The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Games hits new hurdle

Guwahati, Dec. 27: The jinx continues.

With barely a month-and-a-half remaining for the twice-postponed 33rd National Games to finally begin, the All Assam Students’ Union has questioned the government’s claims about setting up “world-class infrastructure” for the Games and asked for a white paper on the expenditure incurred so far.

The AASU leadership — adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya, president Shankar Prasad Ray and general secretary Tapan Gogoi — raised doubts about the quality of infrastructure a day after touring the Games venues in and around the capital city.

The survey team said infrastructure for the boxing, cycling and archery competitions seemed inadequate. The state of the Gauhati University ground where the women’s football competition is to be held was also described as being below par.

The AASU’s assessment of the quality of infrastructure could not have come at a more inopportune time for the organisers of the Games, worried as they are about the outlawed Ulfa’s call for a boycott of the February 9-18 sports extravaganza.

“Given the tone and tenor of the AASU leadership, Dispur will be under tremendous pressure. It will be difficult to host the Games successfully without the student organisation’s backing. Students are expected to make up a sizeable section of the volunteers required for the Games,” an official source said.

The AASU has said it will be a shame if Assam makes a mess of hosting the Games, dogged by controversy right from the start.

Bhattacharyya today accused the Tarun Gogoi government and the Assam Olympic Association of failing to make the most of the opportunity to build world-class sports infrastructure.

It is estimated that Rs 350 crore has already been spent, including Rs 1.9 crore on preparing the tea-ms for various competitions.

“We are not experts but any layman can tell what the quality of the much-hyped facilities for the Games actually is. Most of the venues have not been planned well. Being the head of the team, Gogoi should have involved everybody in the task of arranging for world-class infrastructure and maintained transparency. But that is not the case. We would, therefore, like to know how and where the money was spent. The government should publish a white paper on expenditure incurred so far at the earliest,” Bhattacharyya said.

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