The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2012 matches at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium have brought along major business for the locals of Gahunje. They have been making the best of the opportunity and some of them have started businesses like pay and park facility in front of their homes, selling soft drinks, pan masala, t-shirts, flags, balloons, colourful wigs, mouth organs and other related merchandise.
With rigid security measures in place for the IPL matches, spectators are only allowed to carry mobile phones and wallets inside the stadium.
The proprietor of a small hotel, located about 100 metres from the stadium, has capitalised on the opportunity and has been offering match goers a unique service.
He charges Rs 100 for each item deposited with him, including cameras, helmets, umbrellas, bags and any belongings that match goers are not allowed to carry along into the stadium. After the matches are over, owners can reclaim their belongings by providing a number or token given to them at the time of depositing the items for safekeeping.
The service appears to be a boon for many cricket enthusiasts if not for which, they would have had no other option but to forgo watching matches, return home or lose their belongings.
While some may breathe a sigh of relief over the service, others feel that the hotel owner is charging exorbitantly and expect some action to be taken.
This reporter visited the tin-shed cloak room run by the hotel owner on May 11, when Pune Warriors was to face off with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Posing as one of the 45 other persons in the queue, the reporter asked about the fee for depositing a camera and a helmet for safekeeping and was told to pay Rs 200.
When asked why the fee was so steep, the person making entries in a register at the facility said, “Sir, we are actually doing you people a favor. If our facility was not available, you would have had to go back home without watching the match.”
The person added that the fee was actually minimal and the service ensured that fans would not miss the matches.
“I have come from Kothrud and have covered a distance of 30 kilometres so I had to bring my helmet along. When I reached to the entry point at the stadium, the security personnel told me that helmets were not allowed inside. The guard advised me to safely keep my helmet at a hotel in front of the gate number three by paying around Rs 20 to Rs 30. I rushed to the spot mentioned, but the person at the luggage counter asked me to pay Rs 100, which is exorbitant. I had no choice but to accept as the match was about to start,” said Swapnil Hatwalne, an ME student.
Swati Deshmukh had reached the stadium with her friends to watch one match and as it was raining, she had brought along an umbrella.
“Umbrellas are not allowed inside the stadium and I had to pay Rs 100 to keep an item worth Rs 150 at the hotel,” Swati said.
She added that though the organisers have mentioned terms and conditions on the reverse of the tickets, the print is too small to read easily.
The police are aware of the various services being offered, but chose to turn a blind eye since no crime is being committed by the operators of the so called ‘cloak room.’
Ramnath Pokale, Additional Superintendent of Police (Rural) admitted that the operators are charging exorbitant fees and added that the villagers of Gahunje are actually cashing in on the opportunity.
“The matches are about to get over now. Next time, we will give suggestions to the Maharashtra Cricket Association to provide this facility at the stadium so match goers can keep their belonging by paying minimum fees,” Pokale said.
A senior security official at the stadium said that they cannot do anything, as the cloak room facility being run by the hotel, does not fall within the stadium boundary.
Also, it has been specifically mentioned on the reverse of the tickets that such items are not allowed inside.
“Stadium management cannot provide cloak room facility as the capacity of the stadium is 40,000 people. If everybody bring items at the time of matches, it will be difficult to provide space to keep the items,” he said.