The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tax the people to host a Test


tThe cost for Calcutta Police adds up to Rs 15 lakh daily. Rs 600 is charged for each policeman, plus the cost of setting up ‘may-I-help-you booths’ and deployment of radio flying squads

tA private security agency would have charged around Rs 16.25 lakh a day

tCMC claims Rs 8 crore is the first one-time payment the CAB has not paid till date

tThe actual PWD cost for the 50-odd employees deployed to look after the Maidan division is more than Rs 30 lakh per annum

tCAB paid Calcutta Police just Rs 1.25 lakh for the last One-Day International played at Eden Gardens

tCAB has paid nothing to the CMC

tCAB has paid nothing to the PWD

Subsidies for education' Forget it. Subsidies for health' No way. But subsidies for a cricket match from which the organisers and the advertisers mint millions' No problem.

The spat over the spoils of cricket, that began essentially as one between the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), has now thrown up a more important question: whether the average tax-payer should under-write the cost of the support services so crucial to a cricket match or similar public events, like the Book Fair.

The CAB, say officials, is one of the most cash-rich sports bodies and the main source of income at Eden Gardens remains the money the public pays to see their cricket heroes in action, though a tidy enough sum comes from advertisement rights on the ground. A lion’s share of the expenses, however, is finally passed on to the ordinary tax-payer.

CAB officials counter the demand for the spoils, saying the time has come for a legislation that will define the market price of the support services. “Though there’s no quarrel with the basic premise that support services cannot be indefinitely subsidised, the agency that has the right to collect the costs and the quality of services it provides also have to be defined,” a senior CAB official said.

Calcutta Police, for instance, would have charged any other private organiser around Rs 15 lakh every day for the kind of services it provides at Eden Gardens on a Test match day. For each of the 2,500 policemen and policewomen it employs for duty on the ground, it spends around Rs 600 on an average. This includes the “dry-food allowance”, given to every cop for more than eight hours’ duty a day, the cost of mobilising and transporting them and that of deploying patrol vehicles.

Private security managers say they would have charged a little more — Rs 16.25 lakh — for deploying 2,500-odd men and women for 10 hours. “We know that getting around Rs 1.25 lakh every day for the type of services we provide defies logic,” admitted Calcutta Police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty. “What the CAB is paying would not have been accepted by us, had it been any other agency. We cannot do anything, as we are bound by government policy.”

Deputy commissioner (headquarters) Shibaji Ghosh pegged the demand at Rs 7 lakh this year. Even that, he said, was “negotiable”. But he, too, confessed that the sum could not cover the amount spent on the force at the game.

The public works department (PWD) spends more than Rs 30 lakh for the 50-odd staff it employs for the Maidan division, say officials. Besides, maintaining the lights, the deep tubewells and the pumps bleed the exchequer by another lakh, they add. The amount the PWD gets in return: zero.

The money the CMC is demanding, mayor Subrata Mukherjee says, includes the outstanding plan-sanction fees for all the construction the CAB had made, the licence fees and penalty accruing from the deep tubewells sunk without permission, drainage tax and amusement tax at the rate of Rs 2 for every four hours from the 90,000 spectators on each day of the five-day match.

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