The much-awaited renovation of the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex commenced on Monday. The work, taken up at a cost of Rs. 7.5 crore, would be completed by December this year.

Union Minister of State for Planning, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture V. Narayansamy inaugurated the renovation and improvement works in the presence of Lieutenant Governor Iqbal Singh and Chief Minister V. Vaithilingam.

Launching the work, Mr Narayanasamy appealed to the territorial administration to separate the functioning of Sports Council from the Education Department.

For effective implementation and monitoring of various schemes aimed to improve sporting scenario, a separate Department should be created, he stressed.

The administration should also consider providing reservation for sportsmen in government jobs and higher educational institutions. Pointing out that the United Progressive Alliance government was keen to improve sporting facility and attract more youth to sports, he said the Centre had earmarked Rs 4500 crore in the current annual budget.

The Lieutenant Governor, who distributed cash awards to meritorious sports persons from UT at the function, said “to produce sportsmen who can develop skills and talent to compete internationally, we need to develop requisite sports infrastructure, equipment and coaching facilities.”

Learning experience

Explaining the benefits of indulging in sporting activity, he said “sports provide a positive learning experience, which will enhance the ability of the child to develop self confidence, discipline, sacrifice, good sportsmanship and team work.”

These qualities would help them become responsible citizens and contribute towards development of the nation, Mr. Singh added.

Responding to the demand for separate Sports Department, the Chief Minister said steps were being taken to create such a wing. The demands for creating separate Departments for Muslims and backward classes would also be favourably considered.

Revenue Minister Malladi Krishna Rao, who also holds Sports portfolio, said though the government announced cash awards to sports persons who excelled in international and national events in 2003, it was not given due to funds crunch.

The government had sanctioned Rs 1.6 crore for providing cash awards to 316 persons.

The awards were given to sports persons in the field of Athletics, Volleyball, Kho-Kho, Tenni-Koit, Weightlifting, Power lifting, Chess, Atya-Patya, Boxing and Karate.

The government would need another Rs 6.4 crore to cover the remaining sports persons, Mr Rao said.

Others who attended the function included Public Works Minister Malladi Krishna Rao, Member of the Legislative Assembly A. Anbalagan and Chief Secretary S. Chandramohan.