Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh government spent Rs.2.36 crore on providing security during Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in the last two years, a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed.
According to information accessed by RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, an expenditure of Rs.2.36 crore was incurred by the state police on providing security during the five IPL matches held in Dharamsala during the past two years.
Bhattacharya said the director general of police office, in its RTI reply to him, has also hailed the hosting of cricket matches, saying they have put Dharamsala on the world tourism map and boosted the state’s economy.
He said his further queries about the steps being taken to recover the IPL dues from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCCI) are shuttling between offices of the home secretary and the director general of police.
“If the West Bengal and Punjab governments are recovering full charges from the BCCI for holding matches in Eden Garden and Mohali stadiums, respectively, then why is this government shirking in getting its dues. The matches are a huge drain on the state’s exchequer,” he claimed.
In this IPL season, two matches will be held May 17 and 19 at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) stadium, located at an altitude of 4,000 feet with the mighty snow-clad Dhauladhar range forming the backdrop. The stadium, about 250 km from Shimla, has a seating capacity of 20,000, besides separate practice areas, a club lounge, restaurant, bar and banquet hall.
Anurag Thakur, cricket administrator and son of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, said: “It’s the duty of the state governments to provide security. In fact, governments are providing security to so many events, even religious ones, then why target cricket alone.”
Opposition Congress chief Kaul Singh, on the other hand, said: “It’s a patently wrong decision not to recover the money from a cricket body which is functioning on corporate lines.”
The debt burden of Himachal Pradesh has increased by Rs.5,140.56 crore over the past four years.
“The debt from January 2008 to January 2012 has increased from Rs.20,173.14 crore to Rs.25,313.70 crore,” Dhumal, who holds the finance portfolio, said in a written reply during the budget session that concluded last month.