Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Saturday said the Delhi government failed to act against the IAS couple over their alleged misuse of sports stadium in the national capital, but the Ministry of Home Affairs transferred them to give a strong message that such facilities are meant for sportspersons. Inaugurating the Khashaba Jadhav Sports Complex spread over 27 acres in the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) campus, he also said that traditional games of India, like mallakhamb, will be taken to the international level in future.
“There should be more competitions for sportspersons and they shouldn’t only practice. This will help the sportspersons in testing their mental toughness. Grounds and facilities are made, but there are also restrictions imposed on some people. Recently in Delhi, an IAS officer with his wife was using the stadium, while the sportspersons were kept outside. It is a very unfortunate incident,” he said. The Delhi government did not take any action against them. But Union home minister (Amit Shah) and the department took action against them and they were transferred to give a strong message that stadiums are meant for sportspersons, he said.
“There should be rules and they should be followed. Let everyone play, but professional athletes should be given preference. There should be no political interference,” Thakur, who is also the Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs Minister, said. The Centre on Thursday shunted IAS couple Sanjeev Khirwar and Anu Dugga to Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, respectively, following media reports about the misuse of facilities at Thyagraj Stadium by them. Khirwar was then posted as Principal Secretary (Revenue) in Delhi. He also stressed the need to have “healthy sports competitions” between universities and states, among others. Talking about the traditional games, the minister said that at the Khelo India event in Bengaluru, people were interested in watching mallakhamb. “In future, these kind of traditional games will be taken to the International level. We are trying to have traditional games at all the sports facilities,” he said. Thakur said the Modi government has increased by three times the sports budget in the last eight years.
“In the last one year alone, there is a rise in the budgetary allocations for Khelo India by almost 50 per cent. Last year, it was Rs 657 crore, which has been increased to Rs 874 crore. If we talk about the overall budget for sports by the Indian government has increased by three times. In 2013-14, it was Rs 1,219 crore, now it has increased to Rs 3,262 crore. I hope the state also increases the budget and appoint more coaches,” he added. He also said that 1,000 centres of Khelo India will be established in the country. In these centres, former sportspersons will be given Rs 5 lakh per annum for coaching. This will help in creating more sportspersons. So far, 450 centres have been given permission and soon we will reach the 1,000-mark, he said.
Describing cinema and sports as the soft powers of India, he said sportspersons from across the globe see Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacting with sportspersons, most recently with the Thomas Cup-winning badminton players, and encouraging them. “After the meeting (with PM), the coach of Thomas Cup team said when he had won a title in the game, the then prime minister did not meet him, but Modi not only invited them home, but also spent good amount of time with them,” Thakur said.