Hyderabad: As the Hyderabad Cricket Association continues its unstable journey, lurching from one crisis to another, it is now a matter of conjecture where and how it will all end. The latest predicament has arisen from the fact that the Telangana High Court has refused to stay the proceedings in the ACB court against the top officials of the HCA as reported in leading dailies today.
Among those named in the case are former Secretary Shivlal Yadav, former President Arshad Ayub, and officials D.S. Chalapathy, Naresh Sharma, John Manoj, P. Yadagiri and several others.
“The petitioners have to face trial and prove their innocence. Prima facie there are serious allegations against the petitioners herein,” Justice K. Lakshman is quoted to have said. The charges are about corruption in connection with the works undertaken during the construction of the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Uppal.
According to a former official of the HCA who prefers to remain anonymous, the corruption that has been unearthed till now is only the tip of the iceberg. Much more remains under the surface and only after a complete and thorough investigation is done, the full extent of the malpractices will be revealed.
He says that all office bearers of the association right from 2002 till the completion of the stadium, were involved and have taken their cut out of the deals and contracts. “It is not surprising that today the HCA coffers are at rock bottom. Even the Andhra Cricket Association, which is our less famous neighbour, has a better bank balance than us,” he said.
According to information available, the misdeeds began when the construction of the stadium was started and continued as long as the work was in progress. The construction cost which was initially estimated at Rs 31 crore kept shooting up till it eventually reached a mammoth Rs.108 crores. Even if the rising cost of raw materials is factored in, the rise was abnormal.
For every aspect of the stadium’s structure, from installing seats to floodlights and the canopy, contracts were given in a questionable manner and involved massive financial transactions which were invariably inflated. The official is sure that vast kick backs were involved.
Even for the corporate boxes located inside the premises of the RG stadium, there were cuts involved. The amount of money that has been siphoned off is mind boggling. Now, a total of 34 names of individuals and outside agencies like Nagarjuna Construction Company and some architects are all caught up in the net of investigation.
The malady is so deep rooted and widespread that it may take the Anti Corruption Bureau a fairly long time to unravel the full extent of corruption. In the process, a few may be able to prove their innocence and get exonerated of the charges but it is quite certain now, after today’s court verdict, that the big fish will not be allowed to get away. One can sense a determination and direction in the way the law is moving.
According to the former official, the media has played an important role in bringing the case to its present level. Had it not been for the regular media exposure of malpractice in the HCA, the verdict of the court may have been otherwise.
“The judges are also reading the daily media reports. They are coming to know what is going on and the way different parties are blaming each other.
The media have increased the awareness among all sections of the population about the HCA’s misdeeds and infighting. So the court is not in favour of staying the proceedings.”
“It is a further slide down the ladder for the HCA which was founded in 1934 by a respected body of citizens who took up office. They must be turning in their graves today,” he concluded.
Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects.