India are set to have a major embarrassment on their hands early next year, when the Dr Karni Singh Ranges are scheduled to host two major events — the Commonwealth shooting Championships and the season-opening World Cup in February-March.
The World Cup incidentally, has 10 London Olympic Games quota places on offer.
The National Rifle Association of India has been assessing the pace of progress at the Ranges over the last two days and have come to the conclusion that the situation is extremely grim.
“Our assessment shows that the work is not even 35 per cent complete. How can the government claim it is 42 or 45 per cent complete? We have not seen any progress in the last three months,” NRAI secretary-general Baljeet Singh Sethi, told HT. “This range won't be up and ready by even January next year.
“Once we get the range, we have to install the equipment, test it and give our players some training. Add another seven weeks for that.”
The other major worry for the NRAI is the fear of going bankrupt, if the Commonwealth Championships, usually scheduled to be held a year before a Commonwealth Games— New Delhi 2010 is scheduled for October — are postponed again. “We have to make advance hotel bookings for over 1000 shooters and officials who will come for the two events,” said coach Deep Bhatia, who is also in-charge of booking and transport.
“We have confirmed the dates to all the participating countries and are set to make advance payments to four top hotels in Surajkund.
“Our problem is that while we will shell out about Rs 1.5 crore for the bookings, given the pace of construction, there is no guarantee that the two championships will be held. If that happens, it will bankrupt us,” said Sethi.
There's another problem. It can't be moved out of Delhi.
“As per the Commonwealth Games Shooting Federation (CGSF) rules, only the range that hosts the Commonwealth Championships will be used for the Commonwealth Games.
“We are looking at a scenario where countries like Australia, England and New Zealand decide to boycott the shooting events at the Commonwealth Games in the event of the Commonwealth Championships being cancelled," said Sethi.
The NRAI has asked for an emergency meeting with the Sports Ministry.