Even as the Haryana government runs a self-congratulatory campaign, patting itself for giving the country four of the six medallists at the London Olympics, in the heart of the state lies a sporting venue that reeks of official apathy. The stadium in Village Agroha (in Hisar), which is home to Krishna Poonia, the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist in discus throw, lacks basic facilities like drinking water and clean toilets.
The prevailing conditions have acted as a deterrent for beginners. If four years ago, when the stadium came up, over 100 boys and girls practiced here, the number is down to 30. "That too, they aren't regular," Arjun Singh, a wrestler, told HT.
Since the district authorities have made few efforts to improve the state of affairs, Arjun, who imparts lessons to budding grapplers, says the poor facilities have led to a steady decline of girl trainees.
A football field, a six-lane track, basketball court and indoor wrestling hall --- the list of disciplines on offer is impressive. But in the absence of electricity, the wrestling mats are hardly put to use as the oppressive heat makes it impossible to train indoors.
"We can't train on a regular basis," says an 11-year-old, who aspires to become a top-class grappler. In the absence of amenities, the trainees are dependant on nearby residents for drinking water. "We've been asking officials to provide us with drinking water, but all pleas have fallen on deaf ears," said a trainee.
Even more shocking are the electricity poles, which are planted in the middle of the football field. The children are at risk, but the authorities have a casual approach to the matter. "We are in the process of shifting the poles from the stadium," said district sports officer, Prakash Dahiya. Asked about the deadline, he replied, "I can't say how long it will take."
The stadium doesn't offer facilities for hockey, but the sports department has appointed a coach, Vijinder Singh, who functions as a manager. When approached, Vijinder refused to speak on the abysmal conditions.
An aggressive OP Singh, director, sports, said it was not his job to ensure that players got facilities at the grassroots level. "There are around 400 stadiums in the state, do you think I should know what is lacking at every venue," he thundered. "It is the job of the district sports council, whose president is the district commissioner," he added.
Sukhbir Kataria, the state sports minister was not available for his comments.