Eyeing the crucial Lok Sabha elections, the Assam Agricultural University (AAU) has embarked on a “money-making mission” by letting out its impressive playground in Khanapara to political parties at a 600 percent higher rate.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi is visiting Guwahati on Tuesday, and is scheduled to address the party workers at AAU’s Multi-purpose Sports Complex of College of Veterinary Science at Khanapara.
But, the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) had to hire the venue at a premium rate from the Assam Agricultural University. The university has charged Rs 1,20,000 from APCC for Rahul Gandhi’s meeting.
Ranjeet Neog, Associate Director of Students Welfare, and the custodian of the sports complex told Northeast Now on Monday that the APCC booked the venue for two days at Rs 60,000 per day.
As the Multi-purpose Sports Complex at Khanapara is the most sought-after venue for political events and even marriages, the AAU authorities found the political atmosphere to be most suitable to increase the hiring charges by a whopping 600 per cent. Earlier, the university used to charge Rs 10,000 per day for the playground.
“Despite the hike in the hiring charges, there is a beeline to hire the playground,” Neog said, adding that the Congress as well as the ruling BJP has already applied to set up temporary helipads (with parking facilities) for the Lok Sabha elections.
Despite Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s dream to transform Guwahati as the Sports Capital of India, the Assam Agricultural University, with the sole aim to earn quick money, has totally plundered its playground in Khanapara.
In the past, several cricketers of Assam had complained that the AAU authorities had ruined one of the finest playgrounds by practically transforming it as the venue for political meetings, fairs and exhibitions. These days, there is hardly any sporting activity in the sports complex.
Earlier, in an RTI reply, Ranjeet Neog, Associate Director of Students Welfare of AAU had held the BJP and Kamrup (Metro) district administration responsible for destruction of the sports complex at Khanapara.
Neog had said the standard twin cricket pitch at the sports complex, which was inaugurated in March 2011, is not in working condition now “due to earth-filling works by the BJP Assam Pradesh”. The ADSW had even said the BJP was responsible for destruction of the boundary walls of the sports complex at different places, and have not been restored.
Though the AAU authorities had claimed that Assam’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma “was kind enough to allocate” an amount of Rs 1 crore in last year’s budget, the broken walls of the sports complex are yet to be repaired.
Without any commitment to stop non-sporting activities in the sports complex, the AAU’s move to throw open the playground for political activities, and that too at a premium price, will continue to shatter CM Sonowal’s dream.