Why green activists are unhappy over Nagpur hosting WT20 matches

Mar 25, 2016, 10:32 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

Petition filed by law students before National Green Tribunal (NGT) over non-compliance with environmental, safety checks at Nagpur’s Jamtha Stadium

Green activists are seeing red over the use of Jamtha Stadium in Nagpur for T20 World Cup matches. Nagpur-based law students, along with social activists, have moved the National Green Tribunal (western zone), Nagpur, alleging that the stadium was given the green light to host 11 T20 matches without the mandatory safety and environmental checks.

The petitioners contend that the Vidarbha Cricket Association puts the lives of cricket fans at risk during T20 World Cup matches. File pic
The petitioners contend that the Vidarbha Cricket Association puts the lives of cricket fans at risk during T20 World Cup matches. File pic

Claiming that the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA), which manages the stadium, skipped the fire audit and the authorization from the ministry of environment, they asked the tribunal on Tuesday to order a stay on matches.

The petition was moved by lawyer Asim Sarode, on behalf of Nagpur-based Jai Jawan Jai Kisan secretary Arun Wankar, law student Ankita Shah and RTI activist Toram Harishkumar Naidu, against the VCA, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, the Nagpur Improvement Trust, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, the Nagpur divisional commissioner, the superintendent of police (rural), the district collector and others. The plaint has been moved under sections 14 and 15 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, read with Section 18.

The petitioners alleged that the stadium was not properly inspected by the authorities concerned and was granted permission to host the matches in haste. They claimed that the Jamtha Stadium has flouted rules time and again. Not only has it not been given the go-ahead by the ministry of environment, but it has also not been authorised for use by the Airports Authority of India, they said. The stadium is in close proximity of the Nagpur airport.

“Such illegalities and irregularities have been in place since 2004. The sub-divisional officer had granted permission to the stadium on December 1, 2004, for non-agricultural use. But the VCA’s purpose of purchasing this land was clear from the start — to construct a cricket stadium and a clubhouse, and use them for allied activities,” stated the petition.

RTI reveals
Ankita Jain (27), one of the petitioners, told mid-day that the students had found out using the RTI Act that the VCA had failed to get the mandatory environmental clearance before constructing the stadium. “To date, it has not obtained it, violating provisions of the 2006 notification of the ministry of environment and forests.”

Against the backdrop of such irregularity, the Nagpur district collector’s issuance of the performance licence to the VCA for the T20 matches has also come under a cloud. “It is a clear manipulation of the laws,” alleged Jain.

Sarode said the VCA has taken up consent on a case-by-case basis. “It had written to the chief fire officer at Nagpur on October 23, 2013, seeking a provisional no-objection certificate (NOC) for a one-day international cricket match, scheduled for October 30 that year. This letter indicates that the VCA did not bother to obtain an NOC from the fire department, but applied for one only when matches were to be played.” He alleged that such half-hearted measures of the VCA put the lives of the large number of visitors at risk during matches.

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