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This pitch is crumbling, and fast

india Updated: Jul 19, 2012 01:09 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh


As far as white elephants go, it can't get any starker. Along with the red carpet rolled out for the Commonwealth Games, the organisers also spread out the surface for perhaps a game most alien to India - lawn bowls.

A game mostly restricted to the British Isles, South Africa, Malaysia and Australia, it still had to be included in the competition for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The organisers shelled out Rs. 6 crore to lay synthetic surface for the genteel game, rather than play on natural turf as it used to be.

However, since the competitors packed up and left, the lawn bowls arena within the Jawarharlal Nehru stadium has remained deserted.

Although India raised a team for the game, what little scope there was for lawn bowls to pick up were dashed with even the Bowling Federation of India (BFI) showing little interest.

In fact, for the past 15 months, the three competition greens and one warm-up area has not been cleaned or rolled, getting the full treatment from Delhi's polluted environment.

Some six months after the CWG, the government's High Level Committee under VK Shunglu, set up to look into CWG corruption cases, mentioned in its report in March last year that it would have been better if such large greens had not been laid. The panel also blamed the expensive contract awarded. In fact, during the CWG, bowling greens were also built at the Delhi Public School, RK Puram as well as the Yamuna Sports Complex.

If BFI president Sunaina Kumari is to be believed, the federation's efforts to use the facilities came to naught because officials were denied access. "We were told an inquiry is on, so the venue can't be opened," she said. Not just that, soon after the Games, the makeshift change rooms were dismantled and taken away, further killing enthusiasm.

Over the last 18 months, Sports Authority of India hasn't been able to decide how to use the arena. Sometime back there was a move to turn it into a soccer field. SAI's chief stadia administrator, PC Kashyap, wasn't available for comment.

This is the concluding part of the series