Unused international cricket stadium in Dehradun awaits shot in the arm | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Unused international cricket stadium in Dehradun awaits shot in the arm

Unable to run the Rajiv Gandhi Cricket Stadium in Dehradun on its own due to the cost, the Uttarakhand government decided to hand it over to a private operator to maintain it. Three tenders have been floated so far inviting interested private players, but with slow movement of government machinery, final selection of a private operator is yet to be made.

cricket Updated: Jan 10, 2018 12:27 IST
Neha Pant
(File photo) The Rajiv Gandhi Cricket Stadium at Maharana Pratap Sports College in Dehradun (Doon), during its inaugural match in December 2016.
(File photo) The Rajiv Gandhi Cricket Stadium at Maharana Pratap Sports College in Dehradun (Doon), during its inaugural match in December 2016.(Vinay Santosh kumar/HT Photo)

Set against a picturesque backdrop at the foothills, the Rajiv Gandhi Cricket Stadium at Maharana Pratap Sports College in Dehradun – the first such facility in the Himalayan state – witnessed a dream opening ceremony more than a year back, on December 16, 2016. The inaugural match at the venue, a friendly between Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand cricket teams, was attended by star cricketers such as Suresh Raina, Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla.

Nine months prior to its official inauguration, the stadium even played host to a glitzy wrestling event by international wrestler Dalip Singh Rana a.k.a. the ‘Great Khali’ in February 2016, which saw a battery of foreign wrestlers grapple.

Fast forward to 2018 – and the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium – constructed at a cost of over Rs 237 crore, is in a state of disuse.

Located at the Maharana Pratap Sports College at Raipur, the world-class facility boasts of a seating capacity of over 25,000. Spread across an area of 23 acres, the state-of-the-art sporting arena was constructed as per international standards, with fine pitches, high mast lights for day-night matches, swimming pool, corporate boxes, gym, club house and a billiards room among other features.

During its inauguration in December 2016, the then Uttarakhand chief minister, Harish Rawat, claimed the swanky stadium would soon host national and international matches.

Unable to run the stadium on its own due to the large cost involved, the Uttarakhand government decided to hand it over to a private operator to maintain the stadium.

Three tenders have been floated so far inviting interested private players , but with slow movement of government machinery, final selection of a private operator is yet to be made. As a result, the stadium has been lying in a state of disuse for the past one year and continues to await a shot in the arm to make it functional.

“What’s the use of setting up the huge facility in the name of sports when budding cricketers from the state are not getting to use it? The international stadium should be opened for consistent use by players without any delay,” said Anil Dobhal, director of the Uttarakhand Premier League (UPL), an inter-district cricket tournament that gives platform to cricketers from the hill state.

In November last year, UPL organizers urged current chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to allow the league to use the international stadium for hosting its third season, which is scheduled in February this year.

“We are yet to finalize the dates of the tournament as we are still waiting for clarity over availability of the stadium,” Dobhal, who is also the president of Ajabpur Youngstar Cricket Club, said.

When contacted, Prashant Arya, joint director (sports) of the Uttarakhand government, said efforts were being made to speed up the tender process for running the stadium on a public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

“Third round of the tender was completed last year, but some procedural formalities are pending due to technical reasons. We are hopeful that the stadium will become functional soon with the selection of the private partner,” Arya said.

The government will also carry out handover of the stadium from the private construction company that built the stadium to the PPP partner, once the selection process gets over, he added.