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Sport sweats as officials stay cool

Calcutta: Khudiram Anushilan Kendra is the veritable hub of sporting activities in the city. But a closer look reveals a different, not-so-rosy a picture and the sufferer is none else than sport itself.

If the wet and damaged floor wasn’t bad enough, it’s been sometime now that the air-conditioning system of the indoor stadium has not been functioning properly. Thus, the venue, which would be much in demand from state associations to organise events during the summer, is now being shunned.

However, no game has borne the brunt of this sorry state more than table tennis. At this time of the year, the Bengal Table Tennis Association (BTTA) usually hosts a summer camp at the Kendra. But with the authorities quite apparently disinterested in setting things in order, no camp will be held this time around.

Given this state of affairs, the BTTA is now all set to decentralise its camp, scheduled to begin from May 25. “We have been requested by our district associations to decentralise the camp. As a result, we have decided to hold camps in Siliguri, Midnapore, Jalpaiguri, Howrah, Hooghly, Chandernagore, Purulia and North 24 Parganas, apart from two in Calcutta,” said a senior BTTA official. Each of these camps will have 20 trainees and expert coaches.

Incidentally, BTTA’s Rabindra Sarobar coaching school and BBYS have been tentatively selected as the two camps in the city.

The institution in the eye of the storm, Khudiram Anushilan Kendra, is maintained by the state Public Works Department (PWD) and funded by the West Bengal State Council of Sports (WBSCS).

Both bodies admitted that the air-conditioning system at the Kendra has a malfunction, but neither specified a timeframe for setting it right when approached by The Telegraph on Tuesday.

However, when contacted, WBSCS joint secretary Swapan Chakraborty said that the PWD has been asked to give an estimate of the expenditure involved in repairing the air-conditioning system, which he had described as “weak”.

“I’ve discussed the situation with the sports minister. And we hope to get an estimate from PWD within a month and move accordingly to improve conditions at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra,” Chakraborty said.

The BTTA officials, however, pointed out that the current state of affairs is a fall-out of “lack of maintenance on PWD’s part”.

When asked about this, a PWD official said, oncondition of anonymity, that derth of funds “sometimes” made them helpless in carrying out repairs.

The stadium’s air-conditioning system had 18 units initially, but now only a few are operational. It was in such inadequate circumstances that the Kalyan Jayant Memorial table tennis championships were held at the Kendra last week.

Parents of the players have also complained of the unhygienic conditions of the stadium.

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