Will the newly built indoor ice skating rink at Dehradun, the first of its kind in the country, turn out to be a white elephant? That was the worry on the final day of the first South Asian Winter Games here on Wednesday.
The event was held under the aegis of the Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI) in tandem with the Uttarakhand government.
With a huge grant of Rs 110 crore from the Centre, the indoor hall has come up within the premises of the Sports College in Dehradun, but the state government is yet to formulate a policy to make the ice rink functional in the near future.
To make artificial ice, says a top official of the Sports College, electricity bill alone comes to around Rs 30,000 to 40,000 per day. "There are other expenditures including manpower to maintain the infrastructure," he said.
In fact, the Uttarakhand government has already felt the burden of running the ice rink. In the buildup to the South Asian meet, players in the national camp couldn't practice on the rink as it was closed down. It was only thrown open to players on the opening day of the international meet on December 10. Players did physical training to maintain fitness.
We did off-the-rink training in the camp as the indoor hall was closed," said a leading figure skater.
Earlier, top players got to use the rink during the Doon Open competition that formed the basis for selection of the national team.
An official with the state directorate of sports said the task of constituting a committee that will formulate guidelines for maintaining the rink will be done after the event is over. But he didn't specify how long it would take to set up the panel. "The proposal is in the pipeline," said SS Waldia, the state's deputy secretary sports.
WGFI treasurer JS Dhillon said the infrastructure would help in the growth of winter sports activity. "The federation can run the rink on a no-profit-no-loss basis," said Dhillon, who is also director, Indian Institute of Skiing and mountaineering.
But the players aren't taking WGFI seriously.
"Firstly, the WGFI needs to unite, then only can it think of promoting the sport," said an ice skater.