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Sports body, Dispur caught in ‘turf’ war

Guwahati, Jan. 11: The Assam Sports Association today criticised Dispur for damaging the city’s playgrounds by holding non-sport events and asked organisers not to tinker with the playing turf.

The association’s reaction came in the wake of the damage caused to the Sarusajai stadium turf during the Asean-India car rally’s flag-down ceremony last month.

“We are not against promotion of trade and culture, but when our playgrounds are being damaged and our sportsmen kept away from their training sessions on the pretext of preparations for an event like the Asean rally, we cannot stay silent. The Sarusajai turf could have been spared and the ceremony held outside the ground. Instead, a number of nails were found on the turf and the grass found smothered at places following the conclave,” Kailash Sarma, general secretary of the association, told reporters here.

He said while the state government deserves credit for creating a state-of-the-art infrastructure at the Sarusajai sports complex ahead of the 33rd National Games here, it has failed to maintain the stadium. “Let alone maintenance, the government has been indifferent to the problems faced by our sportspersons,” Sarma added.

He urged Dispur to set up a monitoring committee to oversee development and maintenance of the city’s playgrounds. “In case our appeal goes unheard, we will form a joint action committee in the near future and take it from there,” he added.

Not just Sarusajai, functions and fairs have time and again been held in venues such as Latasil playground, AEI playground in Chandmari, College of Veterinary Sciences ground at Khanapara, among others.

Former international footballer Gilbertson Sangma said, “Priority has to be given to sport than to other events at the ground. The India-Malaysia soccer tie at the venue in 2011 helped create a healthy ambience for sports in the state,” Sangma said.

The association feared the International Tourism Mart, scheduled to be held at Sarusajai Stadium on January 18-20, might have adverse effect on the India-Palestine football match at the venue on February 6.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who is also the chairman of the Sports Authority of Assam, today said the Sarusajai ground will not be affected and that the mart will be held outside the turf.

“The chief minister today conveyed to us that the tourism mart will be held outside the turf and that the ground will not be affected by it,” Rana Goswami, the vice-president of Sports Authority of Assam, told The Telegraph today.


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