at stake. I want to clarify that I am not a fugitive. I am very much in Bangalore and contrary to reports in some quarters that I have run away with the money, it’s completely false. I have documents to prove that I am completely innocent,” said Shanbhag.

The BCCI, the richest sports body in the country, found itself in a soup over a Rs 50 crore land deal for its cricket academy near Bangalore and questions were raised over it in the recent NCA meeting.

The NCA, located in Bangalore, is a state-of-the-art academy which the BCCI uses to groom talented young cricketers besides serving as a rehab centre for senior cricketers.

The BCCI made a payment of Rs 46.135 crore for this deal in 2010.

Earlier in 2008, BCCI had paid Rs 3.841 crore to Karnataka government for 32 acres of land in Bidadi on the outskirts of Bangalore for building NCA facilities but the deal was called off as it was far away from the international airport and logistical difficulties were taken into account.

Now after having paid nearly Rs 50 crore (Rs 49,97,60,000), BCCI bosses were surprised as to the number of PILs that were filed in the Karnataka High Court. On June 20, the High Court gave its verdict terming the land deal illegal.