Board's RTI adds to animosity with ministry

Jasvinder Sidhu

New Delhi, Nov. 20 -- The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) might have ruffled the sports ministry's feathers by asking for details about the Rs. 50 crore it contributed to the government's National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) four years back.

The BCCI had stumped the ministry a few weeks back by filing a Right to Information (RTI) application, seeking details on how its contribution to the development of Olympic disciplines had been utilised.

Sources in the ministry said that the RTI application had not done any good to the already strained relations between the BCCI and the ministry.

The government wants the BCCI to disclose its accounts under the RTI Act and also accept the proposed sports bill, while the cash-rich board is vehemently opposed to both the demands.

Though the ministry has replied to all the queries listed by the BCCI chief administration officer, Ratnakar Shetty, it has touched a raw nerve of the ministry.

Not alone

"We are grateful to the BCCI for contributing Rs. 50 crore to the NSDF. But there are other contributors as well. Since the BCCI has made contributions, they have every right to know what has happen to the money and we are duty-bound to give them the details," said sports secretary, Pradeep Kumar Deb.

In June, the BCCI had sent a communication to the ministry seeking details on the joint fund called BEST (BCCI-NSDF Elite Sports Talent), which was created in 2008 to help athletes prepare for the London Olympics and other international events.

Deb agreed that a request was made in June. "Yes, the BCCI had asked for the details in June too, but we were waiting for the CAG-approved audit on NDSF. Now that we have three CAG-audited reports, there is no issue with sharing the details with them (BCCI)," said Deb.

In its letter, the BCCI had also asked for the constitution of the BCCI-NSDF Implementation Committee (BNIC), but the ministry did not entertain the request.

"The NSDF has a board that includes all donors. The BCCI should be a representative on the said board. We will ask them to send one in the next meeting," said Deb.

The ministry recently released its annual report (2011-2012), which contains the list of contributors. Since 1998-1999, a number of institutions, banks, the private sector and individuals have been giving money to NDSF. There is a year-wise list of athletes who have received assistance under the scheme. The report is available on the ministry's website.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.