The promised wrestling ground remains a promise
The politicians’ promise for a ground for wrestling seems to be just a promise.
Since 2005, there have been assurances by the political leaders of building a modern wrestling akhada. But, it has remained just lip service.
The traditional sport has been ignored for years by both NMMC and Cidco.
No land has been allotted for it yet. There are over 100 wrestlers in the city whose careers are bleak due to the lack of the facility to practise.
Aditya Bapu Unawne, president of Samrat Sports Academy who had earlier started an akhara in Nerul, said: “Despite repeated pleas, we are not being allotted land for the akhada. The career of wrestlers is at stake, while several have lost it.”
He said, “If no action is taken soon, we will be forced to launch an agitation.”
In 2005, Maharashtra statelevel wrestling tournament was first organised by NMMC at RF Naik school ground in Kopar Khairane. The then minister Ganesh Naik had during the prize distribution ceremony declared that a state of the art wrestling akhada will be constructed in the city within a year.
Recently, mayor Sudhakar Naik, too, gave the same assurance during the prize distribution ceremony.
Those wanting to pursue their career in wrestling have to go to other cities such as Pune and Kolhapur to practise.
TWO AKHARAS SHUT
National gold medal winner Krishna Raskar and his associates had prepared an akhada in truck terminal area. The akhada built under a tin shed has to be shut during monsoon. After the rain, huge sums have to be spent again to prepare the ground.
There is no drinking water facility for players. While there is a temporary facility at APMC, a full-fledged akhada in Nerul was shut last year.
Cidco, which has let illegal multi-storey come up in the city, termed the akhada as illegal.
Taking into account the problems faced by wrestlers, Samrat Sports Academy of Nerul started a temporary wrestling akhada on Cidco plot at Sector 6, next to Shushrusha hospital. The academy had taken the place on rent. Around 50 to 60 wrestlers had started coming for practice regularly.
In July last year, following an anonymous letter, Cidco suddenly ordered the academy to shut the akhara, terming it as illegal.
The plot on which the akhada was developed had earlier been encroached upon by some developers. A workers’ colony had come up on the plot with a toilet facility. The plot was being used as a godown. No action was taken against the encroachers.
Aditya Bapu Unawne , president of the academy, said, “The academy had legally asked for temporary use of the plot. I spent around Rs5 lakh to remove the debris from the plot. We developed the mud-based wrestling ground in March last year and even hosted a state-level competition.”
He added, “The academy had given a written undertaking that it would vacate the plot once Cidco takes a policy decision on the use of the plot. The patrons are upset that despite following all the procedures, Cidco has shut down the facility.”
The place has now become a virtual dumping ground.
This is what the neglected and shut akhada at Nerul looks like.