Virbhadra govt cancels HPCA's lease of Dharamshala stadium, resort
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In a significant decision, the state cabinet on Saturday cancelled the land lease granted to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) of a stadium in Dharamshala and a five-star luxury resort next to it.
While the stadium was built in 2003, the resort, 'The Pavilion', was built in 2011-12 by the HPCA, under the presidentship of BJP MP Anurag Thakur, son of former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, during the tenure of the earlier BJP governments.
Following the decision, the district administration in Kangra was alerted to take immediate control of the stadium and the resort. But till late evening, there was no official word on any action taken.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who presided over the Cabinet meeting, is learnt to have strongly supported the proposal which was moved by the revenue department, citing alleged violations by the HPCA and "misuse" of power by the BJP government in granting "undue favours to HPCA''. According to reports, the land for the resort was allotted to the HPCA for building "residential facilities for sportsmen".
When contacted, Anurag Thakur claimed to have "some information" about all HPCA land leases being cancelled. "The Chief Minister must know that the judiciary in this country is fiercely independent and will be approached for relief if the government takes any illegal and politically motivated action," he said. "People of the state are watching every vindictive action of the government," he added.
While the decision is not unexpected, it comes as a serious blow to the HPCA. The state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau has already registered two FIRs against the HPCA for alleged irregularities. The cooperatives registrar, who had issued a showcause notice to the HPCA raising legal questions on its switchover from a society to a company, is set to pronounce his order on Monday.
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