In a midnight action against the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) headed by Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur, the Congress-led state government took over the state cricket body's properties across the state, including the international cricket stadium and the high-end hotel The Pavilion here.
The move came hours after the state cabinet meeting presided over by chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Saturday night decided to cancel lease deeds of all the lands allotted to the sports body at various places in the state for setting up a stadium and creation of other facilities.
The revenue department had moved the proposal to take over the HPCA properties in the cabinet meeting citing irregularities in the functioning of the cricket body.
The Kangra district administration received the directions from the revenue department to take over the HPCA properties soon after the meeting ended around 10.30pm on Saturday.
A team led by Kangra deputy commissioner C Palarasu reached the cricket stadium around 2am under heavy police protection. Sources said the late-night move to take over the sports body's properties was taken to avoid confrontation with the HPCA members and supporters.
The team comprising additional deputy commissioner Rohan Chand Thakur, additional district magistrate Rakesh Sharma and Dharamsala SDM Harish Gajju entered the stadium premises by breaking open the locks of the main gate as the HPCA security guard refused to open the gates saying the keys were with the cricket body officials.
SDM Gajju and district sports officer Mahender Pratap Bharadiya were jointly given the charge of the stadium for the time being.
HPCA spokesperson Sanjay Sharma reached the spot after the HPCA authorities opposed the move saying the sports body officials were not informed about the decision on time and taking over control of the properties at such an odd hour was uncalled far. He also refused to receive the copy of the takeover orders. The officials told the HPCA official that no activity could be undertaken at the stadium without permission.
Later, the authorities also took over the HPCA's luxury hotel 'The Pavilion' around 3am.
According to information, the government has also taken over other properties of the HPCA, including a stadium and academy in Shimla and Amtar cricket stadium in Nadaun of Hamirpur district.
The Congress government is now contemplating to constitute a committee and appoint an administrator for the HPCA under whose supervision all the activities will take place. The entry of the HPCA officials has also been barred in the stadium and hotel except the pitch curator, and ground and technical staff, during the matches scheduled to be held here.
Assets worth Rs 120 cr
The HPCA has total assets worth Rs 120 crore, including the international cricket stadium, the hotel The Pavilion and other properties across the state. The previous BJP government had leased out land at Dharamsala, measuring 8.1 acres, for the cricket stadium and 88 kanals at Kand where the luxury hotel is located.
Besides, the HPCA was allotted land measuring 10.65 acre at Nadaun, 3.97 acre at Gumma and 3.28 hectares near the Lalpani school in Shimla district.