Railways plans ambitious cricket stadium in Delhi

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali, IANS

New Delhi : Faced with the need for good sports infrastructure, Indian Railways is planning to build an ambitious cricket stadium on 18 acres of prime land in northwest Delhi.

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Railways has given a proposal to the Indian cricket board for the stadium that will also have residential facilities, disclosed Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) secretary Rakesh Yadav.

"I have given the proposal to BCCI president Sharad Pawar," Yadav told IANS.

"The proposal is to build the stadium on 18 acres of prime land belonging to the Railways in Shakur Basti area (northwest Delhi)," he said.

The Railways have approached the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) because as one of its affiliated units it can get a maximum of $250 million as grant to meet the cost of construction.

If the BCCI accepts the Railways' proposal, it would be the second grand cricket stadium planned for Delhi. The other proposed stadium is the joint venture of the BCCI and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) that would cost over Rs.5 billion. Ferozeshah Kotla is the capital's lone cricket stadium.

Various Railway teams take part in most of the senior and junior national tournaments, but do not have a cricket-specific stadium in the country.

The Railways-owned Karnail Singh Stadium in the heart of Delhi is overused. This multi-purpose venue hosts disciplines like athletes, football, hockey, cricket and other sports on the same worn-out surface all-round the year.

There are several other shortcomings in the stadium. There is almost no space for parking – vehicles are parked on the road – no proper dressing rooms and no spectator galleries worth a mention.

Therefore, the proposal to have a new stadium in Delhi will be more than welcome not just for the many matches of the Ranji Trophy national cricket championship but also for the different age group tournaments that the Railways hosts every year.

Athletes from other sports could also train and stay at the new stadium.

"The stadium proposal also includes residential facilities," said Yadav.

And after the proposed stadium comes up, Railways can stake claim to host international matches too, he said.

Yadav said the proposal came from the Delhi division of Northern Railways.

"Although Shakur Basti is on the outskirts of the city, it is well connected," he said when asked about the connectivity.

Apart from the Karnail Singh Stadium, Secunderabad's R.R.C. Stadium is the other venue that Railways is keen to improve, Yadav said.