It's a case of being 'penny wise, pound foolish'. For the sake of euros 150-200, the R50-crore Karni Singh shotgun ranges, constructed for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, have not been in use for two of the three events.
With new rules in double trap and skeet coming into effect from January, the shotgun ranges in the national capital are of no use, at least for two of the three events (the third being trap, where there are no changes).
An electronic chip costing between euros 150-200 is all that is needed to make the ranges operational, but rather than making the meagre investment, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) is looking at private ranges.
The national camps, including the trials, for the shotgun events are being hosted at the New Moti Bagh Gun Club in Patiala, which belong to the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president, Raninder Singh, and his family.
The trials (senior section) for the World Cup are also being conducted there. Hosting national camps in Patiala is not feasible as most of the shooters are based in Delhi hence accessibility is a problem.
"Because of the change in rules (in double trap and skeet), the Delhi shotgun ranges cannot be used as of now, we are holding the trials and camp in Patiala," Baljit Singh Sethi, advisor to the NRAI, told HT.
"The Delhi ranges can be used but for that the electronic circuits in the machines have to be upgraded with an electronic chip. And the chip is not going to cost more then R10,000."
Last year, before the London Olympics, to streamline the procedure of procuring sports equipment, including training gadgets, the ministry came up with new guidelines, arming national federations with financial powers of up to Rs. 10 lakh.
In this light, it needs to be asked as to why the NRAI did not procure the chips, as it was aware of the new rules since August last.
Passing the buck
"It's the responsibility of SAI, as the ranges are controlled by it. Or it should have authorised us to import the chips on its behalf. Anyhow, we are having the Long Term Development meeting, where we will discuss this issue," said Sethi.
Surprisingly, the NRAI is holding the camp for junior shotgun shooters at the Delhi ranges. "It would have got crowded had we held both the junior and senior camps in Patiala. Left with no choice, we are holding the junior camp according to the old rules," he said.
Contacted for a reaction, Radhika Sriman, in-charge, teams division, SAI, said, "The decision to host the camp in Patiala was taken a long time back. Moreover, it's an alternative arrangement."
Interestingly, many double trap and skeet shooters have procured electronic chips for their personal use, but the NRAI and SAI are still searching for a way out.