M’laya selected to host National Games in 2022
SHILLONG: Opposition leaders raised a series of questions in the Assembly on the State’s preparedness to host the National Games in 2022 after Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Zenith Sangma informed the House about the Indian Olympic Association’s green signal to Meghalaya.
In reply to a query by HSPDP’s Ardent Basaiawmoit during the question hour, Zenith said the State government received an official communication from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on March 20 that Meghalaya’s bid was selected.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, while congratulating the Sports Department and the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, said this is an opportunity for the State to set a new benchmark.
IOA approved Meghalaya’s bid for hosting the National Games on December 27, 2016, and the recent official letter paved the way for the State to host the event, Zenith said and added that it is a proud moment for Meghalaya. The next step will be to sign a contract between IOA and the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, the minister said.
To a question, Zenith said the State government is proposing over 30 disciplines. In reply to a query by UDP’s Embhahlang Syiemlieh, the minister said the bid amount is Rs 5 crore, out of which Rs 50 lakh was already paid and the remaining will be paid when the contract is signed.
Raising a supplementary question, UDP’s Paul Lyngdoh said the major concern will be the problem of accommodation as was experienced during the SAF Games.
Lyngdoh wanted to know from the minister how prepared is the State government to host the National Games.
In reply, Zenith said in due course of time, the matter will be discussed as a series of committees will be formed in the days to come.
He also said a games village will be created for the purpose and it is expected that there will be 13,000 participants, including athletes.
Saleng Sangma (Independent) said it will be a big challenge for the government in terms of providing adequate infrastructure.
“I am not being pessimist. I am a realist as there are projects in Meghalaya pending for 10 to 15 years,” Saleng said.
To a question whether any games village will be set up in Ampati, the minister said the matter is yet to be decided.
Raising a supplementary question, UDP’s Jemino Mawthoh said the participation of sports persons from Meghalaya should be ensured in the event.
Zenith said the State will participate in disciplines like boxing, martial arts and archery, among others.
The chief minister said the government decided to bid for the Games after considering all pros and cons.
He said the government will mobilise resources within five years and added that a new approach will be adopted for the use of games village after the event as a committee will examine whether these should be converted into hospitality products. He added that the government will involve all the members of the House and the people to make it a success.
The chief minister also recalled that when the National Games were held in Manipur, government employees had contributed a day’s salary.
Asserting that the government and the people will have to work hard, the chief minister said the National Games will coincide with the 50th year of the statehood of Meghalaya.
Later, addressing the media on Thursday, Zenith said Rs 1,300-1,500 crore would be required to host the event and 60-70 percent of the funding would be provided by the Union government.
There is a proposal to host 38 disciplines.
He said the State government is looking at the Kerala model for holding the event and the government would create infrastructure in such a way that the same could be used even for holding international sporting events after the National Games.
Working president of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, John Kharshiing, said the event would require joint participation of all stakeholders. “When Manipur could do it way back in the nineties, why can’t Meghalaya host the event,” he said.
He said the Meghalaya Sports Policy, which has been placed on the floor of the House, will be of great help in successfully organising the event.
Till date, only two states in the North East have hosted the National Games – Manipur in 1999 and Assam in 2007.