White elephant

It was with great fanfare that the sports city near Pune came into existence for the National Games in 1994. But the project faced opposition from Maharashtra itself for concentrating facilities in one place rather than spreading it across the state. The media was told then that the sports city, which is now called the Sri Chatrapathi Sports Complex, would be a model.

However, the critics seem to have had a point. This year, the National basketball and volleyball championships were conducted in the complex, a good 25 kilometres away from the city, and the players were accommodated in `neglected' hostels. About 20 to 30 players were forced to share the few unusable toilets. The bathrooms did not have water and the Railway women's team complained that they couldn't bathe for the whole day after the morning match. There was nothing much to eat after the matches, too, as the area was quite desolate. Though the Mayor of the city got involved, there was little improvement. Some of the teams were shifted to nearby hotels. But, some were forced to stay at the hostel because of the paucity of hotels.

The indoor stadium, where the volleyball events were held in 1994, is in bad shape with only a broken concrete floor. With great difficulty, fresh holes were drilled on the wooden surface and net poles were erected the night before the elite group matches commenced.