Maken writes to High Commission to look after parathletes
New Delhi: Not happy at the officials enjoying the comforts of Paralympics Games Village in London, which allegedly led to the neglect of the parathletes, Sports Minister Ajay Maken on Monday shot off a letter to the Indian High Commissioner to directly get in touch with the athletes and address their grievances.
Controversy broke out yesterday after a wheelchair-borne powerlifter alleged that the officials of Paralympic Council of India were staying inside the Games Village by using the accreditation of the coaches and escorts and that has resulted to less number of escorts to look after the athletes.
"I would like to bring to your notice a letter sent by Naresh Kumar Sharma, one of the rifle shooters participating in the Games that even as most of the qualified coaches and support staff attached with the contingent is not available at the Games Village, officials of the Paralympic Committee of India are staying inside the Village on accreditation cards issued for coaches and support staff," Maken wrote in the letter.
".... The Dearness Allowance sanctioned by the ministry -- 50 dollars for those staying inside the Olympics Village complex and 175 dollars for those staying outside, has not been paid to the coaches and athletes.
"May I request that the High Commission immediately get in touch with the athletes and provide all possible help. I also spoke to Brig Sandeepan Handa yesterday with a similar request. It is suggested that the High Commission may also get in touch with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, if required," Maken wrote to High Commissioner Dr J Bhagwati.
"It will be highly appreciated if the High Commission directly gets in touch with paralympic athletes and get their grievances redressed through LOCOG, if necessary."
Maken, who also enclosed the letter sent by rifle shooter Naresh Kumar, said that Sports Ministry officials have been directed to ask for a report from the office bearers of the PCI.
Yesterday, wheelchair-borne powerflifter Farman Basha had said that he was not provided with an escort and that has affected his performance in the London Paralympic Games.
"I do not have an escort here and even my coach was not allowed to stay with me. I have been in London since August 11 and our federation representatives promised that all arrangements will be made but nothing has been taken care of," said Basha.
"My escort was supposed to take me to the dining area, which is half a kilometre away but he was not available. Only one escort is here for all of us. It is very difficult for us to move around in wheelchairs.
A Paralympic Committee of India official, however, said that there were enough escorts and that the problem arose as there was no provision of one escort per athlete.
"We cannot have an escort for every athlete. We have 10 athletes and only six people have been sanctioned to stay inside the Games Village. We are managing things with some people coming early at the Village and leaving late in the evening," the official had said.
"The few people available will have to manage and escort the 10 athletes. We are doing that and managing things."