BHOPAL: Preparations at Holkar Stadium in Indore to host three IPL matches hit a roadblock on Thursday with the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) sealing part of the stadium over non-payment of Rs 29 lakh worth property tax dues.
The stadium, which houses headquarters of Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA), has been selected as the venue for Kings XI Punjab’s three matches on April 8, 10 and 20.
The big-ticket glitzy premier cricket league returns to Indore after a gap of six years, as the same stadium had hosted two IPL games last in 2011.
IMC deputy commissioner (revenue) PS Solanki, who headed the team which sealed the two cabins, including that of MPCA chief executive officer, and two of the eight entry-exit gates of the stadium, said: “A significant part of the property has been sealed owing to non-payment of property tax worth `29 lakh due for the 2016-17 financial year.”
Solanki added that MPCA officials submitted before them on Thursday that being an institution, they couldn’t make the payment of Rs 29 lakh at one go. “They sought 15 day time to pay the Rs29 lakh property tax, but with the financial year coming to close on Friday, we’d no option but to seal part of the stadium. The MPCA has a day to make the payment.”
The IMC official further added: “The sum of Rs 7.4 lakh being paid annually by MPCA since 2011 is not property tax, but payment for basic services taken from the IMC. Also, with the Holkar Stadium not being a free playground for commoners, but a commercial cricket match venue, it is not exempt from payment of property tax. When the MPCA failed to self-declare the 1.61 lakh sq ft cricket turf as commercial venue, we performed a survey on Wednesday and calculated the tax payable for the entire stadium, including the sprawling cricket turf.”
However, MPCA CEO Rohit Pandit told NIE: “Since 2011 the MPCA has been annually paying Rs 7.4 lakh to IMC as property tax at IMC’s behest only. The last payment of Rs 7.45 lakh was made to the IMC on May 12, 2016. Suddenly, on Wednesday an IMC team surveyed the stadium and sent us two notices the same evening, one demanding Rs 18 lakh as tax and the other stipulating payment of Rs 29 lakh as tax.”
Pandit added: “Even before we could decide anything in the matter, the IMC team arrived at the stadium at 12.30 pm on Thursday and asked us to make the Rs 29 lakh payment promptly. As MPCA is an institution which needs to clear such a huge payment only after a proper board meeting, we sought a fortnight’s time to make the payment. But the IMC officials refused to give us time and sealed two cabins and two gates of the stadium just half an hour later,” alleged the MPCA CEO.
He also questioned why the IMC didn’t act identically against two more institutions in the stadium’s vicinity, including the Yeshwant Club, despite these institutions also not having paid the property tax dues.
“Is this selective sealing act by the IMC only aimed at getting the property tax or something else, only the IMC can tell,” said Pandit.
MPCA secretary Milind Kanmadikar said the sudden action just nine days before the first of the three IPL matches will certainly hit the preparations, particularly when the Kings XI Punjab operational team and BCCI team is already in Indore. “Such an action is bound to hamper our preparations and also give a rude jolt to die-had cricket fans awaiting the return of IPL to Indore,” he said.
The Kings XI are slated to play three matches at Indore’s Holkar Stadium, against Rising Pune Supergiants (April 8), Royal Challengers Bangalore (April 10) and Mumbai Indians (April 20).