International cricket stadium in Dehradun awaits shot in arm

Dehradun’s Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, which was made at a cost of ₹237 crore, has been lying in a state of disuse in the absence of a private partner to maintain and run the facility

dehradun Updated: Jan 10, 2018 18:04 IST
Neha Pant
Neha Pant
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand News,cricket,cricket stadium
A panoramic view of the state-of-the-art sporting arena in Dehradun.(Vinay S Kumar/HT File Photo)

Set against a picturesque backdrop at the foothills, the international cricket stadium in Dehradun – the first such facility in the Himalayan state – witnessed a dream opening ceremony on December 16, 2016.

The stadium’s friendly inaugural match between Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand teams saw the likes of star cricketers Suresh Raina, Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla in attendance.

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

Fast forward to 2018 – and the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium – which was made at a cost of ₹237 crore, has been lying in a state of disuse in the absence of a private partner to maintain and run the facility.

Located at Maharana Pratap Sports College in the state capital’s Raipur area, the world-class facility boasts of a seating capacity of over 25,000 people.

Spread across an area of 23 acres, the state-of-the-art sporting arena has been made 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, then chief minister Harish Rawat had claimed that the swanky stadium would soon begin hosting matches of national and international repute.

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

Three tenders have been floated so far inviting interested private players for the purpose, 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 virtual disuse since 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.

The UPL organisers in November last year urged chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to allow them to use the international stadium for hosting the UPL’s third season, which is proposed in February this year.

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

When contacted, Prashant Arya, joint director (sports), said efforts were being made to speed up the selection 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 was over, he said.

First Published: Jan 10, 2018 18:04 IST