After drawing flak for two decisions — a proposed cut in award money for Gold Coast CWG medallists and asking sportspersons employed with state government to deposit one-third of their income from professional sports or commercial endorsements with the State Sports Council — the BJP government in Haryana is all set to take a U-turn.
State Sports and Youth Affairs minister Anil Vij Sunday said all 22 CWG medallists will be given cash prizes without any deduction. In another bid to placate the sports fraternity, he announced that Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has cleared the file pertaining to “out-of-turn appointments” to be given to 207 sportspersons who won medals in international competitions during the tenure of previous as well as the present state government.
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After the government proposed a cut in the award money for CWG medallists employed with units like Railways and Services, several of the athletes had threatened to boycott a mega function the state government had planned in April to award the medallists. Of the 22 CWG medallists from Haryana, 13 represent organisations such as the Indian Railways and the Army.Fearing boycott and further embarrassment, the state government cancelled the felicitation ceremony.
The other move of the state government that drew flak was the sports department issuing a notification asking sportspersons employed with the state government to “deposit one-third of the income earned by them from professional sports or commercial endorsements with the Haryana State Sports Council”.
Chief Minister Khattar has now put it on hold.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Vij said, “There cannot be any compromise with achievements of our sportspersons. They will be given their dues. There will be no deduction from their award money. I shall soon be preparing a file and sending it to the Chief Minister. I will also be taking it up with the Chief Minister to ensure sportspersons get their dues without deductions.”
Vij added, “The file pertaining to out-of-turn appointments to be be given to 207 sportspersons who won medals in international competitions has already been approved by the Chief Minister. I hope that work on issuing appointment letters will commence within this month.”
In a statement released by the state government, Vij said, “An advertisement would also be released in newspapers, and any person up to the age of 50 years, who fulfilled the conditions, would be able to apply against the advertisement. The department would prepare a chart and upload it on its website to enable sportspersons to know the job being offered against the medals won by them.”
Boxer Manoj Kumar, who won the bronze in 69 kg in boxing at CWG this year and is a Class-III employee with Railways, said: “It is the right decision. Haryana government has always been known to support players. The controversy that the government’s earlier decisions generated could have been avoided. As a player, I have always played for the honour of Indian flag and whether we work in Railways or any other central government department, there should be no discrimination with regard to prize money or recruitment of players under sports quota.”
Wrestler Babita Phogat, who won the silver medal at CWG in Australia and is a sub-inspector with Haryana Police, said: “This announcement will help to calm all players who were worried about their prize money getting deducted. Most of the players are training abroad or preparing for the trials for Asian Games. It is the time to fully concentrate on their preparations rather than thinking about this issue.