After allocating Rs 700 crore for the preparation of athletes for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, is the Sports Ministry facing shortage of funds for its other schemes supporting upcoming players? Or has it diverted funds from other heads to support the training of India's elite athletes for the mega event?
Here are some facts: The Sports Authority of India's (SAI) Northern Regional Centre trainees under the day boarding schemes have not got monthly stipends for the last 10 months. As per the SAI scheme for day boarders, a sportsperson is entitled to a monthly stipend of Rs 600 for 10 months in a year. Wrestlers under the adopted akhara scheme are entitled to Rs 1,000 per month.
But in Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Jammu and Kashmir, no day scholar trainee has received stipend for at least five-six months in the previous financial year. In fact, they have not received a paisa in the current fiscal year as well.
"The day boarding trainees attached with our centre are not getting stipend since October last. The stipend is a form of financial help to upcoming players, as a majority of them are not from well-off families. So, even Rs 600 per month is decent help for them," said a SAI coach on condition of anonymity.
There are five akharas in Haryana and Punjab that have been adopted by SAI and around 200 wrestlers come under the day boarding scheme. Many of the wrestlers in these akharas are medal winners in the cadet and junior categories at the international level.
Until the last financial year, all the four states and Chandigarh were attached to the Sonepat centre, but from this year onwards, barring Haryana all other centres are being controlled by Northern Centre, Chandigarh. There is a last year's stipend liability of around Rs 25-27 lakh on the Sonepat centre.
Confirming this, a Delhi-based SAI official said, "We had received a representation from the Chandigarh centre last year. The day boarders at the centre have to get around Rs 18 lakh stipend for the last financial year." When contacted, Sonepat centre director, Mukesh Kumar said, "I have taken charge only yesterday… I am looking into the matter. Things will be sorted out soon."