A week ahead of the much-awaited penultimate Test match of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar at the Eden Gardens, the local staging association and the city civic body are involved in a spat over payment of amusement tax.
The dispute started after the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) demanded the tax for the Nov 6-10 India-West Indies match as also the outstanding dues. According to the KMC, the total outstanding has soared to over Rs.3 crore.
The KMC arrived at the amount by levying Rs.15 for every seat per day of the five-day match in the 65,000-capacity stadium. According to the civic body, the outstanding dues for previous matches at the ground total Rs.2.66 crore.
The CAB, however, has claimed that the stadium was owned by the defence ministry and that part of the Kolkata Maidan was part of the Cantonment Area. "The Cantonment area is outside the jurisdiction of the local municipal authority," CAB Joint Secretary Subir Ganguly said in a letter to KMC.
"The stalemate is yet to be resolved. We are not a profit-making body. Our organisation's only work is to develop the game of cricket in West Bengal," Ganguly told IANS.
However, Mayor Sovan Chatterjee refused to buy the argument. "They should pay up. We provide lot of services like conservancy and drainage. And we are not unreasonable. During the IPL we reduced the amount on request. If the CAB does not fall in line, it should be prepared for the consequences."
Deputy Mayor Farzana Alam said the KMC legal department was preparing a response to Ganguly's letter. "If the CAB says that we have no right to levy the tax, then I can also say we have no duty to dispose off the garbage, or take care of the drainage."
"The CAB is arguing it won't pay us as we have no jurisdiction over the land on which the stadium stands. This does not hold water. By the same logic, no film auditoria, fair organisers or hotels should also pay us amusement tax. The CAB makes crores from these matches, but when it comes to paying taxes, it comes up with such illogical logic," Alam told IANS.