The Shanbhag Fiasco

The National Cricket Academy (NCA) has been in the news of late but  for the wrong reasons. A couple of months back it had been looking to shift its premises to a much larger area from the present location at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. For that purpose the organization had doled out INR 50 crore in order to buy an area of 49.39 acres which is near the new international airport being constructed in the city. The deal never came to fruition and they were supposed to get the money back from the local administrative body that was acquiring the land on its behalf. However, it was reported a day or two back in the media that a gentleman named Gurudutt Shanbhag, a Bangalore businessman with purportedly a substantial interest in the real estate sector had duped them out of the money by supposedly signing for the BCCI and then escaping with it.

However, the accused has recently got in touch with media, especially one of the leading English language newspapers based in Kolkata, to make it clear that he is not gone in hiding as has been reported following the recent sub-committee meeting of the NCA. He has stated that he is not responsible for any scam and he has absolutely not gone in hiding. He has also threatened legal action because of the fact that his reputation has been damaged by dragging his name into the affair.

He has also stated that if the need arises he shall take a flight to Kolkata and talk to Jagmohan Dalmiya, the interim president of the BCCI, in order to save his reputation. The efforts of BCCI to get the new land in Bangalore for its new NCA premises were unsuccessful as the High Court of Karnataka refused to permit the acquisition being led by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB). The most powerful judicial body in the state has ruled that the KIADB should be more bothered with industrial development rather than supporting a cricketing organization.

The amount that is involved in the whole deal and is at the center of the entire controversy is still stuck as a result of the ruling. Interestingly enough the deal was done between two organizations and not individuals and this raises some uncomfortable questions for the BCCI who have dragged Shanbhag into the melee. Shanbhag has stated that he owns 2 acres in the area where the NCA wanted to set the premises up – the site is jointly owned by farmers and businessmen. He has said that he in fact helped the BCCI by doing the liaison work for it but was not paid a single farthing for his efforts.

He has stated that initially the KIADB was trying to pay the owners of the land INR 50 lakh for each acre but that was not acceptable to them since they were going to sell the land to the BCCI for twice the amount. He has said that it was at that point that the Bhatias, who own a majority share of the land in question, opted to move to court and the whole deal had to be called off. This has happened, in fact, a couple of months ago.

Shanbhag has pointed out that since the process of acquisition was unsuccessful the BCCI can expect a complete refund of the amount – the 25 per cent deduction that is normally applicable in such cases would not be used over here. He has stated emphatically that the money is not with him as is being reported in the media and revealed that it is the responsibility of the BCCI to start the procedure of reclaiming the money.

He has stated that nowadays a letter of allotment is required to sign a contract but that was never given by the KIADB to BCCI since the deal never came through. This effectively annuls media reports incriminating him on this instance. He has pointed out, and rightly so, that the media should have checked the facts before carrying the said report. He has also stated that he never signed anything on the BCCI’s behalf and is apprehensive that his signature may have been duplicated.

One can understand that the cricket administrators are unable to understand the game and do anything good for it since most of them have never ventured beyond a corporate friendly but these instances represent complete fallacy in an area where they are supposed to perform well. A person was incriminated when in fact he had tried to help the BCCI without any monetary reward and it is just flabbergasting that the all-mighty officials do not know the rules and resort to such callous behaviour. However, given the recent run of things one would be a fool to expect anything better.