A day after Punjab Cabinet approved a new sports policy, the state government Wednesday announced that it will honour the medal winners of the recently held Asian Games and Commonwealth Games with enhanced cash award at a state-level function in Chandigarh on October 11.
Punjab Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Rana Gurmeet Sodhi said: “The last time, the sports policy was amended was in 2009 and it was much needed for the state. Whether it was the issue of cash awards or selection of medal winners for various jobs in the state, we have addressed these issues in the amended sports policy. I put forward the request to CM to keep the three percent sports quota jobs apart from jobs offered to outstanding medal winners not under the purview of Public Service Commission and Staff Selection Board and he has agreed to the request. We have made a triple jump in cash award for Asian Games gold medal winners from Rs 26 lakh to one crore and we are sure that the medals will also double or triple with more youth opting for sports in the state,”
Sodhi, who is an MLA from Guruharsahai and a former international-level shooter, added that under the new policy “green fields will be opened at the block level and work will be done under MNREGA on one or two acres of Panchayat land”.
“We have categorised sports under ‘high priority’ and ‘priority’ games and the recent success of our rowers proves that the youth in state are willing to pursue new sports too. I plan to allocate budget for a new rowing centre in Hussainiwala or Harike and I am sure that Punjab youth can excel in such kind of sports too,” said Sodhi. Punjab rowers Swarn Singh Virk, Sukhmeet Singh and Bhagwan Singh had bagged medals in the team events at the Asian Games.
The Punjab Sports Department’s list of high priority games includes basketball, boxing, shooting, judo, weightlifting, volleyball, chess, table tennis, athletics, swimming, badminton, cycling, rowing, hockey, gymnastics, football & kabaddi.
While Punjab athletes won a total of five medals in the Asian Games held in Indonesia in August early this year, neighbouring Haryana athletes accounted for a total of 18 medals in the event. In the Commonwealth Games held in Australia, Punjab athletes had won five medals as compared to Haryana’s 22. Recent years have also seen players like Asian Games gold medal winners Arpinder Singh playing for Haryana. Punjab has decided to give the full cash awards to players like Arpinder Singh, shot-putter Tajinder Singh Toor, who works for the Indian Navy.
“One of the reason that players like Arpinder opted to Haryana was less cash award money. We have welcomed players like Arpinder Singh and have offered the post of DSP to Arpinder and Tajinder Singh Toor. Unlike Haryana, we believe that even if a player plays for teams like ONGC or Indian Navy, a Punjab athlete is the honour of the state and can opt for a job in the state at any point,” said Sodhi.
He added: “Apart from honouring the medal winners of Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in a function on October 11, we will also be finishing the back log of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Awards in November. A total of 814 players from the state will be given cash awards in November.”