Eden will be ready by Feb 5, says Bengal minister

Sunday, January 30, 2011

KOLKATA - The West Bengal government, which has swiftly moved in to ensure the Eden Gardens gets back the Feb 27 World Cup match, Sunday said less than “five percent” of construction work remained to be completed and will be done by Feb 5.

The International Cricket Council, the game’s apex body, has taken away the India-England match from the Eden Gardens due to unpreparedness of the ground.

However, state PWD Minister Kshiti Gowami, who took a stock of the preparation Sunday, lashed out at the ICC and claimed it was yet to submit a list of things it wanted to be done for reconsidering whether the game can be held at the historic ground - which staged the World Cup final in 1987 and a semi-final in 1996.

“At this juncture, I don’t want to implicate them (ICC) by leveling charges. Now we eagerly want the match to be played If the ICC wants coaxing from our side, we will coax and coax.”

“But the ICC is yet to provide a list of the things it wants to be done. Let them first say what they want. I came here as an observer and inspected the ground with my departmental engineers. Less than five percent of the civil construction work still remains to be done. We will work on war footing. By Feb 5 all work will be complete,” he said.

“And by Feb 7 Eden will be match fit. Work has reached such a stage that (Cricket Association of Bengal president) Mr.Jagmohan Dalmiya can sleep and still hold the match once he wakes up, said Goswami, known for his closeness to the seasoned cricket administrator.

Goswami said following a request from former Indian captain and local boy Sourav Ganguly, state Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee called up ICC president Sharad Pawar, who later called back. “This (Sunday) morning the CM again spoke to Pawar.”

“Pawar has said if all conditions are met, the match may be held. He told the CM that he will send an e-mail detailing the points he wanted the CAB to cover Mr.Dalmiya has also called him up several times. We are still awaiting the list. It is almost 6 p.m. now. But where is the list? asked Goswami, who visited the ground on Bhattacharjees instruction.

“This list must come today. He (Pawar) has been repeatedly saying the mail is being sent. But despite that, nothing has come. This is creating a problem,” he said.

Dalmiya said he had spoken to Pawar at least five-six times besides interacting with the Indian cricket board officials like secretary N.Srinivasan and tournament director Ratnakar Shetty.

They said we have failed. But on what have we failed? I am being told that the mail on this will come. I think it is reasonable on my part to ask what they think are our failings. I hope they send it to us by tomorrow (Monday) morning.”

“They are talking of shortcomings on the cricket operations front. Cricket operation is a big area. What is the specific thing they want us to do?” Dalmiya said.

Alleging a conspiracy to rob Eden Gardens and the city of the World Cup game, Goswami said: Maybe the list will be sent so late that we wont have any time to do anything. That will only prove the motive was to take the match away form Kolkata. There are lot of things involved.”

Accusing the ICC of going by commercial interest, Goswmai said: Kolkata is still not considered a top commercial city. Maybe, there are other cities in India which have more commercial value.”

Goswmai said the ICC was yet to provide details of the sight screen.

They have to tell us what should be the height of the sight screen. Now if they want a 25-feet sight screen, then the Club House (VIP gallery) will have 500 seats less. The CAB is ready with the optimum size. But if the ICC makes it a binding pre-condition, we have to go by it.”

The minister also said the ICC was yet to provide the electronic scoreboard.

The ICC Jan 27 ruled the Eden Gardens unsuitable for the tie due to its unpreparedness. The scrapping of the venue followed an adverse report from the ICC venue inspection team that reviewed Eden Gardens readiness for the big event hosted jointly by India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka from Feb 19 to April 2.

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