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Low availability of land set to hamper growth of India's rural sports infrastructure

The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan has come a to a screeching halt The entire Land Acquisition bill saga which has engulfed the Indian political scena ...

The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan has come to a screeching halt 

The entire Land Acquisition bill saga which has engulfed the Indian political scenario is set to have an adverse effect on sports infrastructural growth in rural India. States have requested the Central government to reduce the land allotted to construction of stadiums (six acres), due to insufficiency of land.  

According to reports, a meeting held on March 20 involving the Sports Ministers of different states requested to re-evaluate the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhyan.

The scheme was set up by the erstwhile UPA government, in an attempt to construct 6545 sports facilities in 634 districts. The idea was to tap into the rural youth, who generally don’t get the same kind of facilities like the urban areas.

Around Rs 200 crore was allotted to the project, but it was later scaled down to 120 crore to budgetary concerns and now the project has hit, yet another road-block.

Uttar Pradesh seems to be leading the race to reduce land area for sports infrastructure. They suggested to the Sports Ministry that the land allotted in each block should reduced by half, i.e three acres, to free up space for other entities.

Even West Bengal, who have traditionally promoted rural sports development, requested to recast the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhyan.

In a letter to the Central government published by the New Indian Express, West Bengal Secretary, Rajesh Pandey said, “The ceiling for 6-7 acres land may be reduced to 3.5 acres in case of West Bengal as it has a very high pressure on land...It is suggested  that matching grant may be placed by departments of sports, government of India.”

The Sports Ministry also found out that most states had diverted their funds allotted to the project, to other schemes.

Arunachal Pradesh came up with a different solution, asking the Sports Ministry to increase the height of the facilities so, that the paucity wasn’t caused. However, having 90% of their land in hilly areas, the solution might just be conducive to them.

The North Eastern states development Minister, released the entirety of the Rs 72 crore to another department and went ont o ask for Rs 90 crore more from the Finance Ministry. The Rural development Ministry has also not allocated any funds for the scheme.

A Sports Minister’s conference, earlier in the month also brought forward the lack of planning by the state governments.  According to the Ministry, the state governments had provided no blue-prints for the construction of the facilities.

A decision on the reduction of land is yet to be taken.

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