VIP gallery at Eden Gardens triggers a row

Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: The setting up of a temporary gallery at the Ranji Stadium (better known as Eden Gardens) during the third round of the Indian Premier League match on March 14, which created facilities for seating VIPs just next to Shah Rukh Khan, has kicked up a controversy with the State government saying that the facility did not have the official seal of approval.

The special arrangement which reportedly carried a tag of Rs. 32,000 per seat, also drew the ire of the State Fire Minister Pratim De who threatened to lodge a FIR against the Cricket Association of Bengal chief Jagmohan Dalmiya for defying fire-service regulations while setting up the temporary gallery entirely out of flammable material.

State Public Works Department secretary A.J. Bardhan told reporters at the secretariat that no permission of fitness was given to the authorities for setting up this gallery on March 14. Kolkata Knight Riders took on the Royal Challengers of Bangalore during this match.

Mr. Bardhan said that if such a seating arrangement was used again for the March 16 match then the State government would not accept any responsibilities for any untoward incident. Mr. De said the authorities did not show any respect for government rules. The PWD has asked for some modification to the temporary gallery for future matches, failing which a fitness certificate would not be issued.

The current renovation job at the stadium has reduced the seating capacity considerably but has created a cut out which created an opportunity for making seating arrangements for VIPs. This special stand had a capacity of around 350 seats.