Khunti district has produced four Olympians and 26 international women hockey players but has only one Astroturf ground —SS High School. However, a combination of official apathy and neglect has left this stadium close to ruin.
The turf, which was installed at cost of `3 crore, is close to deterioration, with water-logging turning the ground into what resembles a pond. Rusted goal posts and damaged nets complete the picture of utter neglect.
“It pains me to see such a valuable facility being destroyed, despite umpteen messages and reminders to the authorities,” Olympian Manohar Topno, who supervises a residential training centre of the sports department, said.
Khunti deputy commissioner Chandra Shekhar admitted that the ground was in bad shape.
“Hockey has put the spotlight on Khunti and we will take steps to restore the turf and other facilities at the centre,” he said.
“We will take up the issue with the district administration,” said Ranendra Kumar, sports director.
SS High School principal Anima Tirkey said that reports of the ground being in poor condition have been blown up.
“The turf is not in that bad a shape as is being made out and players have been using it. We just lack funds to maintain the facility,” Tirkey said. She said that the approximately `2 lakh per annum that the school accrues from the 13 shops set up along the school boundaries is spent of electricity bills for watering the turf.
Students, however, refuted Tirkey’s version, saying that the turf is never watered and they are forced to play on dry turf even in summer.