Hub of sports: A view of the Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Stadiumin Vijayawada. –

Hub of sports: A view of the Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Stadiumin Vijayawada. –  

J.R. Shridharan

Vijayawada’s sports infrastructure cries for attention

VIJAYAWADA: If good roads are a sign of civilisation as a saying goes, it can also probably be said that good and well-maintained infrastructure for sports is an important sign of a healthy society.

In respect of Vijayawada, it is evident that the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has been on the right track of accomplishing this goal by steadily creating classy sports infrastructure. At this rate, the city, in the days to come, may well emerge as a hub for big national and international sporting events.

Three swimming pools (one each at Gandhinagar, Chittinagar and Gurunanak Colony), two indoor stadiums (Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao Indoor Stadium and Patamata Indoor Stadium) and two outdoor stadiums (Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Stadium and Makineni Basavapunnaiah Municipal Corporation Stadium) are the major sporting facilities created by the VMC for the development of sports and games in the city.

But what disturbs many is the manner in which these facilities are being maintained. Waiting to be given a facelift, many of these structures present a pathetic look.

The DRR Indoor Stadium, which was built to promote indoor games in the early 80s, hosted many national and international events. However, no comprehensive renovation work, such as relaying of roof, changing of wooden floorings and improvement of illumination inside the stadium, has been taken up in the last two decades. Come monsoon, seepage plays spoilsport, damaging the flooring meant for badminton.

“The wooden flooring has lost its sheen and grip. The flooring is slippery and is bound to cause injuries to players. During rainy season, water leaks profusely from the roof. Out of the 300-and-odd tube lights in the hall, about 50 to 60 are non-functional. The toilets are badly maintained, especially during a mega event,” says badminton coach P. Rajesh.

And the less said the better about the Patamata Indoor Stadium, whose structural design leaves much to be desired. The stadium, constructed at a cost of Rs 1.92 crores, defies all standards of a quality indoor stadium. A huge tank that used to exist on the site was later used as a dumping yard by the corporation. This low ground level of the site continues to have a telling impact on the playing conditions.

Major flaw

“Making a provision for the playing arena at a lower level than the ground floor is a major flaw. The frequent seepage of ground water is proving to be a deterrent to any activity. It also lacks proper ventilation. Even the material used for the construction is substandard,” admits District Sports Development Officer B. Sudhakar. Due to moisture in the ground, many wooden planks project swollen look and several ups and downs are witnessed on the badminton courts. Playing on this surface is a nightmare to players.

One look around the stadium brings to fore the negligence and shortsightedness of the administrators. Sewage and rain water from the neighbouring areas enter the parking area and from there to the playing arena.

The Makineni Basava Punniah Stadium at Ajit Singh Nagar has certainly come as a boon to the sports lovers of the area. The stadium acted as a catalyst to a series of sports activities, especially in hockey, table tennis and badminton. A couple of State players in table tennis emerged from here. “The immediate requirement of the stadium is construction of one more floor on the existing structure, which can be used for the accommodation of players. The VMC can use funds available under the Basic Services for Urban Poor sub-mission of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM),” says local corporator G. Ramana.

These facilities notwithstanding, the Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation (IGMC) Stadium on MG Road continues to be hub of all sports activities in the city, with a majority of the sports associations operating from here. Thanks to the initiative of the then VMC Commissioner Sameer Sharma, the stadium hit the world map of cricket, for he was instrumental in the construction of galleries of a capacity of 25,000 spectators. But controversies often surround the stadium, with VMC Commissioner Natarajan Gulzar not so willing to let games other than cricket to be practised or hosted. The decision causes much heartburn to players and administrators of various disciplines, as IGMC Stadium is the only big and centrally located stadium in the city.

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