Fate of three Chepauk stands hangs in balance

Last Updated: Mon, May 13, 2013 14:48 hrs

The Supreme Court is set to play a crucial role in Tuesday's (May 14)  IPL match between table toppers Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Delhi Daredevils (DD). Will the apex court pass orders allowing fans to occupy the newly constructed stands I, J and K, which were sealed and made off-limits by Chennai Corporation officials on Sunday?

The case of the three new stands at Chepauk has landed in the apex court, after a special leave petition was filed by the Chennai Corporation Commissioner. Prior to that, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) which reportedly constructed the stands to comply with international cricket council norms, had approached the Madras High Court, after failing to get approval for the constructed stands. 

The civic agency has for months been maintaining that the three stands were built without getting the requisite building plan approval from it and planning permit from the CMDA. TNCA received a reprieve when the Madras High Court set aside the orders of the civic and police agencies which were reluctant to allow the stands to be operable. However, after the SLP in the apex court by the Chennai Corporation Commissioner, they were sealed after the order on Friday, staying the earlier Madras High Court order of February this year, permitting the usage of the three new stands.

Some of the fans who have bought tickets for the match are wondering why the civic agency is making the stand out of bounds at this late juncture, especially since the stands were made available for earlier IPL matches this season. According to sources in the TNCA, after the February order of the Madras High Court, they had sold tickets to the stand in question after being told that the Chennai Corporation would not disturb the status quo until May 22. However, the civic agency filed a SLP, even though there is no cause for concern over safety and security of the construction.

This is not the first instance of the civic agency withholding approval to buildings. Many commercial and residential properties have been pulled up by the agency for violation of norms. However, many have also been given a chance to retrieve the situation by paying a fine. Sources close to the civic agency say that the authorities have had to take a tough stand since it is a question of public safety, and not just a few residents or a handful of people engaged in their daily business. “If anything untoward happens, the government would be held responsible, hence the cautionary approach,” say sources.

Concerns over public safety was one of the reasons cited by the state government while banning Sri Lankan players from playing in Chennai, since there was a wave of anti-Lankan protests across the state over alleged human rights violations in Lanka during the last days of its civil war. The ban on playing Lankan cricketers in Chennai in this IPL forced many of the IPL franchisers to seek a different venue for the IPL play-offs, originally scheduled to be held at Chepauk.

They have now been shifted to the Kotla Stadium in New Delhi. As far as Chennai fans are concerned, Tuesday is their last chance to watch the match live, in the stadium, and all tickets have been sold out. Fans are even willing to pay more (in the black market) just to see their bleeding yellow heroes in action. “I am dying to watch the match, and I am sure Dhoni will finish the innings with a stylish six,” says an excited Arvind, who is yet to miss a single match this season. He has bought tickets in the J stand.

The three new stands alone can accommodate a whopping 12,000 spectators. In fact, although the outcome of the match is unlikely to upset the CSK team’s potential march to the finals in any way, the stadium is expected to be filled to capacity, and the fate of the three stands hangs in the balance.

“I am waiting to say Supreme Courtukku whistle podu,” says Pranav Raju, a Chennai Super Kings (CSK) fan, who is looking forward to a favourable order from the apex court.

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