New Delhi: Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore on Friday announced that the pension given to meritorious sportspersons has been doubled, with Olympic medallists set to get Rs 20,000 per month.
Under the scheme called 'Sports Fund for Pension to Meritorious Sportspersons', the medal winners at the Olympic Games were earlier getting Rs 10,000 per month while gold medallists at the World Cup/World Championships in Olympic and Asian Games disciplines were receiving Rs 8,000 per month.
Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medallists were getting Rs 7,000 per month.
Rathore said the pension amount has been doubled across the board and the Paralympic medal winners have been brought at par with able-bodied sportspersons.
"We have doubled pension of meritorious sportspersons. The Olympic gold medallists will get Rs 20,000 per month from earlier Rs 10,000 per month, the World Cup or World Championships gold medallists will get Rs 16,000 from earlier Rs 8,000," Rathore told reporters at a press conference here.
Rathore also said that 220 athletes have been declared eligible for 'out of pocket allowance' from September 2017 onwards under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). This allowance of Rs 50,000 per month per athlete is meant for miscellaneous pocket expenditure.
"This assistance is in addition to the amount sanctioned for training and competition exposure of athletes under TOPS. The NSDF has released a total amount of Rs 4.62 crore till date on account of 'out of pocket allowance' to 206 athletes.
"The payment is held up in the case of 14 athletes due to non-availability of Aadhar/NADA clearance etc," he said.
"We have now made the TOPS operating authority a separate one and 92 percent cases have been cleared and there is no pending case relating to sanction of funds."
He said the National Sports University in Manipur has started offering courses and a bill, granting statutory status to the institute, has been introduced in the Parliament.
"We have tied up with two Australian universities for the running of the courses in the Sports University. It will be a total partnership and the faculty from these Australian universities will be there in Manipur for the complete course. Even the design and architecture of the Sports University will be done by Australian experts," he said.
Rathore said this year's sports budget has increased the allocation for northeastern states from Rs 104 crore in 2012- 13 and 109 crore in 2013-14 to 148 crore in 2017-18 and 173 crore in 2018-19.
"The government is committed to putting special emphasis on northeastern states. They have given us many champions. Moreover, one of the verticals of Khelo India aims to promote sports for peace and development, especially in regions ravaged by militancy. The budget is reflective of this fact."
He also said that the government has announced a special package of Rs 200 crore for the development of sports and related infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir.
"The sports ministry has undertaken a number of projects in the state, including upgrading two stadia, sports equipment and infrastructure upgrade and development of coaches and trainers etc."
He also announced that a grievance redressal system meant for the athletes will also be put into place.
"We have around 10,000 athletes training under SAI. We are working on a grievance redressal and complaints system whereby any trainee can call up a number and register any complaint they may have against the centre in question (e.G. oily food, poor equipment etc.).
"We will have call centres outside of sports ministry and SAI and the athlete will not know who is calling him. There will be at least 200 calls going each day to the athletes so that we can have direct contact with each at least once in three or four months.
"Trainees know best the day-to-day management of such facilities and this feedback system is important. We are also working to put in place a system of surprise checks and inspections across all the SAI centres."
He also said that a mobile application is being developed by SAI to enable athletes training inside the country or abroad or taking part in competitions send their feedbacks on the facilities provided or complaints against the officials accompanying them.
"SAI is developing a mobile app through which athletes can send feedbacks or complaints of how they have been taken care of by coaches or managers etc.
"This will be a kind of a reverse feedback and will be anonymous. By using this, athletes can directly communicate with the ministry and SAI. This will ensure that the coaches and managers do their job professionally and efficiently."
Asked about re-structuring of SAI which he had proposed, Rathore said, "Only changing its name will not serve anything. We also want to change its work profile. We are working on a structural change and it is in an advanced stage.
"The status of coaches will be enhanced under these restructuring of SAI. Coaches can be taken in at any position. For example, if Olympians want to coach, he can join at an appropriate designated level.
"There will be parallel induction at appropriate level for former sportspersons if they want to be drawn into SAI. There will also be promotion among SAI officers and one position of joint secretary will be increased from among SAI officers."