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India’s Formula 1 track shut by land authority

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull Racing exits the pitlane during the final practice session prior to qualifying for the Indian Formula One Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit on October 26, 2013 in Noida, India. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Buddh International Circuit, the venue for Formula 1 races in India between 2011 and 2013, has been closed off by landowner Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (Yeida) due to debts owed by the track’s operator Jaypee Infratech Limited.

The Hindustan Times reported that Yeida was preparing to auction the property to recover the money owed to it.

The paper reported that a spokesperson for Jaypee Infratech said the company would challenge Yeida’s action in court “on the grounds that the lack of fulfilment of obligations on [the] part of [the] authority has come in the way of completing the project, whereas 90 per cent [of] obligations have been met by the company”.

Jaypee Infratech leased 1,000 hectares of land from Yeida on which it built the circuit and several other sports facilities, including a cricket stadium. Yeida decided on December 21 to cancel the lease due to a failure to make payments due under it.

The Hindustan Times reported that Jaypee Infratech has been facing insolvency proceedings since 2017 and had failed to pay Yeida for several years. The newspaper said other Jaypee Infratech infrastructure projects have also had financial problems. Jaypee Infratech is part of conglomerate Jaypee Group.

KK Singh, general manager (projects) at Yeida told the Hindustan Times: “A team of officials sealed multiple gates of the motor racing circuit as the developer has failed to clear financial dues. We have sealed the Formula One circuit so that the Jaypee Group does not use the property for commercial gains. All the projects located inside the Formula One circuit remains sealed now.”

The Jaypee Infratech spokesperson said the closure of the circuit was “regressive as the racing track infrastructure that hosted the F1 race, and had put India and the state of Uttar Pradesh on the global racing map, is being cancelled. Such a move will be detrimental to attracting investment in the country and the state. Jaypee has completed 90% of its obligations by way of depositing Rs 2,400 crores ($336m) towards land payment till date. Further, the company invested Rs 2,000 crores towards construction of motor race track and other related developments such as cricket stadium, etc.”

Buddh International Circuit is the only track in India ever to have hosted a Formula 1 grand prix.