Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gill opens Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium

Sports Minister M.S.Gill Sunday opened the revamped Major Dhyan Chand National stadium, the first Commonwealth Games venue to be finished, and said other venues for the October mega event will be completed on time.

The remodelled stadium, which is scheduled to host the hockey World Cup Feb 28-March 13, is the first among the Commonwealth Games venues to be opened.

The stadium, revamped at a cost of Rs.262 crore, is spread over 36 acres, has three synthetic pitches, two conforming to international standards and the third a practice pitch. New polygrass turf has been laid on all the pitches which are equipped with new sprinkler systems.

The stadium has a sitting capacity of about 16,200 spectators. The second pitch outside the main arena has 900 permanent seats and a provision for 1,600 temporary seats.

"The facilities in the stadium are state-of-the-art. So much work has been done in the stadium that you can say it is almost new. It is one of the best hockey stadiums in the world," Gill said.

The stadium was originally built in 1933 as an amphitheatre. It was renovated for first Asian Games held in 1951 and then for the 1982 Asian Games.

"The stadium has a rich legacy. It is synonymous with Indian hockey. It brings back memories of my childhood when I came here with my father from Meerut during the first Asian Games to see India play in the football finals. I remember Mewalal scoring a bicycle kick goal. Today, I recall those nostalgic moments," Gill said.

Gill said the stadium could be completed on time because of the hard work of the engineers and the 2000 workers.

"When I first visited the stadium last year, it was in a mess with construction work going on and I wondered whether it could be completed on time. But the CPWD engineers, Sports Authority of India officials gave me assurance that it will be done on time."

"It could be possible because of them and more importantly the 2000 people, who come from all over the counrty, and have worked day and night in this cold, to complete the work in one year," Gill said amid loud applause from the guests and the workers.

"We got the hosting rights of the Commonwealth Games in 2003. I do not know what happened in five years, but since I came in 2008, I have visited the sites regularly. I have sat with the officials and made sure that the work is completed."

"I can assure you that with the opening of this stadium, we have made a beginning and now you will see the venues will be completed one after another. Yes, we could have finished the work one year in advance, like they are doing in London, to get the facilities tested, but at least we can ensure that the venues will come up well before the Commonwealth Games."

Gill used the opportunity to take a dig at the national sports federations.

"If you don't deserve to be there, then you should voluntarily and happily step aside," Gill said while talking about the Weightlifting Federation of India (WFI) that has been newly elected following the doping mess.

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