Parched at SAI: Seeking an end to dry spell | india | Hindustan Times
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Parched at SAI: Seeking an end to dry spell

The Sports Authority of India is long been condemned for failing to provide athletes with basic amenities. Deepika Sharma takes a closer look at the matter.

india Updated: Jul 15, 2006 01:48 IST

The Sports Authority of India does not stay away from controversies for too long. Last week — July 7 to be precise — over 400 Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium employees held a demonstration in front of the SAI secretary's office, to make him aware of the poor and unhygienic conditions at the Stadium.

Demonstrations over, Sinha made some promises and the chapter was deemed closed. However, the employees were back on Thursday holding a general meeting to discuss the same issues, but the situation turned ugly when the secretary, BK Sinha, called the police to halt the proceedings.

“There is nothing wrong in holding a peaceful meeting of staff members… why did the secretary call the police?” the president of the SAI Employees Association, Manjit Singh said.

“He promised us improvement but it's nowhere to be seen here,” he added.

So what exactly is the reason for the employees resorting to demonstrations?

The primary reason is shortage of water in the stadium, leaving the staff and athletes high and dry. Also, there is shortage of water in the toilets, especially the ladies toilets.

“We don't have proper water supply in our toilet and we always fear infections,” said a female staff member. “We have time and again informed the authorities but they have failed to do anything,” she added.

The situation is so bad that even athletes who come to practice regularly are seen searching for water, glasses in hand. “There is only one water cooler for us,” said a football player. “But even that is not working half the time.”

“There is acute shortage of water everywhere,” a distraught Manjit said. "Athletes and cricketers often come to our rooms in search for water,” he added.

Another alarming issue is the fact that there is only one exit gate for the employees.

“If we are on the second floor and a fire breaks out, we will have no escape route since the only gate open is very far,” said Manjit.

The staff also complained about the laundry plant lying in a state of disuse for the last two-three years.

This has led to athletes, living in the residential wing, to sleep on unclean bed-sheets and pillows. To add to their woes, their clothes are taken by the laundry staff to a nearby shop, which adds to SAI expenses.

"The laundry staff has been assigned peon duties and the athletes in the residential wings are sleeping on dirty sheets and pillow-covers,” said a senior official.

"If Sinha is giving an impression to the Sports Ministry about how he is curtailing SAI expenses, what about the expenses incurred on such services?” he asked.

These issues might look small but this is eventually leading to the athletes refusing to camp in Delhi. A case in point is the national basketball team, which had to be shifted from Nehru Stadium to the Talkatora due to the "unavailability of proper food arrangements."

Sinha was unavailable for comment.