Anger mounts over shifting of women sports hostel from Brahmapur
Public anger is mounting by the day over the move to shift the Women Weight Lifting Sports Training Hostel from the premises of the historical Brahmapur Stadium. A number of sports lovers, senior citizens, members of different political outfits and social workers strongly demand withdrawal of the Government's proposal.
After the seemingly secret proposal came to their notice, several well-known sports lovers, members of different social organisations and political parties like the BJP submitted a memorandum to the RDC (Southern Division) protesting against the move. In spite of this, the authorities' act of forcibly shifting seven sportswomen from the hostel on March 30 night to an unknown place without giving any notice has triggered severe public criticism in the city.
Mention may be made that in the field of weightlifting, the district of Ganjam, more particularly Brahmapur city, has occupied a special space in the sports map of the world as several sportsmen and women of this region have achieved recognition by demonstrating their talents in different games and sports at the State, national and international levels and won a good number of medals as well as two Arjun Awards.
When the authorities wanted to shift a truckload of valuable sports equipments worth about Rs40 lakh from the hostel in the late night on Wednesday with the help of the local police apparently with an intention to escape public notice, sports lovers and members of different clubs in the city, after getting the information, assembled at the stadium and locked its main gate to prevent transportation of the equipments without any notice or Government order, pointed out a prominent citizen, Uttam Rao.
The agitators, who are now sitting in a dharna alleged that the District Sports Officer, weightlifting coach P Dharma Rao, the Sports Authority of Odisha and the local elected representatives are the key conspirators for shifting of the hostel to Bhubaneswar. A member of Ganjam District Weightlifting and Wrestling Association said that since the girls were shifted overnight from the hostel to an unknown place without any prior notice or written order of the Government or the Sports Authority of Odisha, they lodged an FIR in the Town police station to this effect on Wednesday.
Uttam Rao strongly criticised the views aired by the local MLA who said that on security reasons the sports girls were shifted to Bhubaneswar. If the district administration or the Government cannot provide security to seven sportswomen in the stadium, how the Government can provide security to more than three lakh residents of the city, he questioned. "The weak leadership of our elected representatives is the main reason for the step-motherly attitude of the Government towards this historic city," he added.
It may be noted that due to untiring efforts of well-known social worker Dr. Feroz Ali, the long-cherished dream of Brahmapur citizens for an auditorium became a reality in 1977. Similarly, George Fernandez, during his tenure as Union Minister of Defence, had helped construction of the Brahmapur Stadium.
However, due to the apathy of both State and Central Governments now, half of the earmarked land is yet to be handed over for the stadium, as a result of which the long-awaited dream of making the stadium a full-fledged one still remains far from a reality, said former Assembly Deputy Speaker and social worker Rama Chandra Panda. In the context of shifting this Sports Hostel, he said it is a clear conspiracy by the State Government to further weaken the Brahmapur Stadium. He demanded the remaining fifty per cent of the land be transferred to the authorities to make the stadium a modern state-of-the-art one.
Representatives of Bir Hanuman Club, Balunkeswar Byayam Kendra, Shankar Physical, Chacha Nehru Gymnasium, youth leaders Uttam Raulo, Bulu Subudhi, Manoranjan Das, Bhaskar Mohanty, Dandapani Sahu, Ramesh Chandra Padhi, Santosh Kumar Sahu and Rama Patra, Advocate N Rajendra Kumar and several other leaders and sports lovers are on dharna protesting against shifting of the women sports hostel. They also demanded that the shifted sportswomen be brought back to the hostel immediately to make the hostel functional.
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