Spoilsport Shimla MC fumes and frets over a cricket academy

Unable to provide parks to children in the cluttered hill city, the Municipal Corporation is hell bent upon shutting down a cricket academy that budding cricketers have taken to with a frenzy, only to settle political scores.

Not long ago, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had been pushing the Shimla Municipal Corporation to setting up parks and playing areas for children.

Much protesting and contesting went into the cause before an activist court finally got to have big plans drawn up and budgets spelled out, but nothing has come up on the ground.

File Photo: Shimla Municipal Corporation
File Photo: Shimla Municipal Corporation

In between, rightly or wrongly, Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) took over a broken down ground that the government or the municipal corporation had not been able to repair and restore for more than three decades and set up a cricket academy after making much investment into it, thereby adding to the city’s deficient sporting infrastructure.

The ‘Rights’ or the ‘Wrongs’ of HPCA in starting the cricket academy at the old Lal Pani ground could and should be contested in the courts but the hyperactive MC authorities have gone into overdrive by planning to close all access to the academy ground and deny the aspiring cricketers the only such infrastructure available in the city.

Surely it is not the interest of the young players that the Municipal Corporation has in its mind for it in no way can provide an alternative facility for them.

Such negativity lets nothing worthwhile come up and the city infrastructure continues to languish.

Accessing schools, offices and hospitals is getting more difficult by the day; the parks, badminton and tennis courts, grounds and glades that the British colonizers created to make Simla the best municipality in the country have all been encroached upon and vandalized.

The Shimla municipal authorities have argued that the Cricket Academy is an illegal structure and has come up without due approvals from the town planners but so have many other structures and prominent buildings that are standing in blatant violation of the city’s building laws.

The most prominent building constructed in violation of the state building laws being the Himachal Pradesh High Court building itself.

And not to count the Congress Party Office building and several other government and private buildings, which includes several clusters also.

Some weaker individuals, who have built unauthorized structures, have been denied water and electricity connections but the more powerful ones continue to draw upon the MCs civic services without blinking an eyelid.

It’s certainly not a friendly match between the administrators of the cricket academy and the MC authorities being played out there.

On a little higher level, it’s the same game at play over the Dharmshala cricket stadium and the state government authorities.

Frustrated with not being able to create something as symbolically representative of Himachal Pradesh as the Dharmshala Cricket stadium, the powers that be are hell bent upon damaging and destroying an asset that many international players have testified as one of the most scenic grounds in the world.

But petty politics must prevail for the system is obsessed with it.

Any illegality needs to be contested legally not with the brute power of authority. But the powers that be seem intent to crush, destroy and damage, by all means any good work that may have been done by a political rival.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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  1. says: Kenny Chauhan

    Sorry I disagree. The more important qn is the harm to the game of cricket being inflicted by Anurag and his goons. Converting a sports body into a pvt business and property is more serious. So is the system of selections to the teams and academies, these are highly political. We cannot send our children to the academy at Lalpani, they are not selected because their parents, us, do not toe the line. Then the whole administration, HPCA, is captive, with no provision for democratic elections, for all times to come. In a distant future only the sons and grandsons of Anurag can run the show. Or should I say, they will be the owners of the vast tracts of lands belonging to the people of Himachal. This land grab by Anurag and Dhumal ji shows me a criminal mind at work. There is so much more to the story that I can go on and on and on. I’m sorry, but I don’t think that D’sala stadium and Lalpani academy and the like have any value when the very base and the structure on it are faulty and source of corruption. Moreover, I think, this write-up is more an attempt to help your friend, Surinder Chauhan, the Pres of SDCA, rather than an honest expression of views. This is the first time, I have seen you do this. Pls be objective, I’m your fan and friend.

    1. Kenny I appreciate the views expressed.

      There is no intention of trying to help anybody. If HPCA or anybody else has transgressed the law, let them be hauled for it but fight the issue legally not by misusing the brute force of the state.

      Two wrongs do not make a right and if transgression of the law is vetted by a court – the penalty, fine or conviction holds validity otherwise you end up with what the Himachal Pradesh government learn’t the hard way.

      The massive night operation of forcefully taking over the Dharmshala cricket stadium was reversed by a simple court directive.

      What was worse, even grey heads in the cabinet had to eat humble pie and reverse their decision to cancel the lease and further had to restore the possession to HPCA.

      HPCA which was otherwise in the eye of a raging controversy has appeared to have scored against the might of an all powerful government.

      Questions about the democratic functioning of HPCA are very valid ones and the government has let it be known that it intends to amend the law to ensure that public lands leased for sporting infrastructure do not become private properties or sporting bodies don’t become personal fiefdoms.

      Public authorities need to be magnanimous in their approach towards issues like construction of Dharamshala cricket stadium or setting up of a cricket academy in Shimla and not stoop low to hitting below the belt.

      If the functioning of HPCA is not democratic or selection of children to the cricket academy is not fair or transparent as alluded to by your comment, does not mean the state or municipal authorities take to night operations to forcefully overtake the world class sporting infrastructure or as the municipal authority which is reported to have coughed up funds to block a path to the Lal Pani academy premises.

      The night operation on Dharmshala Stadium has already boomeranged and the small time politics being played by Shimla MC is also missing the woods for the trees, something akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  2. says: Gaurav

    As writer has pointed out that legality of issue should be discussed in courts so i do not think that he has any ulterior motive. I think over zealousness shown by MC smack of political vendetta. All of us know that in Shimla construction of many buildings is not above board so pinpointing only one single instance is certainly a case of politics at play. But yes certainly land grab is a issue close to us Himachalis heart and actions of previous government in this matter leave a lot of questions unanswered

  3. says: Rakesh

    Proactive write up. Professionally we seldom see such an agression in mainstream media against top parties due to obvious reasons. Poor comerades with no rising scope.

  4. says: Ramesh

    State ki aur bhi zaroorten hain Cricket ke siwa. I tend to agree with Kenny Chauhan above. A lot of politicking has been going on on this issue , unnecessarily !

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