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It happens only in India

In these times of economic prudence, profligacy is a crime. But the Sports Authority of India doesn't seem to believe in it as is evident from the Rs 1.07 crore loss it has suffered for laying an astro-turf encircled by an athletics track at the SAI Training Centre, Kandivali, reports B Shrikant.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2009 22:51 IST
B Shrikant

In these times of economic prudence, profligacy is a crime.

But the Sports Authority of India (SAI) doesn't seem to believe in it as is evident from the Rs 1.07 crore loss it has suffered for laying an astro-turf encircled by an athletics track at the SAI Training Centre (STC), Kandivali.

The decision has earned it brickbats even from the Accountant General (AG).

The AG office in Rajkot has sought an explanation from SAI HQ, Delhi in its audit report for FY 2006-07. “It is clear that the said project (at STC Kandivali) was approved without conducting proper survey/assessment,” the report said. The report noted that administrative approval and expenditure sanction was issued by SAI's New Delhi office despite objections from the Regional Director.

The project was conceived in 2006. Work started in 2007 before it was stopped after experts pointed out that the water to be used for the astro-turf could destroy the athletics track. The astro-turf was then shifted to another part of the Kandivali complex.

Work that had already been carried out, like that relating to the laying of BM Dense Bituminous Concrete, drainage, sprinklers, pump house etc., also had to be moved. The shifting of the astro-turf also required levelling of the ground and alongwith the diversion of an existing road, it costan extra Rs 96.08 lakh. The result: An extra expenditure of Rs 1.88 crore, escalation in total cost of the project (Rs 5.45 crore) and delay in setting up of the hockey ground.

Interestingly, while the track was inaugurated by the Sports Minister, M.S. Gill recently, the hockey field is yet to reach midway stage and is way behind schedule. The report also said that the new spot for hockey is unsuitable as it has steep slope on both sides that can result in loss of balls.

Land lost at STC

The plan to construct a compound wall at the STC, Kandivali has created a rift between SAI and the sports department of the Maharashtra government.

The state sports department believes constructing the wall would legitimise encroachment at STC. Sports department sources said around 15 acres of land has been lost due to encroachment.

The Maharashtra govt had provided about 58 acres to SAI in 1989 of which only 43 acres (approx) is now in SAI's control. A source said that former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had raised the issue of encroachment at STC, Kandivali, in a letter to the then Sports Minister M.S. Aiyar in June 2006, but no action has been taken so far.