ACA fails to pay Barsapara Contractors
Contractors who helped Assam Cricket Association (ACA) renovate the ACA Cricket Stadium at Barsapara prior to the India-Australia T20 match held in October last have alleged that they haven’t been paid their dues by the association yet.
Kula Talukdar, proprietor of Indigo Flame, a store of kitchenware and electrical goods in Bamunimaidam, told G Plus that the delay of two months in paying the dues have put his brother (the contractor) in a huge debt.
Requesting that his brother’s identity not be revealed, Talukdar said, “He had taken a contract of Rs 1.20 crores to supply lighting equipments for the ACA stadium. To procure the goods, he had taken loans from money lenders and now he is in a huge debt. It’s been two months since the match was held and he has not been paid a paisa.”
“My brother has been hiding from “loan sharks” since then. He has changed his number and has not returned home for almost three months. Even we are not being able to contact him. He was supposed to be paid once the ACA earned through the ticket sales,” he said.
The ACA Stadium, the foundation stone of which was laid in 2004 and started hosting Ranji Trophy matches since 2009, needed several major renovation works to be eligible as per standards laid down by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to hold the international T20 match.
The ACA had tendered several contractors to construct practice fields, parking lots, replace damaged bucket seats, put in a surveillance system and other minute tweaks.
Talukdar’s brother had set up four floodlights of 852 lux or 1,22,338 Watts for the practice field.
Another contractor, maintaining anonymity, said, “The match was a huge success and the entire stadium had a jam-packed audience. It is time that they paid our dues. We are neck deep in debt. We will have to take some drastic steps if not paid soon.”
Talukdar, who had supplied electronic goods too to the ACA, lost about Rs 8 lakhs back in 2007 when Bikash Baruah was the secretary of the ACA.
"Later Baruah got caught in money swindling scams in the association and was banned from the association. Along with it went down my brother’s faint chances of getting paid," Talukdar said.
Chances slim for debt-ridden ACA to pay soon
The T-20 match was more of a means to plough back profit to settle old accounts of the already debt-ridden ACA, a source in the association said.
"Several responsibilities of the association, such as funding the district cricket associations to hold cricket matches and support the meritorious players besides conducting practices for the Ranji players and junior state teams were hampered due to debts. Those areas need major uplifts," the source said.
The debt has accumulated due to two major reasons - past anomalies allegedly conducted by Bikash Baruah and non-sanction of funds by BCCI for not implementing the Lodha Committee's recommendations.
According to a governing body meeting of ACA convened in March this year, the audits conducted by BCCI post the surfacing of the alleged anomalies by former secretary Bikash Baruah, had revealed at least 47 cases of financial irregularities.
“Owing to the various anomalies during Baruah’s regime and because BCCI stopped sending funds, the ACA, as on date, has a cumulative debt to the tune of Rs 65 crore,” a source in the ACA, under condition of anonymity, said.
By February 4, 2016, the Supreme Court made it compulsory for the BCCI to implement the recommendations of Justice RM Lodha Committee following which, on February 23, the Committee of Administrators (COA), running the BCCI, had written to all state cricket associations to submit compliance reports.
ACA, however, chose to wait and has not complied with the recommendations yet leading to non-sanction of funds from BCCI as instructed by the Supreme Court last October.
All debts will be cleared by April: ACA
ACA secretary Pradip Borgohain, when contacted, said that all the debts will be paid by April.
"It is obvious that it will not be possible to pay off the entire amount of the debt by holding just one international match. But the renovation of the stadium was not done to hold just one but several more such matches in the future. We are still doing the counting of money and proper expenditure of the same on an urgent basis. All the stakeholders will be paid by April," Borgohain said.
The ACA had taken loans to the tune of Rs 14 crores from several banks which, according to sources, were meant to be paid back after the T-20 match.
"The majority of the T-20 match earnings, after paying off the BCCI, were already spent on paying past and more pressing debts. We are expecting a breather of Rs 15 crores from the government. Once we receive that, all debts will be paid off," Gohain assured.