The officials in-charge of the South Asian Federation (SAF) Winter Games, slated in March next year at Auli, are making a mockery of themselves, or so it seems.
The masonry work is already behind schedule and now the news comes that imported material, meant for making an artificial pond, is lying unattended at the Mumbai port for the last several days.
Sources in the state tourism ministry told HT that ‘geo-textile’ and ‘membrane’ meant for building the pond in Auli had been lying unattended for days. Both the products, imported from Italy, have to be transported to Uttarakhand. Experts say the geo-textile is first spread on the base of the pond and then covered with the membrane.
Sources said that the state tourism ministry had to give a certification that the products would be used for sporting activity. “Unfortunately, the ministry has still not done that, resulting in material still lying at the docks. Imported materials are exempted from customs duty if they are meant for non-commercial purpose,” the official said.
An angry Winter Games Federation of India president, S.S. Pangti, flayed the state government saying, “Severe cold has already forced us to stop masonry work at Auli and now the imported products are lying at the docks. It’s adding to our woes.”
The state government had constituted a committee, headed by Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri to look after the preparations of the Games. State tourism secretary, Rakesh Sharma, the committee’s member secretary could not be contacted.
Tourism minister Prakash Pant when contacted said he had no idea about the material lying unattended at Mumbai. “Rakesh Sharma had informed me that the stuff had reached India,” said Pant. He added that it was the responsibility of the organising committee to keep track of things.
Products like the snowmaking compressor and snow panels are still to be ordered from Italy, while the ski lift, towers, cables, etc are imported from France. The cooling system has to come from Canada.