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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Neglected synthetic track being used as picnic spot, allege athletes

Punkaj Bhaartiya, Hindustan Times  Hamirpur , July 21, 2013
First Published: 19:46 IST(21/7/2013) | Last Updated: 19:48 IST(21/7/2013)

Even as officials claim that the state government is doing its best to promote sports in Himachal Pradesh, the ground reality seems to be different.

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The world-class 400-m synthetic track, which was constructed here at a cost of Rs. 6.5 crore, is in a state of neglect, with no staff to take care of its upkeep, whereas similar structures across the country employ three to four athletics coaches, groundsmen and other staff.Athletes claimed that the locals were using the track as a picnic spot and could be seen strolling around the track in the evenings.

"Children play on the track all day and have damaged parts of it to some extent. Sand from the ongoing construction work has spilled over on to parts of the track, thus hampering our training," they alleged.

Budding athletes from the local government college Maheep Singh and Sonika said a large amount of money spent on the construction of the track was being wasted, as it was not being maintained, making it hard for them to train there.

Sources said even though the track is in control of the department of youth welfare and sports, it is yet to be handed over to them.

The construction work on a stadium to house the office of the department is also going on at a snail's pace, with no definite date of completion.

Youth welfare and sports department additional director Suman Rawat Mehta claimed the government was doing its best to help promote sports in state.
"The construction work for the stadium is going on, and would be completed shortly," she said.

She added that the department would appoint coaches and other supporting staff after approval from the government.
Synthetic tracks have been constructed in Hamirpur and Dharamsala, funds for which were provided by cement companies.

Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who had promised the track during his previous regime, had inaugurated the track in Hamirpur on August 7 last year.

The synthetic track has facilities for other sports, including hammer throw, discus throw, shot put, pole vault, long jump, high jump, triple jump and javelin throw. The track has hosted various state-level championships, Himachal Pradesh University's (HPU) annual athletic meet and Himachal Pradesh School State Athletics Championship.


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