Vikash Sharma

After being embroiled in controversy, the foundation stone for the renovation and redevelopment of the historic Barabati stadium at Cuttack was finally laid. Built during 1950s, it is one of the oldest sports venues in the country.

Prior to the grand event held on Tuesday, a political slugfest erupted with several political parties including BJP and Congress seeing red behind Odisha government’s move to demolish the iconic Barabati stadium to pave the way for a massive infrastructural boost.

Former Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) Secretary Ashirbad Behera had to intervene and pacify the storm by claiming that the stadium would be renovated and the iconic structures would not be demolished. He went on to add that some portions of the stadium have become weak and hence, they need immediate restoration.

With crucial 2024 general elections round the corner, all eyes are now on the next move by the Opposition parties, especially the BJP.

Will Barabati Stadium Issue Become A Political Issue?

Will the Saffron party take up the Barabati stadium issue to corner the BJD government, as it is trying hard to dethrone the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha by raising several such issues.

As Barabati stadium is linked to the emotions of scores of people of Odisha, especially of Cuttack, it will be interesting to watch whether the BJP takes up an aggressive stand by invoking the ‘Cuttack Pride’ issue? This comes in the backdrop of alleged conspiracy to shift prominent offices from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar in the past.

Also Read: Barabati Cricket Stadium renovation: Foundation stone laid for project

Eyes will also be on the Congress leadership at the state-level as to how they play the Barabati card during the upcoming election as there is a mixed response to infrastructural development proposed among several sections in the society.

Congress’ Barabati-Cuttack MLA Mohammed Moquim recently said that there was absolutely no logic in demolishing the stadium on the plea that it has become weak. The state government can either go for renovation or construct an international standard stadium at another location, if needed, he said.

BJP leader Sritam Das said, “Be it football or other sports, Cuttack has produced several players in the past. We do not have any problem with the renovation of Barabati Stadium. But demolishing the stadium and wiping out historical events associated with it is not justified. Barabati was constructed for all sports, not just cricket.”

What Is The Proposed Plans For Barabati Stadium? 

The Odisha government plans to revamp Barabati Stadium into a world-class sports complex with all modern facilities. A budget of around Rs 700 crore has been earmarked for the mega project.

From the existing 42,000, the seating capacity for the audience at Barabati will be increased to 60,000.

It has been learnt that OCA has already prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) following a green signal by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Also Read: Massive plans for Cuttack Barabati Stadium’s transformation into world-class sports campus

Other Highlights Of the Barabati Transformation Project

A retail mall along with a 5-star hotel and office spaces will come up in the area adjacent to Barabati stadium.

The area in front of the stadium will be developed as a public plaza. It is said that it could become one of the main open public spaces for the people of Cuttack.