Host Jharkhand unlikely to reach National Games starting line

September 21st, 2008 - 12:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Sep 21 (IANS) The 34th National Games is scheduled for Dec 1-13 in three Jharkhand cities. But at the current rate of progress, it will take another five to six months to put the necessary infrastructure in place. And this, after the games were already postponed for a full year.Nagarjuna and Simplex, the two firms building the main stadiums, have informed the state government that the construction will not be completed before Dec 15.

But the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) does not want to postpone the games further, and has said the Dec 1-13 dates are final.

The games are scheduled in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad.

But “it is impossible to hold the National Games before February next year. The games could be conducted in February only if the work is done at full swing,” said Madhukant Pathak, spokesperson of the Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA).

Jharkhand was awarded the 2007 National Games in 2002. But the state government first found it difficult to get the land. A serious effort to initiate construction work started only in 2005.

The budget swelled from Rs.3.77 billion to Rs.6.40 billion. The budget, prepared in 2005, was itself far higher than the original Rs.1.5 billion estimated in 2002.

“The price of cement, iron and necessary things required in construction rose more than 50 percent in last three years. In view of rising prices the state government has to hike the budgetary provision,” an official of Jharkhand sports and culture department told IANS.

For the games, three stadiums are being built at Hotwar on the outskirts of Ranchi.

According to JOA officials, the construction of the main stadium is almost complete but still synthetic track is to be laid besides fitting of electrical wiring and the platform for the electronic score board. The construction of indoor stadiums for shooting, table tennis and badminton is likely to take two more months.

The IOA is not happy with the pace of the development and its steering committee chairman A.K. Matoo expressed unhappiness during a recent visit here and raised doubts on whether the games could be held on time.

Political instability is one of the main reasons of the delay as the state has seen four governments since 2005.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren visited the venues earlier this month and admitted the delay but assured that the event will be held on time.

“When I can create a separate Jharkhand state then I can also ensure the National Games on the scheduled date,” Soren said.

Officials said the state government is planning to seek one more extension now, till March next year.

The IOA has not yet slapped the Rs.10 million fine on the state for delaying the National Games, as it is entitled to do.

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