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‘Impossible’ to immediate in 15 minutes

india Updated: Jan 21, 2010 00:20 IST
Ajai Masand
Ajai Masand
Hindustan Times
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The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has given the nod for organising the shotgun camp for the Commonwealth Championships (Feb 17-28), which was not on the anvil even till Wednesday afternoon.

It is almost miraculous that, 15 minutes after Hindustan Times spoke to senior SAI officials asking them about the status of the camp, a total about-turn happened.

While earlier the SAI Director-General, Sayan Chatterjee had said, “It (organising the camp) is NRAI’s (National Rifle Association of India) problem.” However, soon after, Sports Ministry’s joint-secretary, Prabir Krishn, called HT and said, “The camp will be held from February 1 at the Dr Karni Singh Ranges. We are taking on loan 46,000 skeet and 50,000 trap cartridges from shooters and will be returning the ammo once the SAI imports its consignment,” said Krishn.

The last shotgun camp was held in November last year and the shooters have not been training since then. “The stalemate between the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) and the SAI has resulted in a paucity of cartridges and we have been told a camp is impossible,” a double-trap marksman had said earlier on Wednesday.

A top SAI official too had confirmed earlier in the day that a camp was “impossible” before the championship. “We never keep any stock. The NRAI imports on our behalf and we refund the bills. But this time around the federation has said that they will not import on our behalf, leaving us with little stocks,” he added.

The shortage of ammunition was a direct consequence of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) slapping a fine of Rs eight crore on NRAI for duty evasion on import of arms and ammunition. Subsequently, it is learnt, the NRAI’s import license was also cancelled. Krishn said: “We have asked the NRAI to return the Rs 84 lakh we have given them to procure ammunition. We will do it ourselves.”

NRAI had written a letter to SAI declaring its inability to procure cartridges because of the DRI action. A senior NRAI official said the federation had enough stock only for conducting the Commonwealth Championship.

“We used to import ammo for SAI and charge 10 per cent extra for cartage, demurrage, VAT and other taxes. Ultimately, we are the losers as we end up shelling out 3-4 per cent extra,” said the NRAI official.

“The DRI exempts import for SAI but when we give ammunition to our state associations they levy duty. There should be one norm for everyone,” the official added.