HYDERABAD: A city that boasts of young sports luminaries who have brought laurels to the state and propelled Telangana's image in the whole country, the condition of Gachibowli indoor stadium has a different story to tell.
It is the only stadium in the whole of Telangana state to have a synthetic track, yet it lies ignored without any upkeep. Such is its condition that last year a sports person and India's top sprinter Dutee Chand who loves Hyderabad, had to abandon the stadium and leave for her home town Bhubaneswar.
Dutee on condition of track in Gachibowli stadium:
In a telephonic interview with Sakshi on Wednesday, Dutee lamented that although she loves practising in Hyderabad, she was forced to leave the city as the synthetic track in the stadium is in poor condition. The 23-year-old sprinter is currently preparing for Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Bhubaneswar.
"As Olympics is just months away, it is not favourable for any athlete to practise in the track inside Gachibowli indoor stadium as I fear there could be an injury, due to poor conditions of the track which needs urgent maintenance," Dutee said.
"The track in the stadium is about 10-15 years old, and there is no maintenance at all. This has forced me to come back to Bhubaneshwar in November last year and practise here," the Asian Games silver medallist added.
"I wanted to practise in Hyderabad as the weather conditions are favourable, people are friendly, and has a good ambience. Moreover, practising in this track only, I won the previous medals, including in the Asian Games. But now, before the 2020 Olympics, which is just months away, I can't risk practising here anymore," the sprinter said.
Stadium built in 2002:
With a seating capacity of 5,000, the stadium which was built in 2002, hosts multiple sporting events, including Kabaddi, taekwondo, table tennis, boxing, judo, wrestling and weight lifting. It is during this time that the synthetic track was first laid in the indoor stadium. Usually, synthetic tracks have the longevity of maximum 10 years, following which re-laying is a must.
But, that wasn't the case. Although Rs.7 crore was sanctioned each to Karimnagar and Warangal indoor stadiums for laying synthetic tracks, none was sanctioned to Gachibowli stadium for its maintenance, said Deepak, an engineer working with Sports Authority of Telangana state.
Talking about taking up the issue with higher authorities, the sprinter said that her coach Nagapuri Ramesh had written to Sports Authority of Telangana State for maintenance of the track, but there was no reply.
She added that around five-six athletes have also left Hyderabad and are practising elsewhere due to the poor conditions of the track and the stadium.
It's hazardous to practice in Gachibowli Stadium: Coach Ramesh
Dutee's coach Ramesh said that unlike Dutee, other players do not have the liberty to move outside the state.
"There are about forty athletes who are practising in the stadium. But unlike Dutee, they do not have the choice to practise elsewhere, and have to practise in the hazardous track," Ramesh told Sakshi.
Sportspersons including G Maheshwari, Shanmuga Srinivas, Deepthi, Pronov, regularly practise in the stadium, the coach said.
"Athletes from all backgrounds come and practise here and the state alone can take up the maintenance of the stadium, along with the help of Centre. It is only because of Dutee's fame that the Gachibowli indoor stadium is known the world over," he added.
Where is the money for repairs?: SAI Chairman
When we reached out to Sports Authority of Telangana state chairman A Venkateshwara Reddy, he said that there is no money at their disposal to fix the track and pinned the blame on Centre.
"Where is the money? How can we go for re-laying the track without money? Government has not given any amount till date even after we brought to the notice of Sports Authority of India and the Centre," Reddy said.
With no respite in sight, when the state ministry throws up its hand in helplessness, what is the fate of the stadium then, is a question we must ask and find an answer to.