The promised wrestling ground re­mains a prom­ise

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NEWS - G Mo­hi­ud­din Jeddy ■ ht­for­nav­i­mum­bai@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

PHO­TOS: BACHCHAN KU­MAR

This is what the ne­glected and shut akhada at Nerul looks like.

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