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Ministry has coaches crying out

The 15-odd shooting coaches associated with the 'core group' and training India's best marksmen for the 2010 Commonwealth Games have not been paid for the last three months. Ajai Masand & Saurabh Duggal report.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2009 00:50 IST

The coaches are calling it “bonded labour”, but the Sports Ministry and Sports Authority of India (SAI) are refusing to blink. The 15-odd shooting coaches associated with the 'core group' and training India's best marksmen for the 2010 Commonwealth Games have not been paid for the last three months or more despite having signed an undertaking for “fulltime” commitment.

The matter came to light when some of the coaches, currently with the national camp in Pune, raised their voice and told HT that they were even contemplating leaving the job.

“All of us, barring national coach Sunny Thomas, have not received a paisa from the government for the work we have been putting in to prepare the 150-odd core group shooters,” a rifle coach said from Pune.

“First, we were made to sign an undertaking, pledging 305 days in a year to fulltime coaching. After that an agreement was prepared on stamp paper, which we duly signed. Strangely, we were also told to disclose our other sources of income. But after that we have been left high and dry,” another coach said.

“We were running from one department to another in the ministry after which we had to leave Delhi for Pune. I think a majority of the coaches associated with other core groups haven't received any remunerations as well,” a shotgun coach said.

“One team has already left Indian shores to participate in the World Cup, while another will be leaving shortly for the World Cup in Germany. How do we train them when we ourselves don't know our fate. Tomorrow, the ministry might say, 'we'll give you a lump sum rather than the Rs 30,000 we are entitled to under the contract',” a pistol coach said.

As per ministry guidelines, a copy of which is with HT, “It will be the duty of SAI to engage the coaches (Indian and foreign) and other supporting staff on the terms finalised by the (ministry's) steering committee and disburse salaries to them and other supporting staff and maintain appropriate records.”

“The most disturbing thing about the contract is that it is mandatory to disclose details of employment, its nature and compensation package.

“If an assistant coach is a pensioner, he will only get the balance amount that adds up to Rs 30,000. This is ridiculous.”

“The ministry is paying foreign coaches hundreds of dollars by the hour — or day — and asking us to give away our other source of livelihood. What will we do once the Games are over?” the coach said.

When contacted, SAI director-general, Sayan Chatterjee, said, “I don't talk to journalists.” The project officer for shooting, Satish Rana, said action had been initiated and the contracts would be ready soon.

NRAI secretary-general, Baljeet Sethi, conceded the coaches hadn't been paid, and added that the clause for disclosing income was “strange”.