When thoughts about cricket, also known as ‘a gentleman’s game’, arise, a hurricane of emotions flood our nostalgic minds. In India, cricket is not just a game, it is a religion. People, old and young, irrespective of their caste, class, creed or religion gather at stadiums like a swarm of bees to watch their idols play. The cricketers playing for the country are given immense respect, besides being praised and worshipped. Quite ironic in nature is the fact that cricket is loved and watched much more than our national game, hockey. Cricket was introduced to us by the Britishers and now is deeply rooted in our daily lives. Currently, this game is played by all the commonwealth countries which were once ruled by the Britishers.
As far as the concept of funding and investment is concerned, it is said that sponsors are readily available and willing to invest in cricket than any other game. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is considered the richest sports body. Further, it is quite noticeable how the government promotes cricket. Through this sport, the governments, both at the centre and the state, gain immense income in the form of entertainment tax, service tax which is either paid by the cricketers or the BCCI itself, tax levied from the tickets and indirectly from the sponsors etc. With all the investments in hand, the BCCI along with the government, builds numerous stadiums and does other developmental activities to enhance the standard and quality of the sport in India. There are almost 52 internationally recognised stadiums in India. India has also been ranked as the best international venue. Another recent addition to the proud list of stadiumsis the construction of the world’s largest stadium in Motera, Gujarat.
The Gujarat Cricket Association has been working hard towards the success of this project since the beginning of 2017. The soon to be pride of the country can accommodate almost 1.10 lakh fans and the cost of construction of this stadium is almost Rs. 700 crores. Mr. Parimal Nathwani, a member of parliament, states, “The construction work is going on in full swing as per the schedule and we expect the stadium to be ready within the stipulated time period. The stadium will add one more attraction to Ahmedabad.” The stadium consists of 3 practice grounds, an Olympic size swimming pool, an indoor cricket academy, a clubhouse with a ground spread over approximately 63 acres of land.
The thought of possessing the world’s largest cricket stadium in our country is indeed a matter of pride for each one of us. But is our pride turning us blind to the grave reality of the truth behind the land acquired for the construction? It was reported that the UPCA, i.e the UP Cricket Association, had acquired 34 acres from farmers in Morti village at a cost of Rs 80 crores. According to the earlier plan, about Rs 400 crore was to be spent for developing the stadium. This fact is quite shocking and sad as authorities have indirectly acquired lands from the already struggling farmers and peasant communities just for the sake of possessing a tag of the largest stadium in the world. India is a country with increasing population and diminishing space to accommodate the entire population. Will this stadium that accommodates 1.10 lakh spectators, displace even more people from their homes in the future years?
In our country, as stated earlier, cricket is truly loved. Be it social media posts or dance steps on the ground, be it T20 or IPL, cricket has always glued its audience to the screen. But today, when information is accessible and live scores are just a tap away, the story behind the stadiums and not just the sport is evidently understood. Hence, awareness and adaptation are the key to the growth of the sport, which should not be at the cost of any form of loss to any community at any point of time.
Picture Courtesy- Business Today