The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has threatened to withdraw its team from the season-opening ISSF shotgun World Cup in Tucson (USA) later this month if its dues, running into crores, are not cleared by the sports ministry.
NRAI advisor and former secretary-general, Baljeet Singh Sethi, said the dues towards foreign trips for the past one year were in excess of Rs 2 crore, while the Sports Authority of India (SAI) owed another Rs 1.5 crore towards ammunition imported by the NRAI on the government body's behalf.
“We have written to SAI that if these dues are not cleared, we might not be able to send the shotgun team for the World Cup. The ministry pays 75% of the expenses at the time the team is cleared and the remaining 25% is reimbursed to us once we submit the bills on return from international competitions and exposure trips. That 25% has not been reimbursed and, over a period of time, the amount has crossed Rs 2 crore,” said Sethi.
With less than a week for the shotgun team's departure for the US, the uncertainty is taking a toll on the shooter.
“This kind of ambiguity is not good especially since this is the Olympic year. Though no one in skeet has earned an Olympic quota, we do feel for our compatriots in trap and double-trap,” said a top skeet shooter.
Uncertainty also looms large over the camp ahead of the team's departure on March 19 for the World Cup, which will kick off on March 23.
“We had sent a letter to SAI asking them to sanction the camp at the Karni Singh Ranges from March 6 onwards, but we are yet to hear from them,” said Sethi.
Plan not finalised
Another NRAI official said that clearance had been delayed because of the new Long-Term Development Plan (LTDP) not being finalised.
“The new LTDP plan is under process. Hopefully, it should come in the next couple of days after which the camp might be sanctioned,” he said.
A senior SAI official said the NRAI had been given Rs 4.5 crore by them for ammo import.
“Let them clear that bill and then we will look into the matter.”
But Sethi countered by saying, the NRAI had spent Rs 6 crore on import of ammo for SAI and “need to pay us the remaining Rs 1.5 crore.”