The construction of National Centre of Excellence (NCOE), to be set up in Cooch Behar, formally commenced on Sunday.
Union minister of state for home and sports Nisith Pramanik carried out bhoomi puja of the project at the site near the New Cooch Behar railway station. His cabinet colleague John Barla, local BJP MLAs and officials of railways and sports ministry attended the event.
Union sports minister Anurag Thakur virtually attended the programme.
“The National Centre of Excellence will be the first-of-its-kind sports infrastructure in north Bengal with state-of-the-art facilities. The centre will be developed in phases. For the first phase, Rs 75 crore has been allotted,” said Pramanik.
He claimed the sports ministry had initially sought land from the state for the sports hub. “But we didn’t get it. Eventually, railway authorities came forward and provided 25 acres for the project. It will be jointly set up by the Sports Authority of India and the railways,” the junior sports minister said.
According to him, the centre will have a synthetic athletics track, an Astroturf for hockey and facilities for other sports archery, table tennis and badminton.
“Experts in sports science and injury management will be posted here. A hostel and gym for sportspersons will be built to facilitate residential training. Initially, we will build a hostel where 100 people can stay, in due course, an extension will be done. The idea is to nurture the sports talents of our region and the country as a whole,” he said.
The sports ministry, sources said, set a deadline to finish the first phase by December next year.
Trinamul leaders scoffed at the Centre over Sunday’s development. “Last year, the foundation stone was laid elaborately, today some ritual was carried out again. We seriously doubt when the infrastructure will come up on the site,” said NB development minister Udayan Guha.