Odisha announces sports infra project worth ₹693.35 crore
Continuing with the policy of sports promotion, the Odisha Cabinet on Monday approved the State Sports Infrastructure Development Project worth ₹693.35 crore, under which 89 multi-purpose indoor stadiums will be built in the next 18 months.
Odisha chief secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said the stadiums will be used for multiple sports, including badminton, table tennis, weightlifting, and other activities such as yoga and exercise sessions. They will also be used for local sports that are popular in their respective areas. “The government has put a special focus on sports and the development of related infrastructure,” said Mohapatra, adding that the blueprint of the project has been prepared after due consultation with public representatives and sportspersons.
The stadiums will be designed to withstand a wind speed of up to 200kmph so that in the event of natural calamities like flood, cyclone, the stadiums can be used as cyclone shelters. During pandemic, the stadiums under Notified Area Councils will be turned into 50-bedded hospitals, and the ones under municipal areas will turn into 100-bedded hospitals. The proposed stadiums will also be used for training purposes, meetings and conducting various examinations.
The state government has earlier taken a number of initiatives for the promotion of sports in the state including hockey. In 2018, it signed a ₹100 crore deal with Hockey India to sponsor senior men’s and women’s hockey team for five years. To promote sports among tribals, Odisha in December 2017 organised a tribal sports meet to encourage the young tribal boys and girls to take part in various individual and team games. The meet, considered the first such meet in the country, saw the engagement of 131,003 athletes. The first-of-its-kind competition was organised at the block, district and state level across seven sports disciplines - Football, Archery, Hockey, Kho-Kho, Kabaddi, Athletics and Volleyball.
Slowly coming up as a major sports centre of the country, Odisha in December 2018 successfully hosted the 2018 Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar. It is now building its biggest hockey stadium in Rourkela ahead of the World Cup Hockey in 2023 that would be held in Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium and Rourkela. In 2019, the state hosted FIH Men’s Series Finals and Olympic Hockey Qualifiers. Despite the pandemic last year, Odisha hosted FIH Pro League in 2020. To further strengthen the hockey ecosystem in Sundargarh, the government is planning to lay synthetic hockey turf in each of the 17 blocks of the district.
In July 2017, Odisha became the talking point of international sports bodies, when the state government organised the 22nd Asian Athletics Championship hosting over 560 athletes from 41 countries which earned it praise from world athletics federation president Sebastian Coe. In 2019, it hosted the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship at the Jawaharlal Indoor Stadium in Cuttack. In 2020, it announced the sponsorship the Indian men’s and women’s national rugby team for the next three years and its facilitation of high performance training and conditioning of the players. The state is a strategic partner of the AIFF and has been shortlisted as venue for FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and AFC Asian Women’s Cup in 2022.
Just before the pandemic hit India last year, the first-ever Khelo India University Games was held in Odisha, in which 4,000 athletes from 176 universities participated in 211 events in 17 sports over a period of 10 days.