The Union Sports Minister, M.S. Gill, criticised the haphazard allotment of National Games, even when it was rarely held on time, by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), at the State Sports Ministers conference here on Tuesday.
He was upset that the IOA was acting like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in awarding the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) allotting the Commonwealth Games.
“Jharkhand has been stuck for seven years, trying to host the National Games. But three more editions have already been allotted to Kerala, Goa and Chhattisgarh. You can allot the National Games for the next 100 years, but this is not right.
“We have to judge the fairness of it. You must consult the sports ministry. The Home Ministry also has to be taken into confidence as conducting the Games involves the aspect of security”, said the minister.
Gill said that the National Games were being given like gifts to State A or B. Once it was done, the State governments make a project and seek central government assistance to the tune of “200, 400 or even 500 crore rupees”.
“This can't happen like this. There has to be a rational, sensible decision. There has to be a system”, he opined.
The minister also expressed his “horror” about an ice skating rink being proposed in Kerala. He made it clear that the government was keen to have the National Games hosted regularly and would continue to pay money for infrastructure.
He brought the attention of the State sports ministers about Madhya Pradesh winning the Rashtriya Protsahan award this year from the President during the Arjuna Awards function.
“Next year onwards we will have a regular award for a State. Please work for it from now”, he goaded the gathered ministers, even as he encouraged them to witness the Commonwealth Games for which the government was willing to make arrangements.
“We want to hear your views on what we are proposing. We have also sought written response, because many things cannot be said in limited time during a conference”, he remarked.
The minister said that the government was willing to fund even 100 per cent on infrastructure development, even if some States were unable to foot 10 per cent share of the expenditure, but requested concrete plans at a modest level.
“We want to fund hockey turfs, synthetic running tracks and an indoor hall that can be used for many games like table tennis, badminton, weightlifting etc. Don't get greedy. Ask for something reasonable. I will try to make the project bigger. We will also pay for the coaches hired to run the schemes”, he promised.
The Union Sports Ministry had gained sanction for “additional central assistance” to the tune of Rs. 60 crore from the Prime Minister for the project. “We will do everything, you have to run it properly”, Gill said.
Talking about the Panchayat Yuva Krida aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA), that has supported sports in about 6000 villages, Gill said that Rs. 185 crore had already been spent on the project this year, and that he was keen to exhaust the full budget of Rs. 430 crore. The PYKKA project had been given Rs. 92 and 135 crore in the last two years.
“About 30,000 panchayats were picked, and more than two million people participated”, he said.
The minister also highlighted the youth development and youth hostels scheme. He warned against the misuse of government property, sought efficient management of the facilities and stressed the importance of them being self-sustaining in nature.
He also praised the successful conduct of the Rajiv Gandhi adventure scheme, which meant camping for about 2000 National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers for 10 days at places ranging from the Himalayas in the north, the deserts of Rajasthan to Coonoor and Thekkady in the south.
Gill was particularly enthusiastic about the National Youth festival, and said that it would be a challenge for Udaipur in Rajasthan to host it from January 12, the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, after the bar had been set high by the brilliant efforts of Amritsar and Bhubaneswar in the last two editions.