The sports ministry is leaving no stone unturned to prepare for next year's London Olympics, but the coaching and support staff, responsible for training the elite athletes, have not been paid since the start of the coaching camps in April.
While three coaches, two masseurs and physiotherapists attached with the women wrestlers in Patiala are awaiting their salaries, the support staff with the men's camp in Sonepat got their six months salary two weeks back.
In shooting, except for chief national coach Sunny Thomas, no other coach (numbering 15) or support staff has been paid since March. The case is no different in weightlifting and athletics.
"The delay is because of procedural problems. The coaches and support staff have to sign a contract and it is only then that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) can get the sanction. All this takes time," said a SAI official stationed in Delhi.
The coaches, however, have a different story to tell and blame it on the headquarters in Delhi. "We signed the contracts months back, we don't know the reason for delay," said a coach.
"How are we supposed to take care of our families without getting paid for the last five months? A delay of a month or so is okay, but there are no excuses for delaying things for so long," said a coaching staff attached with the women's wrestling camp. The male weightlifters in Patiala had pooled in their resources to pay the two masseurs in June and even after the authorities included them on the payroll (contract basis) from July, they are yet to get their dues.
"It hurts when despite being available 24x7 they are not getting their salaries," said a top lifter. The current scenario is hard to understand as the ministry has short-listed 16+1 (para sports) disciplines under Operation Excellence (OPEX), aimed at preparing the teams for the Olympics. Under OPEX, there are special provisions for support staff and coaches including monthly salaries.
"I will look into the matter and salaries will be released soon," Desh Deepak Verma, DG, SAI, had said during his visit to the NIS Patiala last month. Three weeks have lapsed but action is yet to be taken.