Indian Grand Prix hits roadblock

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2009, 13:09 PM IST

New Delhi: The 2011 Indian Grand Prix has
hit a roadblock with the promoters of the event failing to get
the government nod for remitting the money they owe to the
UK-based Formula One Administration.

With the Sports Ministry denying JPSK Sports, promoters
of the Indian Grand Prix, the approval to remit USD 36.5
million to the Formula One management, speculation is rife
about the fate of the event and the hushed silence of the
organisers are not helping their cause either.

JPSK Sports Managing Director Samir Gaur simply refused
to entertain any query when asked for his version.

"You have seen what has appeared in the media and I have
nothing more to add," he said curtly.

Officials in the Sports Ministry maintained it`s just not
a simple case of giving the nod to a remittance since it
involves the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Joint Secretary I Srinivas said the Ministry did not okay
the remittance because it did not look justifiable.

"Strictly in this context and under FEMA, the Ministry
did not find the remittance desirable. They sought our
recommendation for an outflow of nearly Rs 200 crore which the
Ministry felt was not justified for a motor race," Srinivas
told reporters.

"We had to take a call on the matter and we took the call
that it`s not desirable," he added.

Another Sports Ministry official, requesting anonymity,
put it more succinctly.

"Tell me how many people in India bother about
motorsport? It`s a too niche and too elitist sport, if you can
call it a sport in the first place," he said.

"In their proposal, they talked how the Indian Grand Prix
would woo tourists and boost tourism. If that`s the case, why
don`t they approach the Tourism Ministry instead of knocking
Sports Ministry`s door?" he said.

The Indian Grand Prix hit one roadblock after another
since its inception.

Once the track was earmarked, there was lot of confusion
about who would run the show in the country.

Rather surprisingly, Indian Olympic Association President
Suresh Kalmadi took a lot of interest in this non-Olympic
event and announced that IOA would be the promoter of the
event in the country.

Subsequently, German F1 architect Hermann Tilke, who has
designed F1 circuits in Malaysia, Bahrain, China, Turkey,
Spain and Singapore, surveyed the proposed site.

Land acquisition became another time-consuming affair and
the organisers had to defer the Indian Grand Prix by a year
from its original 2010 schedule.

Not much of action was seen after that till Kalmadi`s son
Sumeer`s role in JPSK Sports came into light recently and IOA
hurriedly issued a press release, claiming it had given up the
facilitator`s role two years back and has nothing to do with
the venture now.

Kalmadi Jr is a director at Sulba Realty Private Limited
which has some stakes in JPSK Sports Private Limited.

Bureau Report