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West Bengal sports ministry plans to replace Salt Lake Stadium Tartan track after 29 years

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The outer Tartan track of the Salt Lake stadium has not been replaced in 29 years

There is good news for the athletes in Bengal. The state sports ministry has decided to re-lay the Tartan track at the Salt Lake Stadium after 29 years.The track had been laid at the time of the inauguration of the Yuba Bharati Krirangan in 1984.

State sports minister Madan Mitra, when asked about this, said, “We will first finish our ongoing project. That is the completion of replacing the floodlights at the stadium. Then our immediate task will be to start the re-laying of the Tartan track.” On hearing this news, the ‘Dronacharya’ awardee from Bengal, coach Kuntal Roy, was happy. He commented, “The lack of maintenance has made the track totally inactive in last 29 years. Athletes like Susmita Sinha Roy and Hari Shankar Roy who have been representing the country in their respective events for more than last 10 years, train on this track regularly. But they cannot understand whether they are improving as this track has lost its bounce completely. If the track is finally re-laid then it would help the athletes a lot, especially the sprinters and the hurdlers.”

Minister Madan Mitra, along with the engineers from Mackintosh & Burn, had visited the stadium to check the condition of the track two weeks ago. A top executive from the sports ministry informed that these engineers will reconstruct the track. It is likely to cost nearly 3.5 crores to replace the Tartan track. It has been learnt that a Mumbai-based company that has recently laid a German made Tartan track in Bengaluru and Kerala is likely to get the assignment for buying the turf for the Salt Lake Stadium also.

According to the sports ministry, it will take atleast 45 days to complete the replacement of the artificial turf. Mr. Mitra said, “Actually, the foundation under this artificial track, made of another concrete track, has also sunk in last 29 years. So the engineers first have to construct that concrete track, placed below the artificial track. That is why it takes time. And the total cost will be nearly 5 crores.”

The replacing of the floodlights at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan was supposed to have been completed by the end of February. But according to the sports ministry, the construction work might be over at the end of March. Then the government might start planning the re-laying of the track.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Mr Jyotishman Chatterjee said, “We also have bought 20 sprinklers to improve the watering system at the Stadium. The sprinklers will be set when the Stadium will be closed for the re-laying of the tartan track.”

However, it remains to be seen if the ministry manages to live up to its promises. Questions have been raised by the athletic fraternity in Bengal on this matter. Many leading athletes from Bengal, who generally train at the national preparatory camp in Patiala most the year, said, “It is difficult for the state sports ministry to execute the plans. We are often told that the government is running short of money. So, will they really spend nearly 5 crores for the sports?”

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