Dharamsala, April 4 IANS | 8 months ago

The tussle between the Congress-led state government and the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), headed by BJP MP Anurag Thakur, has robbed this hill station of Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.

The picturesque HPCA Stadium, overseeing the snowcapped Dhauladhar ranges, had hosted nine IPL matches in the last four seasons but this time Dharmasala hasn't been allotted a single match.

HPCA claim that the state government has refused to provide security for the home-leg of the IPL from May 2. The first-leg, comprising 20 matches, will be played in the UAE from April 16-30 due to the general elections.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had offered the HPCA five IPL matches. HPCA wanted the matches to be held from May 10-14 but the state government flatly refused to provide security.

"This season we failed to get any IPL match," HPCA press secretary Mohit Sood told IANS.

HPCA spokesperson Sanjay Sharma said a request was made to the government to hold matches from May 10 to May 14 since there was eight-day gap between eletions and counting.

"We have approached the government on a number of occasions to provide security and administrative support for hosting the matches but it purposely scuttled our request," he said in a statement.

This week the HPCA suffered another set-back as the state government got sanction to initiate proceedings against former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, also a HPCA's patron-in-chief, for alleged wrongdoing in allotment of land to the cricket body for constructing a players' residential complex near the stadium.

A top investigating official, on the condition of anonymity, told IANS that no sanction has been sought as yet against Dhumal's son Thakur, who is also a BCCI joint secretary.

Eighteen people have been named in the vigilance chargesheet while five were named accused in getting the land allotted. The accused are Dhumal, Thakur, additional chief secretary Deepak Sanan, deputy commissioner Ajay Sharma and additional deputy commissioner Gopal Chand.

The Congress - then in the opposition - had objected to the land allotment.

The showpiece Dharamsala stadium, 250 km from the state capital Shimla, has a 21,600-seating capacity besides a world class indoor stadium comprising video analysis facilities for both bowlers and players, a club lounge, restaurant, bar and banquet hall. The popularity of the venue soared after the nine IPL matches in the past four seasons.

(Posted on 04-04-2014)

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