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SAI grassroots programmes face tough fund crunch, centres may close

Sports Authority of India’s grassroots programmes across the country have been hit by a financial crisis.

According to documents accessed by HT, financial assistance amounting to more than Rs 20 crore, from December 2018 to March 2019, to regional centres responsible for running residential schemes is still pending.

The head of one of major SAI regional centre, who did not wish to be named, said that there is even apprehension that some centres could close down.

“Currently we are running schemes on goodwill,” he said. “Though we have assured contractors providing meals and other facilities to residential athletes that funds will come soon, if the backlog continues, we might have to close down the centres.”

Sports secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya says there is no financial crunch and all schemes are running smoothly.

“After joining the Sports Ministry in February, I have visited some centres in the South,” he said. “I interacted with athletes, contractors and officials but no one apprised me of inadequate funds. If there is any delay it could be due to lack of utilisation certificate.”

Currently there are more than 14,000 young athletes under various SAI schemes which function for 330 days in a calendar year. At the start of the financial year the budget for the schemes is approved by the SAI financial department and released quarterly to the regional centres.

According to the documents, officials from SAI centres in Kolkata, Mumbai, Gandhinagar and Sonepat had all requested for immediate release of funds in January, and have not got a reply yet.

Vendors contracted to supply sports kits to the athletes are also waiting for their payment. “There is usually a long delay,” one of the vendors said. “Sometimes more than six months.”

First Published:
Apr 14, 2019 22:40 IST

Source: HindustanTimes