A little over a month after serving an eviction notice to the Mumbai Hockey Association in Churchgate, the state government has now trained its guns on Churchgate’s Karnataka Sporting Association (KSA) Ground.
In a letter dated December 10, 2012 and signed by the state’s school education and sports department deputy secretary Satish Jondhale, the government has said that since the lease of the land in possession of KSA since 1971 has expired, the deputy director of sports and youth affairs (Mumbai division) must take immediate possession of the same and build a sports complex therein.
The Karnataka Sporting Association’s football ground at Cross Maidan, Churchgate. Pic/Atul Kamble
NB Mote, Deputy Director of Sports and Youth Affairs (Mumbai Division), confirmed the development. “We have a directive from the ministry that we must build 24 taluka-level sports facilities across the 24 wards in the city. We cannot get any government land for this purpose, so we have no option but to take back the land we have leased to various sports bodies. As per this directive, for ‘A’ ward, the KSA ground has been selected. We plan to build a sports complex here for the benefit of the public,” Mote told MiD DAY yesterday.
KSA officials are inevitably unimpressed. “We have previously received eviction notices in 1991 and then again in 2010. Each time we have presented our case to the competent authority at the Collector’s office and each time we have got a judgement in our favour. This time too, we are confident that we will fight to retain what is rightfully ours,” KSA, vice president Jaya Shetty told MiD DAY.
When informed of the government’s plans to build a sports complex at the venue Shetty said that KSA had volunteered to erect a complex themselves. “In 2011, we had a meeting with the minister for Sports and Youth Welfare Padmakar Valvi, who told us of the government’s plans to build a sports facility at our venue. We in turn, told them that since the government is already burdened with so many activities and also has a cash crunch, we would build a sports complex that would also house the office of the sports directorate office. The minister agreed to this. So, now I don’t understand how this letter has come about,” added Shetty.
KSA Hon Joint Secretary Prakash Shetty concluded: “We have only used our ground to promote football and do not hold any commercial activity on it. We also help poor and under-privileged kids by providing them kits and even ration to help them play the game without any financial burden. The least the government could do, is let us continue this good work.”