Mrunal Manmay Dash

Once renowned as the heaven for sportspersons, Balasore district has produced many sportspersons and athletes. However, the lackluster facilities and a rapidly degrading sports infrastructure have marred the development of sportspersons in the coastal Odisha town.

As per reports, the district is grappling to provide sufficient playgrounds to children. The government is spending crores of rupees on sports and players. However, most of the grounds in Balasore town do not have the necessary equipment along with the infrastructure.

Meanwhile, residents and sportspersons of the area have expressed their displeasure over the lack of development of playgrounds.

are already very few playing fields in Balasore. Whatever fields we have, they are occupied by morning and evening walkers. We cannot play outdoor games anywhere in Balasore. Even the bigger grounds are gradually getting squeezed by encroachments,” said a local cricketer Kartavya Patra.

“The field near Mahotsav ground was the only big ground for the children to play. But it has now been handed over to the Excise department,” said former Remuna MLA Govinda Chandra Das.

There are four main grounds in the Balasore town including the Mission ground, the ITI playground, the district school ground and the Permit ground.

While no ground is great for playing cricket or soccer, the Permit ground remains closed most of the days after the OCA took it over. As a result, the players are not getting to practice.

“As far as I can remember, Balasore town had two big grounds. One was ITI ground and the other one was Permit ground. The ITI ground remains out of bounds for the children owing to programmes and functions almost all the time,” said a Balasore local Prakash Chandra Das.

Asked about the situation, the Collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde said that steps will soon be taken to upgrade the playgrounds and make them sports-friendly.

“We have preserved many playgrounds in Balasore including the Mission ground, Permit ground and Chandbali field. We are developing the grounds. Recently, an indoor stadium has been built on the ITI ground. We are trying to use the open grounds only for sports and not for other activities,” Shinde said.