In the lead-up to the 19th Asian Games, scheduled to commence shortly, the tale of the Manoj Sarkar Stadium in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand, serves as a stark reminder of the challenges confronting Indian athletes in their pursuit of sporting excellence. For the past two years, this multipurpose stadium, situated in the heart of the city, has been marred by neglect, with its halls occupied by the supply department. This unfortunate situation has left karate, taekwondo, and judo athletes grappling with discomfort while the facility steadily deteriorates, affecting a staggering 55 state, national, and international-level players.
Jashanpreet Singh, a national-level karate player, vividly describes the appalling conditions. A foul smell hangs heavily in the sports hall, an ominous reminder of the rotting rations that have been stored there for two years. These rations, intended for flood disaster relief, have now become a breeding ground for mites and insects, rendering it nearly impossible for athletes to practice effectively. The situation has forced many athletes to relocate their training.
The genesis of this predicament can be traced back to 2021 when the stadium was commandeered to store several quintals of rations meant for flood disaster relief. However, official neglect and a lack of decisive action have allowed these rations to spoil and become infested with insects. The nauseating stench of decomposing food and the presence of rodents have driven athletes away.
While the district administration took cognizance of the issue in April and initiated an investigation, the supply department remained indecisive about the fate of the ruined rations even six months later. Consequently, athletes are compelled to practice outdoors within the stadium premises. Girish Kumar, the in-charge district sports officer, expressed his concerns, stating, "The multipurpose sports hall is deteriorating due to the rotting rations. A letter was sent to the supply department officer 15 days ago, urging them to remove the rations, but no action has been taken."
Vipin Kumar, the district supply officer, cited uncertainty regarding the quality of certain ration items, including gram dal, flour, and rice. He indicated that an investigation into salvageable items is still pending. These developments highlight the urgent need for transparency, accountability, and swift action to address issues of corruption and negligence. Until these concerns are addressed, athletes will continue to grapple with adversity, and sports facilities will deteriorate.
The plight of the Manoj Sarkar Stadium in Rudrapur serves as a stark reminder that the dreams of aspiring athletes can be stifled by the negligence of authorities. For the athletes affected by this unfortunate situation, the road to excellence is riddled with obstacles, and their remarkable dedication to their chosen sports deserves more than the dismal conditions they currently endure. It is imperative that authorities act swiftly to restore this facility to its intended glory, ensuring that athletes can train without hindrance and that their dreams remain within reach.