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Lalit Modi: IPL will take charge of player safety
The Indian Premier League (IPL) will take full responsibility for players' safety through a centrally managed security setup for the second edition of its high profile Twenty20 league, Lalit Modi, chairman and commissioner, IPL, said in a bid to assure international players that adequate measures were being taken to make the tournament incident-free.

IPL's security budget is being increased 10-fold, Modi said. The security issue will not be left to individual franchisees, as was the case last year. IPL is consulting reputed South African agency Nicolas Steyn to work out the arrangements.

Modi, however, couldn't announce the league schedule due to the Centre's insistence on taking all IPL venue states on board before finalizing the dates and venues for the matches.

The Union Home Ministry, on its part, has sent a 'reminder' to states, which have so far not responded to its queries on whether they will be in a position to provide adequate security for the matches.

Incidentally, the reminder was sent minutes after Modi stated in Mumbai that the schedule for the matches was still being fine tuned. The matches will be held from April 10 to May 24.

Modi also announced that Ahmedabad and Visakhapatnam were two new matches venues being added this year. "Dharamsala and Nagpur are also in the fray. The schedule is still being fine-tuned,"' he said.

Elaborating on the security plan, Modi said, "From the minute a (foreign) player lands here till the time he leaves India; from the minute an Indian player enters the hotel till he leaves, we will be managing the security".

Sources in the Home Ministry said that except for Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, no state had so far responded to the Ministry's communication seeking their opinion on IPL's revised schedule.

Delhi is the only state which has expressed its ability to manage security for IPL matches provided these are held at least 48 hours before or after May 7, the polling date in the capital.

Though couple of other states including West Bengal and Rajasthan have been in consultation with the Ministry at different levels, none had given its consent in "writing" till Tuesday evening. The states which were contacted by the Ministry include Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Punjab.

Ministry officials said that IPL's announcement on making its own arrangements for players' security was, in fact, something that many states had insisted on. They said IPL organizers have promised to hire well-trained private guards for such duties besides installing high tech gadgets at venues where the players would be staying, training and playing.

The state police, with the help of paramilitary forces, will provide security cover at stadiums as well as sanitize the routes to be taken by team members. The Home Ministry had earlier indicated that additional central forces could be managed if the requirement was not more than 2,000 personnel, as each of the four paramilitary forces contacted were in a position to spare 500 men.

Sriprakash Jaiswal, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs said, "Sparing paramilitary forces in April may not be a problem but it could get difficult in May." This indicates that more matches will be held in April.

Sounding optimistic about the IPL matches, Jaiswal said although security threats exist, things could be worked out if the IPL functionaries gave a suitable schedule. IPL's security has become a major issue after the Lahore terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers, six of whom were injured, and last year's Mumbai carnage.

Asked about the reported apprehensions of foreign players and the host state governments, Modi said, "No foreign player has so far contacted IPL to say that he is apprehensive. They have never been uncomfortable about coming here. India is not Pakistan, we are a safe country," he said.

Modi also rejected the Federation of International Cricketers Association's demands for a say in the security arrangements for IPL. "The IPL is conducted by BCCI and the BCCI talks directly to the boards. We have never been in touch with FICA. But, of course, they will talk to other boards and coordinate with them," he said.

The opening and closing ceremonies as well as the inaugural and summit ties of the April 10-May 24 event would be held at the DY Patil Stadium in Nerul, Navi Mumbai. Modi revealed that Chennai, home to last year's semifinalists Chennai Super Kings, will not get to host all seven of its planned games.

"There are a few blackout dates involved because of the elections. So they will not be hosting all seven of their matches," he said.

Modi said tenders have been floated for multiplexes vying to show live telecast of the IPL matches but with a clause. "If Mumbai is hosting a match, then the multiplexes there cannot show that match on that day, they will have to show the match going on in some other city," he said.

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