10 months since announcement, sports varsity is just a wall
Despite availability of land and funds, the project hasn't moved beyond construction of compound wall; threat of encroachment looms large over the Thane plot
Reasons such as paucity of funds or land are the most common hurdles that government projects run into. But in the case of this planned sports university, the project was delayed due to sheer bureaucratic apathy.
The irrigation department handed over a prime piece of land, approximately 75 acres, to a few other departments of the state for various projects in Kalwa and Mumbra in Thane district. Approximately 60 acres were given to the sports department to set up a state-of-the-art sports university.
The land was handed over to the department in January. In March, former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar announced the project in the state legislature, while presenting the state budget for the current financial year.
More than 10 months have passed since the plot was handed over, and seven months since the budgetary allocation was announced, but till date almost everything is still on paper. The sports department has not done anything beyond erecting a compound wall worth Rs 1 crore, sources told MiD DAY.
A state government official said the sports department can spend Rs 20 crore this financial year, but it looks unlikely, as no plans have been chalked yet — neither the blueprint for the building nor a model based on which the university will be developed, among others.
NCP MLA Jitendra Avhad, who was present at the meeting where the proposal to hand over the land was approved, attributed the delay to lack of seriousness on part of the government.
Reasons for delay
“The department of irrigation worked overtime to hand over the land, which could be worth Rs 500 crore. Ajit Pawar chaired several meetings to facilitate the project. But now the threat of encroachment looms large over the precious land,” said Avhad.
Avhad represents the area where the proposed university is expected to come up.
Sports Minister Padmakar Walvi could not be contacted as he was away on a tour.
An official from the ministry said that work could not be undertaken due to the monsoons, and that another department would remove the encroachments.
The official added that the land needed clearances from various departments such as revenue, khar lands and public works.
“Things will be sorted out soon. The university will have courses on physical education and other sports activities besides a stadium complex and tracks,” the official said.