Nagpur News: The die-hard Nagpur cricket fans would miss the India-Australia Day/Night One Day International (ODI) Match if and only if NMC’s Fire Brigade sticks to its tough stand. The Fire Brigade has already put the VCA on notice by refusing permission for hosting the match. The Vidarbha Cricket Association, in a great bungle, totally forgot to seek No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Fire Brigade thus jeopardizing the very hosting of the ODI.
The sixth ODI of the India-Australia One Dayer Series has been slated to be played at VCA’s Jamtha Stadium. The VCA has made or making the necessary arrangements for successfully hosting the thrilling Day/Night ODI between the arch rivals who never missed sledging with “Monkeygate” episode still fresh in the minds of cricket buffs. The “Monkeygate” was carved out by India’s ace spin bowler Harbhajan Singh and Australia’s Andrew Symonds by resorting to choicest racial remarks by both during India-Australia ODI Series played in Australia. But the past is past.
At present, the VCA has found itself in the slippery grounds by fumbling to seek NOC from the NMC’s Fire Brigade. The VCA, thinking “Better late than never” hurriedly approached the Fire Brigade Department on Wednesday for NOC. But, it appears, was too late. The Fire Brigade, rightfully rejected the NOC on the grounds that VCA’s Jamtha Stadium has not a single firefighting equipment to deal with the tragedy if it were to happen during the match. Now, no NOC, no match is the simple equation.
The Nagpur fans have now focused their sights on the solution, and the ODI, too. The VCA has botched up. But it is international match. A serious business. The ball may go to the “Third Umpire” BCCI’s court. Till then the “Decision is Pending.”
THE 1995 TRAGEDY:
The Fire Brigade’s blunt refusal to issue NOC is not a bolt from the skies. It has a reason.
It may be recalled, thirteen cricket fans were killed and 50 injured when a wall collapsed at the Vidarbha Cricket Association’s Civil Lines Ground in Nagpur during a one-day international between India and New Zealand on November 26, 1995.
The disaster happened during the lunch interval when, according to reports, spectators from the third tier of the East Stand were rushing down and those from the second tier were going up to try to get a better view. The staircase wall gave way under the pressure of people. Three youngsters were killed immediately when they plunged 15 metres to the ground and five others were killed on the spot as huge debris of the collapsed portions crushed them. Five fans later died in hospital. Four cricket fans had already been killed in a car crash while on their way to the ground.
The wall had only just been built as part of an extension constructed in preparation for the 1996 World Cup which was hosted by India and Pakistan jointly. It had been built without reinforcement and four people, including the architect and contractor, were charged with negligence. VCA officials decided to continue the match, despite protests from some fans. The players were not told and New Zealand went on to win the match.