BENGALURU : While sprinter Hima Das and gymnast Dipa Karmakar are being celebrated for their international golds by the entire country, sportspersons from this state are patiently waiting for due appreciation and respect. Funding is crucial in this field, and though a large part of it comes from sponsorships, sporters are also heavily dependent on cash prizes that the government gives for winning at invitational national and international events.
Disappointingly, the state government is yet to reward 116 winners with a total of `1.34 crores, which has been due to them since 2013-14. This is according to the records from the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports. The department is yet to even look into the following years' applications. And, there is money. Last year, the department received `9.4 crores from the budget and they gave away `7.79 crores to 760 sportspersons.
International level powerlifter and trainer, Raghavendra, says that he is yet to see the `2.5 lakhs from his national-level medals won in 2013 -- three silvers, one bronze and one gold. "The authorities gave me a call this year saying that, since there is a new government in place, money from awards won in 2013 may take another six months," says a disappointed Raghavendra, who is participating in the World Powerlifting Championships being held in Russia.
He paid many follow-up visits to Kanteerava Stadium but to no avail. "Our federation is one of the oldest but is not recognised, powerlifters have been struggling with no support from anyone," he says. Paralympics swimmer Sharath M Gayakwad also expresses his dismay on not receiving `6.75 lakhs for wins from 2014. He was told by officials that there are budget constraints. "I started my career in 2003 and there was no cash prize until 2010. Then, from 2013, we stopped receiving any payments," he says.
"A few of the sportspersons and their families depend on these," Sharath says.
World bronze medalist of 2014, billiards player B Bhaskar, says that he received cash awards from the central government within three months but there was delay of over four years for the same from the state government. "They have no regard for sports here and they have been paying us in installments," he says.
"The sports culture is declining in Bengaluru because of delay in payments," says Bhaskar, adding that the state gives little support to sports people while Punjab provides them with government jobs.
'Payment will be done in a few months'
Deputy Director Sateesh Sajjanar says that the dues will be paid off in the next few months. He says several factors decide payment of applicants, such as the recognition of the sport, invitational tournaments and federation they are attached to. At present only 53 federations are recognised in India and a few sports may have more than one. Secretary of the Karnataka Olympic Association, Anantha Raju, throws up his hands. “We still have not received the funds from the government, then how can we pay them,” he asks.