The Sports Tower at Gachibowli, constructed to accommodate participants during the Military Games held in the city in 2007, seems to have turned into a white elephant. An RTI query by a group of youngsters has revealed that the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) spends Rs 11.5 lakh annually on its maintenance. It had shelled out Rs 78 crore for its construction and of that amount, Rs 48 crore was raised in the form of a loan from the Punjab National Bank. However, in three years from 2007-10, it had paid Rs 11 crore as interest.
The youngsters, who filed the RTI, are from a voluntary organisation called, It’s Time to Make a Difference (ITMD). They believe that the SAAP is simply wasting taxpayer’s money and argue that the tower, if it is in proper condition, could have been used to accommodate delegates arriving for the forthcoming bio-diversity conference. The sports tower was used only for about a week during the Military Games and since then, it has been lying vacant even though several national and State level events were organized in Hyderabad.
According to Sameer, a member of ITMD, the State government has released to SAAP a sum of Rs 21,63,39,000 (Rs 7,32,88,000 for 2010-11 and Rs 14,30,51,000 for 2011-12) as principal and interest for repayment of loan due to PNB.
The Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh recently issued notifications in a vernacular newspaper for letting the space for commercial leasing. But the building, despite the huge maintenance costs, is in no condition to accommodate anyone.
Its walls are brittle and windows broken and several works are still incomplete! According to ITMD representatives, the power and water supply were cancelled soon after the games in 2007. At that time, it was decided to use the first three floors as sports hostels and the rest of the building as a hotel. And six of the floors were constructed after the games.
As many as 13 people are employed for the maintenance of the tower and most of the furniture inside has been shifted to district sports complexes.
However, according to SAAP officials, only some finishing works were left in the tower and tenders were called twice before in June 2008 and January 2009 to find occupants for the tower. They hesitated to comment further.