By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 8 Jun: Despite claiming to have a dynamic sports policy in Uttarakhand and that it is very serious towards promoting sports, especially adventure and winter sports, the reality is that the state government has been unable to maintain even the existing infrastructure in this regard. It is now learnt that the government has given up on maintaining the winter sports rink and is, instead, mulling converting the rink into a normal indoor training arena.
It may be recalled that even as the International Cricket Stadium in Raipur also remains largely neglected, the state’s only international level ice skating rink, also in Raipur, lies in a dilapidated condition for the past 11 years. In fact, apart from a handful of events held at the time when the ice skating rink was constructed, it has not remained functional at all and, therefore, the much touted sports policy to promote sports, particularly winter sports, remains active only on paper.
It is a fact that, being a Himalayan state, Uttarakhand has a lot of potential and natural talent for winter sports. However, nothing has been done to actually groom either the local talent for winter sports or to hold any events there. As a result, the hopes of local young boys and girls dreaming of becoming professional winter sportspersons have been dashed permanently now after this decision.
Sports Minister Rekha Arya has, in fact, admitted before media persons that this ice skating rink would be converted into a normal stadium and it would now be used for other sports. According to sources, sports department officials are preparing a plan for this.
It may be recalled that after Uttarakhand had been given permission to host the South Eastern Asian Ice Skating Championship, this international level ice skating rink was constructed near Maharana Pratap Sports College in Raipur in 2010 at a cost of Rs 80 crores. Very expensive imported machinery was purchased by the Sports and Youth Welfare Department for the same to generate ice and other conditions necessary to host such events. After this, in 2011, the South Eastern Asian Ice Skating Competition was organised by the Ice Skating Association of India, here, which was then followed by an Ice Hockey Competition. But after that the tourism and sports department did not even pay the electricity and water bills thereby leading to total neglect of the ice skating rink and the machinery for past 11 years.
It may also be recalled that when the Ice Skating rink was constructed, it was claimed it was the only ice skating rink of its quality in Asia outside of China. However, it is ironic that even after managing to set up such a high tech ice rink, the sports and the tourism department did not bother to maintain it or hold any events that could have led to its maintenance. Sources claimed that despite total neglect, even now a heavy amount of money is being spent for the bare level maintenance of the ice rink. While, a final decision is yet to be taken officially in this respect, unofficially the decision has already been taken to convert the ice rink into normal stadium.