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Centre push for sports school

Guwahati, July 7: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had announced his governmentís plan to set up a state-of-the-art sports school in the city almost a year ago, but little progress has been made so far. Thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointing Assam BJP president and Lakhimpur MP Sarbananda Sonowal as the Union sports minister, the ministry has volunteered to fulfil Gogoiís dream, even without being approached.

Sources in the directorate of sports said Union sports ministry officials, who hardly had time to attend to pleas till two months ago, have started calling the director of sports Ratul Chandra Duarah almost everyday to set up the sports school ever since Sonowal became the sports minister.

Confirming the development, Duarah said the state government has already selected Sarusajai sports complex here as the site for the proposed school and a detailed project report of Rs 15 crore for the school and another Rs 15 crore for a hostel was submitted with the North Eastern Council for funds from the ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).

The directorateís sources said the sports ministry has now offered to set up the school from its own funds and was seeking the state governmentís support in allotting a plot of land for the infrastructure.

ďThis is like a dream for us. We have proposed many ambitious projects in the past, which were never taken into consideration. It would have never come true had an MP from Assam not been the Union sports minister,Ē one of the officials told The Telegraph.

Reacting to the sudden proactive attitude of the Centre, sports organisers in the state were unanimous that it is a welcome initiative and cutting across party lines, the Centre as well as the state government should join hands to get the project done at the earliest.

The proposed school would involve residential grooming of young talented sportspersons from across the state in different sports disciplines. Apart from sports training, academics will be given equal priority in school.

The state governmentís site selection was also welcomed by all because the infrastructure in the sports complex is almost adequate for a school of its nature.

Gogoi had also proposed a sports university in the state which, however, is yet to be initiated.