Youth ministry to launch Rs.15 bn scheme for rural youth

March 11th, 2008 - 12:46 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) The ministry of youth affairs and sports is set to launch a Rs.15 billion sport promotion programme for rural youth. “Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) is a nation-wide scheme that aims to improve rural sports infrastructure and organise sports competitions,” Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mani Shankar Aiyar said here Monday.

Under the scheme, each village panchayat (village council) and each block panchayat would be given one-time seed capital grant of Rs.100,000 and Rs.500,000, respectively.

Aiyar, who also holds the charge of the Panchayati Raj ministry, said the scheme would be launched April 1.

It will fall in the centrally sponsored scheme (CSS) category and the onus of implementing it will lie with the state concerned. The state share will be 25 percent for financially well-off states and 10 percent for the rest.

“We had demanded Rs.5,000 crore (Rs.50 billion) from the government for this but for the moment Rs.1,500 crore (Rs.15 billion) have been sanctioned. After two years a review of the scheme will be undertaken,” Aiyar stated.

He said the comprehensive scheme would bear fruit in 10 years.

“NGOs like Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan and other youth groups would be involved to make the program a success and give a qualitative fillip to it,” Aiyar said.

The sports sector has drawn a lot of flak in India in the last few years as it lags behind at the international level, especially in team sports. The most recent example is of hockey where the Indian team Monday failed to qualify for the forthcoming Beijing Olympics.

One of the main reasons for India’s poor performance is lack of proper sports infrastructure, especially in the rural hinterland. The youth ministry figures show that only 50 million out of 770 million youth, adolescents and children have access to organised games and sports.

Less than 30 million of the 210 million students in the country have access to organised sporting activities.

“It is the most comprehensive endeavour ever taken to reach the youth of India,” an optimistic Aiyar said.

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