The Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Stadium here, which is supposed to be a ‘world-class’ sports facility as envisioned by the government, is at present resembling an agriculture field ready for sowing.

Athletes who practice at the stadium are only able to witness the deteriorating condition of the running track, cricket pitch and other facilities of the only multi-purpose ground spread in an area of 6.5 acres. Thanks to the series of government programmes attended by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu organised in the oval-shaped ground of she Stadium during the past three weeks.

The ground hosted five government programmes, including Thursday’s Anganwadi workers’ meeting with the Chief Minister.

In contrast to these usage, the ground hardly hosted any cricket matches in the past three years. According to the records of the Municipal Corporation, owner of the stadium, it was hired only five times in 2016, once in 2017 and not even once in 2018 for sports events by private organisations.

But dozens of government programmes were organised in the past four years leaving the ground damaged every time. All this despite the misuse being questioned by the High Court.

In 2015, senior sports administrator K. P. Rao filed a writ petition with the High Court seeking it to stop misuse of the stadium in violation the municipal council’s resolutions and bylaws.

“The High Court had put an end to non-sport events in the stadium. But officials continue to use it for government events taking advantage of the secure surroundings it provides for VVIPs. Nowhere in India is a sports facility misused in such a way,” Mr. Rao said.

After the court directive, the civic body stopped renting out the ground for private events, while the government supported events went on uninterrupted.

Admitting that the stadium had been hosting several government events, a VMC official said they were never informed when the government events are planned in the stadium. With this, the civic body is also losing income. It charges Rs. 8,000 per day to rent out the cricket ground.

At the behest of the Chief Minister, the civic body had planned development of the stadium with world class facilities in January 2017 at a cost of Rs. 50 crore. The proposal was dropped after the civic body called tenders.

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