If losing the February 12 India-Sri Lanka T20 to Ranchi was not enough, the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) is staring at the prospect of not hosting any of the World T20 matches at the Ferozshah Kotla. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has given the DDCA time till Monday to furnish all the necessary clearances but nothing short of a miracle can help the association pull it off.
The sticking point remains the occupancy certificate from the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and a January 22 letter written by the civic body’s Assistant Engineer (B), Central Zone, to DDCA working president Chetan Chauhan, and which was seen by The Indian Express, reveals the tough road ahead. The letter also lists 60 pointers which show that only a virtual overhaul of the Kotla could help DDCA get the crucial nod.
The letter, written after a joint inspection of the Kotla for re-opening the “Notice of Completion”, lists a “number of shortcomings in the existing structure” and directed the DDCA to “take necessary steps to get the shortcomings removed at the earliest” in order to get the occupancy certificate.
The SDMC stated that most of the shortcomings pointed out to the DDCA are based on safety concerns and must be rectified. “These are mostly non-compoundable issues and the DDCA will have to make these changes, in order to obtain clearance from us,” executive engineer South corporation JS Yadav said.
The letter pointed out that gangways have to be made wider by removing seats, the number of toilets must be increased since food courts are functioning in the space sanctioned for toilets besides width of passages and staircases need to be increased.
A three member committee of the SDMC will take a closer look at these shortcomings on Monday to ascertain whether further inspection is required or not. The corporation has clarified that there is no deadline to carry out the necessary work and “how much time they take is entirely up to the Kotla management to get the complex ready for clearance.”
Chauhan, however, claimed most of the shortcomings mentioned by the SDMC were not acceptable since compounding fee was paid way back in 2010 and all the drawings/plan approved.
“Yes there was an inspection and we did hear them out and read about the shortcomings. But most of these are not acceptable to us since we have already got our drawings approved and paid compounding fees for structures/layout not been adhered to. We have already told them (SDMC) about this and have discussed the same with our architect,” Chauhan said.
The DDCA working president exuded confidence is resolving the matter in time. “There are some normal pointers like water tank, temporary shed and pump house. I’m confident of getting everything in order and can assure sincere effort from our side for the same,” Chauhan added.
A major chunk of the pointers raises concern about the seating arrangements in the stadium. In the ‘Third Tier’, “internal staircase from second tier to third tier has been converted into sitting places against sanction”. In most tiers, the number of seating rows is more than usual and the width of staircases is narrower than sanctioned. If implemented, the remedial measures would have an impact on the capacity of the stadium, the letter pointed out.
Chauhan, though, felt it would not have much of an impact. “First of all these are very basic changes. We would get all of them done in maximum three weeks. Changing row plan and all is very much in control. I know this would affect the holding capacity of the stadium but it won’t be in thousands,” Chauhan observed, adding that the work could be done in “three weeks’ time”.
But given the limited period at his disposal, whether it can translate into Kotla getting to host the World T20 matches remains doubtful. Because unless the DDCA can show the occupancy certificate, it is unlikely the association will get to host matches. And with the Delhi High Court refusing to grant provisional occupancy certificate, resulting in the February 12 T20 international to be shifted to Ranchi, it has only compounded DDCA’s problems.
‘Get your house in order’
Dismissing the DDCA’s plea, the high court bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vibhu Bakhru observed: “It is very clear that we are not going to issue direction for POC. The time till March 31 doesn’t mean that you will hold matches without requisite compliances. Since 2011 this is happening. Before every match you need this order. We will not review the order of November 18, 2015.”
Prior to the India-South Africa fourth Test at the Kotla, the high court had made it clear that DDCA needs to get a permanent occupancy certificate from the SDMC.
“The question of granting of provisional occupancy certificate is ruled out. You (DDCA) will have to get your house in order,” the court said, adding, “We are not concerned with the match. We are only concerned with the safety” after the lawyer for the DDCA argued the February 12 match was “important” for the upcoming series.
The court also refused to entertain a plea that DDCA be allowed to host matches under the supervision of Justice Mukul Mudgal. It noted that there are 60 deviations referred to by the SDMC which the association should try and get right.
The sticking points:
Staircases from second tier to third tier missing in A-Wing
Height of railings not as per sanctioned plan
Toilet blocks converted into food courts
Number of rows of seats increased — 6 against 5 in most Wings
Width of exit at number of places less than sanctioned — 2.55 metres instead of 3.0 metres
Number of rows of seats in corporate boxes more than sanctioned
Width of gangways not as per sanction in most cases
Defective arrangements of seats in some places
Temporary structure and toilet block near outside boundary wall at Gate No. 5