There is uncertainty over three Kings XI Punjab matches for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after the office of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) was sealed for non-payment of taxes on Thursday.
The MPCA office is situated in Indore’s Holkar Stadium, which is scheduled to host Kings XI matches against Rising Pune Supergiants on April 8, Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 10 and Mumbai Indians on April 20. The Holkar Stadium last hosted an IPL match six years ago.
Considering the state association was an integral part of the planning process for the matches, the first of which takes place in just a week, there is doubt over whether the preparations will go over smoothly.
Two cabins of the MPCA office were sealed by the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC), along with two of the eight gates of the stadium, as the state association had failed to pay property taxes amounting to Rs 29 lakh.
Supposedly, there was debate over the appropriate tax that was to be charged to the state association.
MPCA believes it should pay Rs 7.40 lakh as property tax which it has been doing since the financial year of 2010-11. However, the municipal corporation claimed that the playing surface of the stadium had not been declared in previous financial years and the IMC estimates that additional taxes had to be levied since it was to be considered as area used by MPCA for commercial gain.
The IMC exempts from tax the areas of the stadium which are open to the general public for recreational use. However, since the playing field of the stadium is not open to the public and only to host cricket matches, it is to be considered a “commercial venue” according to the IMC.
The MPCA alleges that it was asked to pay the huge sum after the IMC’s assessment of the stadium on Wednesday. However, since it is an institution, it could not make the entire payment without clearance of a board meeting.
With the financial year 2016-17 ending on March 31 (Friday), the IMC claimed it had little choice but to seal the offices until the payment was made. The offices were sealed on Thursday afternoon.
The corporation’s stand
IMC deputy commissioner (revenue) PS Solanki, who headed the team which sealed the two cabins, including that of MPCA chief executive officer, and two of the eight entry-exit gates of the stadium, said: “A significant part of the property has been sealed owing to non-payment of property tax worth Rs 29 lakh due for the 2016-17 financial year,” IMC deputy commissioner of revenue PS Solanki was quoted as saying by the New Indian Express.
“They sought 15-day time to pay the Rs 29 lakh property tax, but with the financial year coming to close on Friday, we’d no option but to seal part of the stadium. The MPCA has a day to make the payment.”
“The sum of Rs 7.4 lakh being paid annually by MPCA since 2011 is not property tax, but payment for basic services taken from the IMC.
“Also, with the Holkar Stadium not being a free playground for commoners, but a commercial cricket match venue, it is not exempt from payment of property tax.
“When the MPCA failed to self-declare the 1.61 lakh sq ft cricket turf as commercial venue, we performed a survey on Wednesday and calculated the tax payable for the entire stadium, including the sprawling cricket turf,” Solanki added.
What the MPCA says
“Since 2011, the MPCA has been annually paying Rs 7.4 lakh to IMC as property tax at IMC’s behest only. The last payment of Rs 7.45 lakh was made to the IMC on May 12, 2016.
“Suddenly, on Wednesday, an IMC team surveyed the stadium and sent us two notices the same evening, one demanding Rs 18 lakh as tax and the other stipulating payment of Rs 29 lakh as tax,” said Rohit Pandit, CEO of the MPCA.
“Even before we could decide anything in the matter, the IMC team arrived at the stadium at 12.30 pm on Thursday and asked us to make the Rs 29 lakh payment promptly.
“As MPCA is an institution which needs to clear such a huge payment only after a proper board meeting, we sought a fortnight’s time to make the payment.
“But the IMC officials refused to give us time and sealed two cabins and two gates of the stadium just half an hour later,” he added.
MPCA secretary Milind Kanmadikar expressed that preparation for the IPL matches would stall because of this development. The Kings XI Punjab operational team and a BCCI team are believed to be in Indore for the preparations.
“Such an action is bound to hamper our preparations and also give a rude jolt to die-had cricket fans awaiting the return of IPL to Indore,” Kanmadikar said.