Guwahati, July 17: Nehru Stadium, the nerve centre of sport in the state, is all set to wear a complete new look in the next five years.
The 52-year-old infrastructure which was ill-maintained and over-utilised for five decades has finally drawn the attention of the government. It has proposed a complete restructuring at a cost of nearly Rs 150 crore.
Disclosing this, sports and youth welfare commissioner Ajay Tiwari said he has directed the directorate of sports to prepare a masterplan for the renovation and restructuring of the multipurpose stadium which hosted international cricket and national football tournaments, apart from other sports disciplines.
“The stadium has so far been totally engaged in sporting activities and there was hardly any time for maintenance. Now that another stadium has come up for cricket, some activities will be shifted there and we will get time to maintain Nehru Stadium,” he said.
Though Tiwari said the estimated cost of the project would be a little over Rs 100 crore, Board of Sports of Assam (BSA) secretary Anjan Sarma, who looks after the RG Baruah Sports Complex that houses Nehru Stadium, put the estimate at Rs 150 crore.
Sarma, however, was hopeful that funds would not be a constraint if the non-lapsable central pool of resources, DoNER ministry, corporate contributions and resources under the state plan could be tapped. Tiwari said the first instalment of Rs 25 crore would be earmarked in the state budget to be tabled next month.
The stadium was awarded Rs 11.5 crore in the Eleventh Finance Commission recommendations in 2004-05 which was later diverted to meet expenses for infrastructure development for the 33rd National Games.
Elaborating on Tiwari’s proposal, Sarma said the directorate has already involved the public works department in preparing a masterplan and was also mulling the idea of involving a consultant by floating a national tender to design the plan.
“It will be complete restructuring. Therefore, it will be wise to involve a reputed consultant to design the masterplan and restructure the stadium completely,” Sarma said.
He said the restructuring would include installation of proper drainage, reducing the size of the playing arena in order to facilitate proper view of the ground from the galleries, floodlights, creation of parking facility and the like.
The drainage system of the infrastructure has been completely clogged and waterlogging has become a perennial problem throughout the rainy season for the past decade. The stadium had witnessed the worst crowd behaviour when a One Day International between India and England was abandoned due to waterlogging in 2006.
According to the BSA proposition, the stadium could be reduced to a single football turf arena and a practice pitch could be created outside the main stadium. The playing arena now has space to accommodate more than two pitches.
Sarma said the plan could include a multi-level parking lot to accommodate about 200 vehicles.