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Bending rules for Khanna's commercial tennis venture

sports Updated: Feb 04, 2013 02:00 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times
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The Haryana government is set to approve a proposal for Change of Land Use (CLU) by a private group to set up a commercial tennis academy in a restricted zone meant only for transportation and communication projects in Gurgaon.

The Town and Country Planning Department, Chandigarh, the authority for granting the CLU, is expected to issue its final clearance in a week or so, officials told HT.

This paper has found that the CLU was applied by two companies, RLF and United Leasing Limited, for setting up a National Tennis Academy in 6.85 acres in Jundsarai village, at 14 km stone, Gurgaon-Pataudi Road.

The land belongs to the companies, which are owned by the family of Anil Khanna, president of the All India Tennis Association.

Private land
The plot in question is adjacent to a compound that houses two industrial units, belonging to the Khannas. The National Tennis Academy was earlier set up in the compound, but has now been moved to the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium.

When asked for clarification, Khanna and AITA secretary, Bharat Oza, said the project was not to set up a fresh NTA but to start an international academy and had no links with the federation. Haryana government sources say the whole project is being considered on the premise that it is meant to promote tennis.

For sports academies that come under leisure projects, the floor area ratio (FAR) should be 5% (construction not to exceed five percent of the total area). But the state government has agreed to raise it to as much as 50% for this facility.

"The state government in principal has approved the project and agreed for 50% of FAR. Most likely, the final clearance will be given in the coming week or so," a senior Haryana official told HT under condition of anonymity.

When contacted, Arun Rastogi, Director General and Special Secretary, Town and Country Planning and Urban Estates Department, Haryana, said, "They have applied for CLU for setting up a tennis academy. The case is under consideration and the Letter of Intent (LIO) is yet to be issued."

Aita Denial
In his response to HT on Sunday, Khanna said: "This project is envisaged to build an international tennis academy in collaboration with a foreign academy of big international reputation so as to create an academy of the same level that is seen in USA or Europe."

Khanna went on to add that, "FAR of 50% requested for is also as per rules of the government, as the project will otherwise not be viable. This project has no link with NTA."

Oza, in a separate communication, denied the AITA had anything to do with the academy. "The AITA Executive Committee wishes to inform you that AITA or AITA Trust are not spending any funds on this project."

The moot question is as to just why this project is being cleared with such alacrity when there is purely a commercial angle to it. No government official was willing to come on record to answer why rules are being relaxed in violation of the zone that the area falls in.