CHENNAI: The Indian Railways’ decision to hand over the sports stadium of the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and 14 other stadiums to Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) has received stiff resistance from a section of ICF employees.
RLDA is tasked with generating revenue for the railways by leasing out parcels of railway land. It is also engaged in developing major stations in partnership with private companies.
The ICF stadium, which has hosted many divisional, zonal, and national-level sports events, should not be rented or leased out to private players, said several ICF unions. General Secretary of LPF (ICF) V Muralidharan said: “The ICF ground has an athletics track, a hockey field, and a cricket ground. In the past, many Ranji-Trophy cricket matches and national-level competitions were held here; even Sachin Tendulkar had played here a few times.”
Hundreds of athletes and players could train here because it is directly controlled by the ICF, Muralidharan said, adding that the administrative control, as such, should continue to remain with the factory. Sports committees of the ICF should have the freedom to determine the events and training schedule, he said.
An unnecessary procedure?
Recently, the railways had decided to conduct a study on the commercial development of all the 15 stadiums across the country. Subsequently, Railway Board ordered zonal railways and coach-production units to hand over stadiums to RLDA for techno-economic studies for commercial development.
A few months before the lockdown last year, the ICF stadium was closed for renovation. Since then, it remains closed and is expected to be reopened in the next few months.
While ICF officials remain tight-lipped, a sports player from ICF wondered why the control of stadium is being handed over to RLDA just for conducting a study for commercial development. “There was no clarity on the board’s proposal,” the player said.
The stadium is being modernised at Rs 3.5 crore and 95 per cent of works have been completed. “It will be thrown open for competitions after the lockdown. As such, under no circumstance should it be rented or leased out to private players,” added Muralidharan.
Stadiums selected for commercial study
- Sports Complex, Banaras Locomotive Works, Varanasi (BLW)
- Indoor Stadium and Cricket Ground, Parel, Mumbai (CR)
- Stadium, Bhubaneswar (ECoR)
- Indoor Stadium, Patna (ECR)
- Stadium Behala, Kolkata (ER)
- Sports Complex, Chennai (ICF)
- Sports Complex, Rae Bareli (MCF)
- Sports Complex, Maligaon, Guwahati (NFR)
- Sports Complex, Kapurthala (RCF)
- Cricket Stadium, Yalahanka, Bengaluru (RWF)
- Sports Complex, Secunderabad (SCR)
- Stadium, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai (WR)
- Hockey Stadium, Ranchi (SER)
- Cricket Stadium, Lucknow (NR)
- Gorakhpur Stadium, Gorakhpur (NER)