WITH AN expenditure of over Rs 700 crore, the Uttar Pradesh government is all set to equip Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s native Saifai village in Etawah with an array of facilities ideal for international sports by the end of 2016.
In the three years of Akhilesh’s rule, Saifai has already witnessed state-of-the-art facilities being provided for hockey, swimming and other athletic events at its sports complex, with several more lined up before the state goes to polls in 2017.
The government’s interest in sports is clear from the hike in annual budget for its sports department — from Rs 128 crore to Rs 283 crore — with proposal for another Rs 100 crore having already been submitted for allocation in the supplementary budget, as per government sources.
Among the upcoming ventures, a cricket stadium is at the centre of attraction with the government hoping to draw international attention for the matches by making facilities such as flood lights available for day-night games. The government is spending Rs 260 crore to set up the new stadium, while it will demolish the old one which was set up at the cost of Rs 22.52 crore between 2006 and 2007 when Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav was the chief minister. A portion of the old cricket stadium had collapsed, leading to a high-level inquiry which had said that the samples were of “sub standard”, prompting action against nearly two dozen engineers of Rajkiya Nirman Nigam responsible for the construction work.
In a bid to draw more attention of the sports fraternity, the Akhilesh government has also decided to establish a first-of-its-kind Sports University in Saifai. (A national-level university is under construction in Manipur.) The process to acquire land for the university in Saifai, which will come up at the cost of Rs 5 crore, has already begun, confirmed a top government official. The move is a revision of an earlier proposal which had suggested setting up a sports college for women. A sports college for boys is already functional and a hostel with a capacity of 250 students is currently under construction at the cost of Rs 15 crore.
UP Sports Department Secretary Bhuvnesh Kumar said Professor Dileep K Durehra of BHU has submitted a presentation for the proposed university which will have specialised courses from graduation to doctorate level in sports biomechanics, sports psychology and sports health among others. Since Saifai has been stretched to its limit with projects and land becoming scarce, adjoining Mainpuri district has been asked to provide nearly 70 acres of land, he added.
The government has also spruced up several other infrastructure facilities in the Saifai Kreeda Sankul (Sports Complex) spread over more than 80 acres of land.
The athletic stadium with synthetic track for events and a renovated gallery is now complete. Another indoor complex offering facilities for games like volleyball, basketball, wrestling, badminton, etc has also been made centrally air-conditioned. The total site development has been completed with new roads, parking and an administrative block with the state exchequer being billed Rs 60 crore for all of it, Kumar informed.
Officials informed of other projects being undertaken by the state government.
Yogendra Pal Singh, Saifai Sports Officer, said that an all-weather swimming pool, the cost of which has escalated from Rs 103 crore to Rs 207 crore, is also under construction. The project will boast of providing all international-level facilities such as a practice pool, a main pool and a diving pool under one roof. It will also have an administrative block, a gymnasium, a VIP gallery and accommodation for swimmers. Saifai already has a swimming pool functional in Chandagi Ram stadium.
Moreover, Saifai will now have two astroturf for hockey – the existing one will be used for practice purposes while a new one, at the cost of Rs 6.30 crore, will be laid for matches as per international requirement. With this, Etawah will have three synthetic astroturf in the district.
In a sign of how serious the government is regarding its “future expansion of sports facilities”, the state’s Sports Department has refused to part with the “reserved” land for the complex to the Tourism Department, which wanted to construct a guest house.