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The dawn of a new sports era in Kashmir

The dawn of a new sports era in Kashmir

"The day has come when all the pending approvals related to sports or infrastructure will be cleared by the central government and a new sunrise in the development will be shown to the UT of Jammu and Kashmir," Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, had assured while addressing the locals in Suchetgarh, earlier this year.

The minister was right in emphasizing that Article 370 was the real impediment towards the development of the erstwhile state and that the Valley youth had been deprived of sports opportunities and infrastructure for decades.

There were no false promises made this time around. The government meant business as it was proved when it went ahead with the first Khelo India Winter Games in Gulmarg in March even as many wanted it to be postponed due to Covid-19.

As over 900 sportspersons from as many as 20 states landed in Gulmarg, Centre's plan to set up a National Excellence Centre of Winter Sports at the venue was also announced.

The bigger challenge was to maintain the pace of development, to implement the centrally-sponsored schemes efficiently as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the world.

<strong><a href="https://indianarrative.com/india/army-keeps-spirits-high-in-kashmir-awaam-says-thank-you-4552.html">India Narrative had reported</a></strong> earlier on how the Indian armed forces continued to do their bit even in these challenging times by organizing events throughout the Valley – from a volleyball tournament in Gund Hanjik village in Budgam to the sports festival in Tangmarg – to keep their connect with the Kashmiri awaam intact and the morale of the youth high.

Meanwhile, the construction activity of new sports facilities in the Valley has picked up after ease of lockdown restrictions. The concerned authorities, including the Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council, know well that good summer weather can't be wasted just like that.

Work on the state-of-the-art indoor stadium adjacent to the sports ground in Budgam, being constructed at a cost of Rs four crore, has been expedited too.

Sarmad Hafeez, Secretary, Youth Services &amp; Sports Department, who visited the construction site a few weeks ago, has directed the concerned authorities to accelerate the pace of work by further adding to the existing manpower and machinery.

Besides this prestigious project, the playfields at Kralpathri and Sikinambal shall be completed soon while end of August could see the inauguration of new synthetic courts for sports like volleyball, basketball and badminton at various other locations in the Valley.

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Union Minister of State Dr. Jitendra Singh had said that Jammu and Kashmir's transformation will be exemplary in the coming days while laying the foundation stone of a sports stadium to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 1.53 crore at Gole Gujral area of Mud Block in Jammu.

The stadium at Gogoo Humhamma, equipped with all the latest facilities and developed at a cost of Rs 2.74 crore, will also be opened soon.

As a part of Central Government's special public outreach programme, several ministers had undertaken extensive tours of different districts across 60 different locations in both the divisions of Jammu and Kashmir at the start of this year. The objective of their visits was to disseminate the information about the importance of the government policies with regard to the overall development of Jammu and Kashmir and its people. The outreach programme covered five themes – rapid development after President's rule from June 2018 and after reorganization in August 2019, coverage of 55 beneficiary oriented schemes to all the residents of J&amp;K, rapid infrastructural development including implementation of PMDP, flagship schemes and iconic projects, good governance and rule of law with equality of opportunity to all in rapid industrial and economic growth in all sectors with a focus on incomes and employment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in his address to the nation on August 8 last year mentioned how Jammu and Kashmir will witness a new dawn in every sphere of life after the abrogation of Article 370.

"The decision taken by the government will benefit the youth of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and those who aspire to progress in the world of sports. New sports academies, new sports stadiums, training in scientific environments will help them to show their talent in the world," Modi had mentioned in his speech.

With normalcy returning and infrastructure being developed like never before, the day isn't far when Kashmir will host big sporting events and the region will produce some of the country's most talented sportspersons..