Chief minister Harish Rawat promised on Friday the “highest increase” in the sport budget and announced a slew of steps for sports promotion in an attempt to reach out to the youth ahead of the assembly election.
“Our budgetary allocation for sports will be the highest…It will be more than what we spend in the education sector,” Rawat announced at the state’s first students’ parliament organised by the sports department.
Students from more than a dozen private and state-run girls’ and boys’ schools from Dehradun participated in the Chhatra Sansad. They asked questions to the chief minister about the sports sector not looking up and offered suggestions for its promotion.
Rawat confessed to being stumped when a student asked him why government circulars issued to state-run schools were not sent to private ones. “I stand clean bowled by this fast-paced bouncer,” he said jocularly and asked officials present to take note of the suggestion. Rawat assured the student that he would ensure that her complaint was resolved at the earliest.
To another query, he said steps for sports promotion in state-run schools would be applicable to privately run schools. Rawat directed the officials that the sports policy should enable girl students to enter martial arts schools. The direction came after a student asked why girls were not encouraged to participate in martial arts.
“Neither are our daughters weak nor is their performance below par,” he said. “It (that girls are weak) may be a perception but our daughters are proving such an opinion wrong by making their mark in the national and international sporting events.”
Rawat admitted that “too much politics in our state” was the reason behind the local cricket associations not being able to host Ranji Trophy matches. “Efforts are on to bring the representatives of these (cricket) associations on one platform so that their differences could be resolved and Ranji matches organised.”
State sports minister Dinesh Aggrawal said the local cricket bodies awaiting recognition by the Board of Control for Cricket in India was the reason behind the Ranji matches not being held in the state.
Rawat agreed that youths were forced to relocate due to lack of adequate sporting facilities in the state’s hill areas. “We are trying to get rid of this stigma of forced migration,” he said, referring to the government’s initiative to set up model schools equipped with quality sporting and academic facilities.
“Nearly 4000 sports grounds have been created in rural areas as part of our efforts to create sporting infrastructure for the national games we are going to host in 2018,” Rawat said, adding that sports grounds would go up to 5000 by 2017. “International stadiums coming up in Dehradun and Haldwani would be dedicated to public soon.”