THIURVANANTHAPURAM: The prospect of the Southern sub-centre of Sports Authority of India (SAI) coming to the city had elicited some cheers two years back. In fact, the cheers have turned brighter in Bhopal, Punjab and Delhi, where the sub-centres were announced along with Kerala.
With the project almost translated into reality in all the three places, the same has not moved a single stride in the city towards realisation even after two years. In fact, the concerned authorities will have to rue over their indolence, since neighbouring Tamil Nadu has already geared up its efforts to shift the centre to Nagercoil.
It was the then Central Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs M S Gill who had mooted the project of bringing Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka under one sub-centre and Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry under another sub-centre. When the Centre allotted the sub-centre to Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram was pegged as the top spot considering the possibility of value-addition to the existing facilities at LNCPE, Kariavattom. Resultantly, a proposal requesting ten acres of land adjacent to LNCPE was submitted to the government. The proposal, however, has not moved an inch since.
"We would have needed Rs 25 crore and nearly 40 acres of land to fully realise the project. But with LNCPE already functioning at a decent standard, we could have set up the sub-centre close to its campus with a few additions. We would need only half the amount and acreage. But the government would not grant us the required land,’’ says an official closely associated with the project.
However, M Vijayakumar, the former Sports Minister, says that the state government had never been given any sanction by the Central Government in this regard. ‘’We did not receive any intimation from the Central Government regarding the setting up of a SAI sub-centre in Thiruvananthapuram,’’ he said.
Even as Vijayakumar proclaims ignorance, another official related to the project says that the then state government had held discussions with them on the sub-centre. ‘’The matter was even brought up before the Minister in the Assembly. He had said that the government would seriously consider granting ten acres close to LNCPE campus,’’ the official said.
The coming up of the sub-centre would have meant high-class coaching facilities for Kerala athletes. ‘’Now, our athletes practise either in Bangalore or Patiala. With a sub-centre in the city, all the national camps and foreign coaches can be brought here. It would do a world of good to our budding athletes and also for other games teams,’’ says Najimuddeen S, secretary, KPCC Kayikavedi.
Once the sub-centre comes up, all the funds will be mobilised directly. As of now, these funds are being disbursed by the Regional Centre in Bangalore. With a sub-centre in the city, the delay in procuring and utilising these funds can also be averted.
Sources say that the city will have to pay dearly for the delay in implementing the project. It is learnt that Tamil Nadu has already identified 52 acres of land in a village called Rajakkamangalam for setting up the sub-centre. "They are very much interested in the project. It won’t be surprising if SAI decides to strike off Thiruvananthapuram and replaces it with Nagercoil in the scheme of things,’’ says an official.