Treat sports as a priority area: IOA urges Government

New Delhi: Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Sunday urged Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to treat sports as a priority area while formulating his budget this year.

"World over, countries are spending huge amount of money to boost and develop sports and its infrastructure, in India it has yet not been given the importance it deserves.”

"The funds allotted for sports in the budget are always very small and do no justice to the mammoth sports fraternity spanning all over the country," IOA acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra wrote in a letter to Parnab Mukherjee.

He also urged the Minister to allocate more funds for sports from this year.

"I will also request you to put sports in a priority category so that in future Sports federations are not starved of the funds for training, competitions and sending teams abroad, said Malhotra.

"In India, a sport has never been considered as a priority area and that is why we are lagging behind. Though 2012 being the Olympic year, Sports Ministry is helping us in the preparation of the squad for the London Games, but I will urge you to allocate much larger fund for Sports this year so that it becomes a trend and pattern for future budgets.”

"While IOA appreciate Government`s financial support for the Olympic Games, I will like it to become broad based keeping in view other multi-discipline International Events like Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and individual disciplines World Championships," he added.

Now that the government has raised the Member Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund to Rs five crore each, the members be allowed to spend at least Rs one crore from this spend on holding International/National/Local and club level sports competitions in their areas and also to help build sports infrastructure in their respective constituencies.

This fund will go a long way in uplifting the sports in the country.

"It is also requested that minimum of ten percent of the budget allocation for the Rural Development ministry be earmarked for promotion of sports at the grass root level through panchayats and local area bodies," said Malhotra.

"The government has spent crores on the building of stadia in the capital for the Commonwealth. I am pained to inform you that they are becoming very expensive junkyards in absence of proper upkeep.”

"I suggest that a separate fund is created for their upkeep and maintenance with a clear proviso that International and National competitions are organised and held there regularly," he added.