Players unhappy over Govt’s decision to hold R-Day function at MA Stadium

‘Decision to blow death-knell for sports’
*Need to reconsider decision: First Class Players

Excelsior Sports Correspondent

JAMMU, Oct 15: The sports fraternity of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the cricket players criticised the Govt’s decision of holding 2020 Republic Day function at MA Stadium.
Divisional Commissioner of Jammu Sanjeev Verma on the other day chaired a meeting with officers to review the arrangements for Republic Day, 2020 celebration and it was informed that the main function would be held at MA Stadium, Jammu.
The reaction of the prominent sportspersons came day after Divisional Commissioner Jammu finalised MA Stadium as venue for the forthcoming Republic Day celebration.
“The Government’s decision to organise Republic Day function is going to blow a death-knell for sports and games in the State. In view of the ongoing construction work of stadium, Republic Day 2019 function was held at the University of Jammu, after raising a full-fledged infrastructure. For good health of sports, the Govt should use the same venue this time also,” said a group of prominent sportspersons of the State while talking to EXCELSIOR.
“It is unfortunate if the Government has again finalised MA Stadium as the venue to hold R Day function 2020,” said First Class cricketers who are the members of current J&K Vijay Hazare team.
They said the Government should reconsider its decision in the interest and welfare of the sports. “An alternate location should be identified and by the time, the function can be held annually in Jammu University Ground, as it happened in 2019.”
“How shocking is it to observe that the Government decided to hold the 2020 R Day function at the cost of sports, especially when the infrastructure is exclusively being raised by the Governor’s Administration and plans are also in pipeline to host IPL matches,” said Dheeraj, former junior selector of Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA).
He said that the players’ community must raise their voice against this decision of the Divisional Administration.
“The players fraternity was very happy when the administration had fixed Jammu University in January 2019 to hold the function,” he said, adding that the players were hopeful that the Stadium will now be used by the cricketers only and the venue will become Mecca for the gentleman’s game.
“It is really sad that the stadium, once completed, will be used for Republic Day celebrations,” rued Dhruv Mahajan, former Ranji Trophy player, while adding that how the venue can be maintained for IPL matches, if it has to be used for rehearsals.
“It is learnt that the Government is also planning to host IPL matches in near future, but for that, the ground needs clearance from the curator and the BCCI official-cum-experts, which will happen, only after they visit the venue,” he added.
If the Republic Day function is organised at M A Stadium, then the venue may not remain in good condition to host matches of national and international levels, maintained Dhruv.
“The Government must seriously think over its decision and let the M A Stadium exclusively remain for cricket and the adjoining upcoming indoor hall for other games, as it will not only keep sports flourishing, but also boost the regional economy, said Ashwani Gupta, former Ranji Trophy player, adding that more national, international or IPL like activities means a boost to tourism and the economy will automatically grow.
“Why can’t we learn from the neighbouring State of Himachal Pradesh, where the Dharamsala and other cricket stadia are not only a venue for cricket matches, but also acting as a big tourism industry for the state,” he wondered.
“If the Jammu University was not to be used as permanent venue to hold the Republic Day function, then what was the use of spending so much, to raise the special infrastructure for the 2019 event,” he rued and alleged that it was only a ‘misuse’ of funds.
The Divisional Commissioner took a comprehensive review of arrangements being made and stressed on better synergy between the concerned departments for the smooth conduct of the National event.
It is pertinent to mention here that the renovation and rebuilding of the stadium was estimated to cost around Rs 50 crore under the Prime Minister’s Special Package, being supervised by the National Projects Construction Corporation (NPCC).
The Stadium, when completed, will have a well-established Pavilion, with Standard Gymnasium, Conference Halls, Open VIP, Media and Player Zones and Galleries, and not to talk of the customary Dressing and Changing Rooms, besides Match Referee Rooms, Umpires Rooms, Medical Rooms and Dope Test Rooms, in a modernised fashion.
There will also be a provision for establishing around 20,000 seats in the entire Stadium, including VIP Galleries in the Pavilion.
The shifting of R-Day celebration function from MA Stadium was one of the major and long-pending demands of the sportspersons and sports lovers and enthusiasts, as they wanted the government to come up with a separate venue to host the function, so that the sports activities do not get hampered at the time, when competitions of national and international level are round the corner.
Before 2019, the stadium was every year, closed for sports activities for nearly two months, from the first week of December till January due to security reasons for Republic Day celebrations, followed by ‘Beating the Retreat’.