Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: One of the salient features of the Karnataka State Government’s budget announced on February 21 was the enhancement of cash awards for sportspersons winning gold, silver and bronze at National-level events. A gold would fetch Rs. one lakh, silver Rs. 50,000 and a bronze Rs. 25,000.

Though the move has been welcomed, it has also been taken with pinch of salt as none of the past cash awards announced for National Games winners and other major meets have been disbursed on time and at times the amount given has been far less than the ones announced.

Honour the promise

“I wish they keep up the word on these incentives,” said the Olympian swimmer Nisha Millet. She pointed out to the fact that the winners of gold in of 1997 and 1999 National Games were promised Rs. one lakh for each gold. “I won 14 golds at Manipur Games (1999), the highest by an athlete, and that means I should have got Rs. 14 lakh for my efforts. But what I finally got was Rs. 10,000 per gold,” said Nisha..

Similar was the case with ace cueist Pankaj Advani, who received a fraction of what was announced, following the World title triumph in 2007-08. Till the full cheques are on hand, mere announcements are not going to evoke much enthusiasm among the State sportspersons.

The budget also makes an allocation Rs. 50,000 for anyone training for international meets. This again, point out sportspersons, comes only after the due date. Many have been made to run from pillar to post for the timely release of funds. A welcome move in the budgetary allocations provides for upgrading of sports facilities and development of sports school at the cost of Rs. 22 crore and establishment of synthetic hockey turf in Coorg.

The Karnataka Olympic Association, while welcoming the allocations for sports, also pointed out few lacunae. K. Govindraj, president of the KOA, said, “the hike in cash incentives is a much needed move and I agree it should be time-bound and sportspersons are recognised as soon as the event is over.”

He, however, expressed disappointment, that KOA’s plea on State Olympics has not been taken into cognisance. “We had sought firm commitment on the Games,” he said.

The State Olympics, which was scheduled to be held at the fag end of last year, had been postponed, due to a delay in the upgradation of infrastructure. It was supposed to be a prelude to the much postponed National Youth Games, scheduled to be conducted in the State.

Another disappointing aspect of the budget was a 10 per cent tax raise on tickets for sporting events with entertainment value such as IPL. Fans for IPL matches at Bangalore are bound to shell out more and it is bound to hit marketing of IPL here.

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