A long wait for cash awards came to an end for 786 Punjab sportspersons as they were given the Punjab state cash awards for the year 2015-2016 by Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Punjab Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, in a state-level function held in Mohali on Thursday.
While the state government had given cash awards of more than 15 crores to the medal winners of this year’s Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in a state-level function last month, the Punjab players had to wait for more than two years for the cash awards for their state/national/international achievements.
“Promoting talent at the national level is the key to success at the international level and the cash awards for 2015-2-16 were pending since the last three years. More than 750 players have been given cash awards and when each of these players will tell about getting the cash award in their villages, it will promote sports culture in Punjab. Regarding the cash awards for 2026-2017 and 2017-2018, we will soon hold separate functions for the players including 2016 Hockey Junior World Cup winning players. There has also been a delay in Maharaja Ranjit Awards and we will hold the awards function next month for giving the awards,” said Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Punjab Sports and Youth Affairs Minister.
The state government gave a total of Rs 2.46 crore in cash awards to the 786 players. Out of the 22 districts, Patiala led the way as 114 players from the district were given cash awards worth Rs 45.42 lakh followed by Ludhiana with 83 players getting cash awards worth Rs 32.67 lakh.
2018 CWG bronze medallist weight-lifter Vikas Thakur got a cash award of Rs 8 lakh for this medals in 2015-2016 apart from weight-lifter Pardeep Singh, who got a cash award of Rs 6 lakh. Judo player Avatar Singh of Gurdaspur, who played in 2016 Rio Olympics, got a cash award of Rs 3 lakh for his national and international medals apart from Ludhiana’s badminton player Raj Kumar, who got Rs 3.25 lakh.
“After getting the cash award for the bronze medal in CWG, this cash award is also special for me. Even though it has come after a delay of more than two years, recognition of any national or international achievement is always motivating for a player. It’s good that the state government has decided to clear the back log of awards and it will be a huge boost for young players,” shared Vikas Thakur, who had also won a silver medal in 2014 Commonwealth Games.
While 2015 Asian Rowing Championship silver medallist Gurinder Singh’s name was missing from the awards list apart from some other players, who had applied for the award, Sports Department officials said eligible players can approach the department with their documents.
”Some of the players were not eligible while some of the players could not submit their forms inside the deadline period. Eligible players can submit their applications and we will consider them for cash awards and give the awards in next function,” said Sanjay Kumar, Principal Secretary Sports, Punjab.
More than ten players, whose names were in the list of 125 players to be inducted in Punjab Police in 2016 but have been waiting for their appointment letters, met Sodhi. The Punjab Government had advertised for 125 posts in Punjab Police under sports quota in 2016 including 10 DSP, 50 Sub-Inspector and 65 constable jobs.
While the government gave appointment letters for 9 DSP, 33 SI, the remaining 83 selected players are still awaiting their appointment letters.
“Punjab government had advertised for 125 such posts under sports quota in July 2016 and we had submitted our documents. After the selection list came, 42 players were given appointment letters before the code of conduct for last year’s state elections was applied. It has been two years since we have been approaching the sports department, Police Department and Home department and we still have not been given the appointment letters. Apart from playing, we also have to worry about job and such things demotivate us,” said an international level fencer.