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Hotwar mulls fee cut for athletes

If the sports department has its way, athletes may have a cheaper access to the facilities at Hotwar.

Having failed to draw desired number of amateurs and professionals to the mega sports complex, the mandarins have decided to slash membership fees by 20-25 per cent.

In December last year, the sports department had opened five of the nine stadiums for practice. A one-time fee of Rs 5,000 was fixed for sportspersons above the poverty line, while those below the poverty line were asked to pay Rs 1,000. Apart from this, the department also levied a monthly maintenance charge of Rs 200 for general category athletes and Rs 100 from BPL one or those less than 16 years old.

However, many officials are now of the view that while concessions have been offered to BPL candidates, fees fixed for APL players were still a burden, which may be the reason behind poor response.

Sports director Ashok Kumar agreed and promised to request the state administration to review the rates.

“While enthusiasts of some disciplines like badminton and swimming are able to fork out Rs 5,000, those pursuing athletics feel the fee is too high. Most athletes do not hail from affluent families though they may be on the APL list. I will write a letter to the sports secretary in a day or two, requesting a review,” Kumar said, adding that it might encourage more sportspersons to use the facilities.

Of the nine stadiums in Hotwar, Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium, Ganpat Rai Indoor Stadium, Harivansh Tanabhagat Indoor Stadium, Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo Indoor Stadium and the Velodrome are, currently, open for practice.

On February 4, The Telegraph had highlighted the sports department’s lackadaisical attitude in implementing the membership scheme. While 65 application forms have been sold so far, more than 90 per cent are for badminton.

“I don’t know why only badminton is being preferred and not other disciplines like athletics and cycling. Whatever may be the case, we now aim to begin the scheme by March 1,” said Maruti Thakur, an official of Sports Authority of Jharkhand.

Is the fee any deterrent?

“It may be one of the reasons. Any decision to increase or decrease the charges has to come from above. If the fee is slashed, it will certainly generate more interest,” he added.