A much-hyped scheme to build a sports city in Noida led to losses of Rs 9,000 crore to the exchequer and plots worth Rs 4,500 crore under the scheme were allotted to entities that did not meet the technical eligibility criteria of stipulated net worth, turnover or past experience, India’s national auditor said in a report.
Technical eligibility criteria specified for the developers were based on real estate development rather than the development of sports infrastructure, said the report, a scathing indictment of a blatant nexus that existed for years officials of the Noida authority and builders.
Urban planning officials of Noida, a booming industrial township in Uttar Pradesh, granted undue benefits of more than Rs 9,000 crore to the allottees of Sports City plots, to the corresponding detriment of New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA). For the failures in meeting the stated objectives of creating a Sports City and the huge losses caused to NOIDA, the government should consider taking exemplary action against the delinquent officers, the CAG report noted.
The lacunae in sports city policy were further accentuated by failures in due diligence; in three out of four allotments, plots worth Rs 4,500 crore involving area of more than 25 lakh sqm were allotted to ineligible entities who did not even meet the technical eligibility criteria of stipulated net worth, turnover or past experience, the report which was tabled in the UP Assembly on December 17 said.
The Sports Cities scheme was floated in June 2007 for which sectors 78,79, 150, and 152 were earmarked. Under the scheme plots measuring 826 acres were offered from 2011 to 2015. The reserve price for the plots varied from Rs 11500 per sq m to Rs 26,200 per sq m.
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The report said the scheme gave precedence to housing over sports infrastructure and that none of the sports facilities in the Sports city has been completed even though the stipulated time period for completion of sports facilities in the four plots was between October 2016 and December 2019.
On the other hand, two group housing projects in the Sports City have been given completion certificate, it observed.
Consortiums prioritised the development of Group Housing projects within the Sports City while placing sports-related development on the back-burner. The facilities intended have either not materialised at all or those created are in complete violation of the Board’s vision, it said.
It noted that NOIDA failed to lay down any specifications or parameters for the level of intended sports infrastructure. The technical eligibility criteria specified for the developers were based on real estate development rather than the development of sports infrastructure.
Moreover, technical eligibility criteria of the net worth of Rs 80 crore to Rs 125 crore was also not commensurate with the value of the sports city plots which ranged between Rs 837 crore and Rs 2,264 crore
As per technical eligibility criteria specified in the scheme brochure, the bidder should have executed a minimum of two completed projects related to real estate development and construction activities of a minimum of 10 lakh sq ft in aggregate during the last five years.
The sole criterion NOIDA relied upon while inviting bids and determining the eligibility of the bidders, was experience in developing real estate projects.
There was no condition in the tender for submission of a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for undertaking a project of such magnitude, it said.
No Sports Authority or organisation was consulted to decide the specifications of sports infrastructure. Also, the brochures of the schemes did not include any technical specifications in respect of proposed sports facilities. No technical criteria regarding the experience of developing sports infrastructure was included in the brochures which resulted in the allotment of plots to entities not having the necessary experience, CAG said.
As on date (January 2021), no sports infrastructure has come up in the allotted plots.
The scheme led to undue benefits worth Rs 8643 crore to allottees
It said that the scheme led to undue benefits worth Rs 8643 crore accruing to the allottees. The Audit observed that NOIDA had given incentive to the developers in terms of reduced prices for plots and allowing extra Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and Ground Coverage (GC) for developing sports infrastructure.
The allottees, through sub-divisions and prioritising Group Housing, have vitiated the envisioned concept and received an undue benefit of Rs 8,643 crore, it noted.
NOIDA abdicated its regulatory responsibilities, permitted large-scale sub-division of plots and the development of Group Housing in sub-divided plots while placing no focus on the intended creation of sports infrastructure, the report said.
It said that NOIDA, in deviation from its primary mandate of development of an industrial township, allotted four plots measuring 33.44 lakh sqm during 2011-16 for the integrated development of four sports cities with the aim of holding marquee sports events like National Games, Commonwealth Games and Asiad Games. Three golf courses of nine holes each and one International Cricket Stadium were envisaged in the sports cities along with infrastructure for other games.
No approvals from GoUP or NCRPB
The Audit noticed that at the time of launch of the first sports city scheme during 2008, there was no category of sports city in the Master Plan- 2021. The concept of sports city was included in Master Plan-2031 which was approved by the GoUP in 2011 though notably there exists no Regional Plan 2031 corresponding to the Master Plan-2031.
NOIDA had the primary mandate for the development of an industrial township. Development of sports was not included in any of the functions mandated to NOIDA under the Act. Besides, the RP-2021 did not mention the creation of international sporting facilities in the notified area and approval was not obtained from GoUP or NCRPB for the development of sports city before its launch. NOIDA also had no policy or guidelines for the development of sports facilities and no development norms were
available. The concept of Sports City was included in the MP-2031 after the launch of the first scheme of Sports City, it said.
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