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Kotla matches in limbo as stadium awaits clearance

Kotla matches in limbo as stadium awaits clearance
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Uncertainty hangs over the holding of the IPL matches at Feroz Shah Kotla grounds in the national capital on 21 and 22 May. A team of Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) is still to clear the stadium for safety preparedness. According to well-placed sources, DDMA has also asked Delhi Police licensing unit to not give permission in the absence of safety clearance. With the spot-fixing scam looming large, it is unlikely that Delhi Police would like to enter into a controversy.

According to DDMA sources, Delhi Police allowed earlier matches during IPL-6 at Feroz Shah Kotla in the absence of safety clearance from the DDMA. The DDMA asked Delhi Police not to grant permission as the fire and other public safety norms have been flagrantly violated. DDMA officials maintained that Delhi Police so far has been not following the advisory issued on safety matters.

An 11-member committee headed by Additional District Magistrate (Central) has been set up by DDMA to inspect Kotla ground on 20 May and assess the level of preparedness for disaster-like situation. On an average, Kotla attracts around 25000 spectators during the IPL matches. ‘The situation becomes disaster prone as caterers are allowed to cook in open on the LPG cylinders,’ said a DDMA official.

‘The conditions under which the IPL matches are held are an open invitation to disaster which could lead to catastrophic situation,’ added the DDMA official. During the previous inspections the DDMA team found deployment of ill-equipped ambulance, which was also unmanned. Despite repeated reminders to Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA), the leaseholder of Feroz Shah Kotla ground to improve safety standards, no action has been taken.

DDMA on 26 April issued a three-page show cause notice to the DDCA pointing out 21 ‘defects’ in the disaster management plan submitted by it. A copy to this effect was also sent to N Srinivasan, the president of Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI). The shortcoming in the DDCA plan included absence of stand wise emergency plans, absence of relief centre and absence of properly delineated medical facility centre. The notice also pointed out that while approving the building plan of Kotla ground, Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) had clearly mentioned that there was a need to develop a number of pedestrian walkways to ensure quick disposal of visitors to and from the stadium. ‘This has not been done by DDCA till date,’ a DDMA official said.
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