DNA Exclusive: Kerala Cricket Association spent Rs 12 crore on project office that does not exist
The stadium was never built as the State and Central government refused to allow the construction on 'ecologically fragile land'. Photograph: (AFP)
By Chander Shekhar Luthra
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may have ignored complaints that the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) was siphoning off a large sum of money in connection with the construction of a stadium.
Even the auditing, done by Deloitte and commissioned by the BCCI itself, may not have revealed the actual scale of irregularities relating to the Edakochi stadium scam. (DNA has audit reports from 2010-11 to 2015-16)
Annual audit reports of the KCA throw light on how they spent more than Rs 12 crore over six years on maintaining an office for a project, which doesn't exist.
This adds to the already controversial issue concerning the construction of an international stadium at a whopping cost of Rs 250 crore. For this, the KCA had procured wetland at a cost of at least Rs 25.50 crore, flouting environmental norms in Edakochi, Kochi.
The stadium was never built as the State and the Central government refused to allow the construction on "ecologically fragile land".
DNA has documents to show that current BCCI vice-president TC Mathew, who was secretary of KCA then, played a hand in procuring this wetland after rejecting the state government's offer to provide free land for the stadium.
In February 2008, KCA decided to form a stadium committee to find Build Operate Transfer (BOT) operators to construct the stadium.
As per the records in possession of DNA, the committee received 24 proposals and five were shortlisted. However, the stadium committee, which included Mathew and current secretary Jayesh George, recommended the Edakochi proposal from Infrastructure Venture Consortium (IVC) to the General Body.
While the other four proposals were marked "poor" or "average", the marshy Edakochi land proposal was marked "excellent".
In March 2009, KCA General Body unanimously approved the choice of the stadium committee to procure the Edakochi marshes. The minutes show how some members, including former president A Salim, put forward their apprehensions about getting environmental clearances to build the stadium on such a land, and the committee members were quick to allay these fears.
Project Office for what?
DNA has access to audit reports of KCA between 2010 to 2016 which state that "more than Rs 12 crore were spent on maintaining a project office".
This Project Office was opened, near Madhava Pharmacy Junction on Banerji Road, specifically for the Edakochi International Stadium as indicated in the KCA Annual report 2010-11.
Even the statutory auditor of the state cricket association has no clue on how and where this money was spent.
The statutory auditor (Ms Varma & Varma) has stated in all their annual reports from 2010-11 to 2015-16 that "the accounts of the Project Office at Ernakulam have not been subject to audit by them, it is audited by a separate firm and we are only incorporating the assets/liabilities, income and expenses in their report".
None of these audit reports over six years contain the audited statement of accounts pertaining to the "project office".
George, however, said the huge expenditure under the "Project Office" included all maintenance expenses on stadia/ grounds owned/ leased by KCA all over the state.
When asked to produce the audited statement of accounts related to this "project office" head to support this claim, George chose to remain silent.
And so the questions remain, "Where have all those crores of rupees, intended for development of cricket in Kerala, gone?"
And, "Why have the BCCI and the present Committee of Administrators (COA) remained silent despite being aware of all these irregularities?"
(The final part of this two-part series will appear on Thursday)
The then ruling LDF government offered dry land, and not the wetland, which KCA finally procured.
This was done as BCCI paid state units money to buy land and build their own stadia
Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau named KCA members – TR Balakrishnan (president), Mathew (secretary), G Sajikumar, S. Haridas, TN Ananthanarayanan, Karthik Varma, TK Madhav and Jayesh George (present secretary) — in an FIR (VC 4/2013)
(This article was first published in DNA)