Things seem to be getting better for the two hockey academies located inside the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, after the sports ministry quashed the letter of termination that was sent to them by the Sports Authority of India.
Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar met SAI director-general RP Watal and joint secretary (sports) on Friday evening, along with representatives from the two academies, and directed SAI not to force the academies out.
The two academies — the Air India Hockey Academy and the Punjab National Bank Academy — had been asked to vacate the stadium premises by September 15, for renovation work for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The decision means the two academies, for now, can continue with their routine activities.
"The minister was very supportive of our cause. We have been told we can use the outside turf till the actual renovation work begins inside the stadium. There is now no deadline to it," said an AIHA official.
"It is a great relief to us since we had no where else to move to at such a short notice. It's now up to the SAI officials. Only after they meet CPWD officials and decide on the actual date of starting the construction will we have to move," he added.
Watal, when contacted, admitted that there was no deadline as of now for the academies to move out. "But we have to look at long-term options. They can practice until the heavy equipment do not start rolling in for actual work. We need to relay the two existing turfs and add another one, so it will be difficult for them to continue after that. But, for the time being, there is no deadline to vacate the premises," he said.
The minister also assured the academies that, if they decide on an alternative venue, the government would pay 50 per cent of the cost of a new turf to be installed. The academies also have the option of moving to an adjacent piece of land inside the stadium complex. The said area is outside the CPWD's plan for the CWG.