Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Odisha government has been making tall claims of giving utmost importance to sports and boasting of transforming the State as the sports capital of the country. However, the much-exaggerated enterprise of the State government seems to be only confined to organising mega international tournaments by spending a lot of money from the State exchequer.

In one such instance, sports infrastructure continues to plague the Silk City of Odisha as construction of the largest stadium of South Odisha in Berhampur is yet to be completed even after 30 years of inauguration.

Sportspersons of Berhampur have brought laurels for the State and the country time and again by performing splendidly in various national and international level tournaments. They have excelled in events like basketball, boxing and weightlifting. However, the State government has an indifferent approach towards these promising sportspersons. They are feeling neglected and frustrated as they are not able to practice and hone their skills further sans proper infrastructure thanks to the neglect and sheer apathy of the government, rued a local sportsperson.

Apart from the sportspersons, the senior citizens and fitness freaks of the city also depend upon the stadium for their morning and evening walks. However, they are getting deprived of the facility as the stadium gate is locked for years for construction and expansion activities.

Resentment is now brewing among the denizens due to the long delay in the construction work of the stadium. Questions have been raised over the intention of the government. Moreover, the sluggish work by the construction company has added further agony to their woes.

Though they have demanded the district administration for the completion of the stadium several times, their plea has fallen in deaf ears.

“Sportspersons are facing a lot of problems due to the inordinate delay in the construction work of the stadium. They are not able to practice properly as not been allowed inside the stadium for years,” said boxing coach, Shiba Patra.

Meanwhile, Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BeMC) Commissioner J Sonal assured that the project will be completed soon. 

“When the ODRP project was closed, some work under it could not be completed. Now, the necessary fund has been allocated and the stadium work will be completed soon,” said Sonal.