No security compromise at Wankhede: Shetty

Mumbai: Seeking to allay fears expressed by the city’s fire department about the safety norms at the Wankhede stadium, World Cup tournament director Ratnakar Shetty on Sunday said security and safety of people would not be compromised while staging matches at the venue.

“When we build a stadium, we take care of each and every person who will come to the stadium. And there would be no compromises in anything required by the government or any agencies,” Shetty told reporters who were taken around the renovated stadium.

“Every permission that is required will be obtained and without that you cannot have a stadium. You cannot organize a match. But getting permission is a procedure. It does not happen that you go to a counter and say now give me a NOC. There is a procedure which is followed and permissions are taken in a sequence.

“Rest assured, all permissions will be in hand, all things required from the fire department and the NOC (no objection certificate). What is required is the compliance at the new areas like the basement at the north stand which will house the control room for the television and the media conference room,” he said.

Expressing displeasure at the non-compliance of fire safety norms at the revamped Wankhede stadium, city’s Fire Brigade department had last week said that it would seek a reply from the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) in this regard.

Asked about the concerns that the renovated stadium had not hosted a single practice match ahead of the World Cup, Shetty said, “There are enough cricket experts in our committee, who are monitoring the wicket, who are monitoring the outfield. The curator on whom we have great faith has always given great wickets. There should be no speculation on that front.”

Admitting that the top-level at the North and South End of the stadiums was steep, Shetty said, “But we have taken precautions in terms of hand-rails and the railing in front of the seats and all protective measures which are necessary for the spectators.”

Wankhede Stadium, that went into the renovation mode soon after the conclusion of the Indian Premier League on June 1, 2008, is to stage two other World Cup ties, apart from the summit contest on April 2.

The matches would be held on March 13 (New Zealand v Canada - a day match) and March 18 (New Zealand v Sri Lanka - a day/night match).

Shetty said the online sale for the 1,000 World Cup final tickets will begin from tomorrow.

However, he said that due to various contractual obligations, only about 3,000 tickets of the final would be available for window sales.

About 8,500 will be handed over to the ICC and 20,000 tickets will be distributed amongst the Garware Club House and various clubs and gymkhanas affiliated with the Mumbai Cricket Association.

On the prices of tickets for the first two games, Shetty, who is also the MCA treasurer, said, “The North stand ticket for the New Zealand-Canada game is Rs 500, clubs would be getting it at Rs 300. For New Zealand-Sri Lanka game it is Rs 700. The online tickets will be for the Sunil Gavaskar upper and the Vitthal Divecha stand.”

“Non-India nation matches to be very honest is a matter of concern for us. Particularly the matches that start at 9.30 am. India is a country which has great passion for cricket but only when India is playing. And therefore, to expect full house for non-India matches at the 9.30 games would be unrealistic.”

“Nevertheless, as the match proceeds on Sunday (New Zealand vs Kenya), I think the match was too short for anything to happen actually. During the day also people will come, they would like to look at the stadium we will make efforts for the crowd to be present for the non-India games and I’m sure there will be numbers.”

Shetty further said that as a special gesture, school and college students will be given free admission for the first two World Cup ties at the Wankhede stadium on showing their I-D cards.

To a query on security for the event, Shetty said, “The Union Home ministry has made great efforts. The security for all the 29 matches to be played in India would be regulated from Delhi by the Home Ministry. Instructions are coming directly to the police at all venues and as we are one of the venues, we will abide by that.”