The waterlogged office of Jharkhand Wrestling Association in Ranchi on Wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The state wrestling association is understood to have finally indicated its willingness to move its players out of Jaipal Singh Stadium where a national-level sportsman died due to electrocution, having broached the issue of an alternative venue with the sports department.
Secretary of Jharkhand State Wrestling Association Bholanath Singh, who had so far refused to vacate the rooms at the dilapidated stadium, requested sports director Ranendra Kumar to allot space to house wrestlers at Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Morabadi on the sidelines of yesterday's flag-hoisting ceremony.
"Yes, I have demanded a place at the hockey stadium for my players. We are drafting a formal letter, which we will hand over to the department in a couple of days. We too are concerned about the safety of our players," Singh told this correspondent over telephone.
The Telegraph had highlighted on Monday how despite serious safety concerns over a dozen wrestlers from distant villages were slumming it out amid unhygienic conditions in rooms on the first floor of the stadium to save on transportation costs. Their plight was revealed to the outside world after Vishal Kumar's tragic demise on August 8, even though he wasn't living there but had gone to the wrestling association office for work.
That afternoon, when Vishal (22), a resident of Upper Bazaar near the stadium, was in the office a live wire hanging loose in the flooded washroom dealt a fatal jolt. A fellow wrestler found him in semiconscious state and tried to rush him to Ranchi Sadar Hospital. Vishal died on the way.
Singh, who is also chief of Hockey Jharkhand, revealed that the association had decided to adopt Vishal's family. "Earlier, we had announced Rs 1 lakh as compensations and a monthly allowance of Rs 10,000 to the family. But now we have decided to adopt the family and be its foster guardians," Singh said.
The association, he added, had also decided to name all senior-level wrestling tournaments after Vishal as a tribute to the promising wrestler.
"Bokaro will host a senior state meet on October 6-8. We have decided to name the tournament after Vishal. Henceforth, all senior-level tournaments in the state will be named in his memory," Singh said.
Sports director Kumar confirmed that Singh had spoken to him about alternative accommodation. However, sources in the department clarified that any arrangement to put up the wrestlers would be strictly temporary as the state did not have a residential centre for wrestlers.
"As per the rules, we can't provide accommodate players who come for practice every day. Else, all sports outfits will start demanding space for their players," said an official.
Director Kumar, however, stressed that the state government was planning to set up more residential centres for various disciplines across districts.
"Our focus is on districts where there are no residential centres. Places like Ranchi, Simdega and Khunti, for instance, have residential facilities for hockey and archery, and these are overcrowded. We are of the view that rather than concentrating on only a handful of districts, we should focus on places where there are no facilities," he said.