Team India’s camp for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games begins in Delhi on Wednesday but their participation in the quadrennial event is under a cloud. Miffed at the government for not increasing its budget, Hockey India has threatened to pull out of the Commonwealth and Asian Games while casting a shadow over the country hosting Champions Trophy later this year.
The government has allocated Rs10.5 crore to Hockey India to cover expenses. However, the federation has exhausted almost all of it in the first six months itself, with just Rs31 lakh left in their kitty.
Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra wrote to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president N Ramachandran on Tuesday, informing him that it would be unable for them to field a team if the funds are not increased.
In a separate communication to Sudhir Setia, executive director (teams), Sports Authority of India, Batra wrote: “(sic) As per SAI letter dated 20 June, 2014 sent to us by SAI we have been informed that only Rs 31.00 lacs is left for Hockey up to 31 March, 2015 and we have CWG 2014, Asian Games 2014 and Champions Trophy 2014 in India.
Kindly advice what we should do, since it is not possible for us to send teams within Rs31.00 lacs only for CWG. Shall we withdraw the teams from CWG if Govt of India does not have funds and what should we do for Asian Games 2014 and Champions Trophy 2014.”
Sports secretary Ajit Sharan refuted Hockey India’s claims, saying every federation has to ‘maintain the sanctity of budgets.’ “Moreover, the staying expenses during the Commonwealth and Asian Games are taken care of by the host nation whereas the travelling expenses are bourne by the IOA. Where does Hockey India have to spend in this?” Sharan said.
SAI director general Jiji Thomson said it was not possible for the ministry to increase the budget unless the new government increases the overall budget. At present, the sports ministry has Rs165 crore at its disposal for training expenditure of the federations as compared to Rs160 crore from last year. “We had told the federations to wait till the new budget is revealed next week. If there is any increase for the sports ministry, we will pass it on to the federations,” Thomson said.