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Abhinav Bindra has been swift in seeking a response from Sports Minister Vijay Goel and the Sports Authority of India after para-athlete Kanchanmala Pande was forced to fend for herself while in Berlin for the Para Swimming Championships which began on July 3 and went on till July 9. As per a report in the Mail Today, she was forced to borrow money from fellow swimmers after the money sanctioned for her did not reach her. If that wasn’t enough, the report says the coach accompanying the athletes – Kanwaljeet Singh – went missing during the main events and asked for nearly Rs 7,500 from the swimmers as participation fees.
In his latest flurry of tweets, Olympic gold medallist Bindra said, “Being concerned about Kanchanmala’s story my team has spoken to her &others involved. Have forwarded the report to the Hon, Minister for his consideration. Much work to do on backing our athletes with what they need to grow and excel,” he wrote.
On Wednesday, Goel had said, “I’m informed funds were released to Paralympic Committee by SAI on behalf of @YASMinistry. Trying to ascertain from PCI where problem lies. Sports Ministry & SAI issued funds timely. PCI’s duty was to inform Ministry if it was unable to further issue it on time, will be probed.”
The Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) vice-president Gursharan Singh deflected blame by saying that the organisation can’t withdraw funds due to a court order. He said PCI needed approval from Justice (Retd) Kailash Gambhir, who was appointed by Delhi High Court as Chairman of the Committee. Under a High Court order, PCI needs the approval to withdraw funds with a case pending against the entity. “We feel sad that this kind of incident had happened, it should not happen again. We regret that this incident had happened. We will seek a report from the team manager and find out how this had happened,” Gursharan told PTI. “The sanctioned amount from SAI came five days before the departure of the athletes but we could not withdraw the money as it needs the approval of the Chairman of Committee appointed by the Delhi High Court. He (Justice Retd. Kailash Gambhir) was not available to clear the funds. So, we told the athletes not to take part in Berlin or go on their own and compensate later. The team went on their own and I am hearing about this incident. We have asked for a report about what happened in Berlin from team leader Kamaljit Singh,” said Gursharan from London, where an Indian team is taking part in the World Para Athletics Championships.