Finance minister Arun Jaitley is on the target of Aam Aadmi Party, which runs the government in the city, for what it believes irregularities in the construction works carried out in Feroz Shah Kotla stadium owned by the DDCA, of which the BJP leader was the president between 2004 and 2013.
The accusation and counter-accusations between the BJP and the AAP have raised a political storm, engulfing what is perhaps Delhi’s first successful story of building a modern stadium without any public expenditure.
Until 2004, the DDCA was managing with a stadium that was in a shambles. The process to give Delhi its own modern cricket stadium started when Jaitley took over that year. But from where would have such huge sum of money come? Those days the BCCI would only pledge a paltry Rs. 4 crore for renovating a stadium.
A medium pacer that he was in college and school days, Jaitley knew he needed a steady start before he could gain speed for the delivery.
The DDCA had made up his mind to taking baby steps. A decision was taken to build 43 air conditioned boxes having 30 seats each that could be leased to big corporates for 10 years for Rs. 1 lakh per seat.
Several corporate houses came forward and DDCA had Rs. 13 crore in its account to realise its dream of its own modern stadium with a seating capacity of 43,000.
Once money started pouring in through other means, the DDCA could convince corporate giants like ITC and Tata to buy two ends for `7 crore. Money kept coming to DDCA in the form of advertising rights, signage and leasing out different corners of the stadium.
At least Rs. 35 crore were mopped-up with these measures.
An impressed BCCI too decided to offer a Rs. 50 crore infrastructure subsidy. By now, the construction work had got its wings and a government company — the Engineers Projects India Limited — was engaged, through competitive bidding, to build the stadium.
In the end, cricket lovers in Delhi had their own swanky stadium for just Rs. 114 crore – much less than Rs. 900 crore spent on renovation of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium or the `400 crore for the Major Dhyanchand Stadium with less than half of the seating capacity.
So, while men in khadi debate whether or not government in Delhi — which does not have a full statehood — or its chief minister without portfolio can institute a commission of enquiry, without having powers to do so, into what he believes is a financial irregularity, crickets lovers can be rest assured of some interesting cricketing clashes inside their very own stadium.