Sporting spirit: Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium in Hotwar
Twice shamed, thrice shy.
After breaking a three-year National Games jinx in 2011 and winning the “dark trophy” in the recently concluded National Open Athletics Championship, Jharkhand’s iconic mega sports complex in Ranchi is working overtime to sew up loose ends for a flawless show during the Junior South Asian Games next month.
In July, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had offered the state outfit the global opportunity. The Jharkhand Athletics Association submitted its Junior SAF Games proposal to the government, which readily agreed having missed an earlier chance to host the big-ticket Asian Athletics Championship.
Sports minister Geetashree Oraon too took keen interest to seal the deal and the government nod, finally, came in September. A corpus of Rs 2 crore has been sanctioned for the Games, scheduled from November 10 to 12.
Though the initial dates were in October-end, but time crunch for upgrade of the Hotwar stadium has deferred the event.
During the recent closing ceremony of the 53rd athletics meet, power tripped at the sprawling Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium — one of the nine sports facilities at the Hotwar complex — and was restored only the next day.
The very mention of this historic black day still makes many sports officials fume, while others claim that the Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) has been directed to replace batteries of all the 16 diesel generator sets.
“A meeting has been held with JSEB officials in regard to power supply at the mega sports complex. Primarily, lack of maintenance has rendered all batteries dead. Estimates have been given for replacing them, besides rectifying wiring. The JSEB has been given a deadline of this month-end,” said an official.
Sports director Ashok Kumar too promised that the Junior SAF Games would be free of power glitches. “The JSEB has been given specific instructions,” he said.
On Wednesday, the department floated tenders for the opening and closing ceremonies, while the same for hospitality, catering and other services are expected in the next couple of days. Kumar said they were hoping to select one agency for both opening and closing ceremonies by October 17. For the others, the time target is end of October.
Jharkhand, which will host the South Asian Games for the first time, will see 700 athletes and officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal, besides India, come calling.
So, how ready is the multi-crore stadium for an event of such magnitude?
If sports director Kumar is to be believed, peeling plaster, crumbling ceilings, choked drains, defunct toilet fittings, broken glass windows and termite-eaten equipment will be fixed within the stipulated time.
“The minister (Oraon) has already inspected the facility and estimates (for repair jobs) have been made. The building construction department has been given a list of things to do. Most of the problems are minor in nature, which won’t take much time,” he asserted.
Jharkhand Athletics Association president Madhukant Pathak said the main focus was on Khel Gaon (the adjoining accommodation for players), entrance and exit points of the stadium, broken windowpanes and toilets. “These won’t take much time. The stadium will be ready before the event,” he echoed Kumar, but pointed out that his chief worry was uninterrupted supply of water and electricity.
“We are told that all diesel generator sets will be replaced. What the department should also do is hire some technicians on contract basis so that a sudden malfunction can be fixed without inordinate delay,” Pathak added.
Will the state be able to host a glitch-free Junior SAF Games? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org