Tight-squeeze Mohali to throw open doors
Residents of Mohali, the venue for the World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan which is being swamped by fans, journalists, celebrities and politicians, have been urged to throw open their homes to fans from both sides of the border.chandigarh Updated: Mar 29, 2011 09:37 IST
Residents of Mohali, the venue for the World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan, were on Monday urged to throw open their homes to fans from both sides of the border.
The sleepy northern town, located on the outskirts of Chandigarh, the capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana, is being swamped by fans, journalists, celebrities and politicians.
The pressure on hotel space will become more acute with at least 250 VIP guests expected to come from Pakistan, on top of the 100-member delegation that will accompany Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
"It is a big moment for Punjab. The excitement for the match is more than what would be seen at the final," Punjab's deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal told reporters.
"I have personally reviewed the arrangements, and accommodation is a problem. We appeal to the people to spare at least one room in their houses for the guests.
"We have set up a special control room, anyone who wants to give away a room can register themselves.
"Officers of the Punjab government are taking the lead and have already offered rooms as a starting point. We expect our people to come forward and show their warmth."
Punjab Cricket Association chief Inderjit Singh Bindra said the board was going out of its way to accommodate fans from across the border by issuing complimentary passes.
"There were requests from Pakistan for tickets once their team made it to the semi-final but it was not possible to do that at such short notice because of visa and other issues.
"So we decided to give away 250 complimentary passes which had been allocated to PCA members."
Bindra, also a principal advisor to the International Cricket Council, brushed aside criticism that fans were being short-changed among all the hype surrounding VIPs and politicians.
"All tickets were sold off within a day of going on sale," he said. "We cannot everday stand outside the stadium and tell the fans that. They must realise that the stadium cannot accommodate everyone.
"We are not giving preference to governors, film stars or any other celebrity.
"For us the biggest celebrities are the players, former greats like (Sunil) Gavaskar and Kapil Dev."
The semi-final will be played at the PCA Stadium on Wednesday.