Khelo India, the nation’s flagship sports development programme, continues to be the blue-eyed baby. It received more than 50 percent of the increased allocation of Rs. 723.97 crore in the latest Union budget on Wednesday.
An increase of Rs. 439 crore for Khelo India carries the sports budget to a new high of Rs. 3,397.32 crore. Importantly, Khelo India’s budget of Rs. 1,045 crore accounts for just under a third of the total allocation.
Last year, the sports budget saw an increase of Rs. 305.58 crore. This year, the reflected gross increase stands at over Rs. 700 crore only because the Sports Ministry received a reduced allocation of Rs. 2,673.35 crore during the financial year against the budget of Rs.3,062.60 crore.
With India’s preparations for the postponed Asian Games and the 2024 Paris Olympic Games set to gain pace, the Sports Authority of India’s budget has seen only a marginal increase of Rs. 36.09 crore for a total of Rs. 785.82 crore.
The SAI funds the National preparatory camps, provides infrastructure, equipment, and appoints coaches. In the past, the government has raised the allocations, if needed, during the fiscal year.
The National Sports Federations will receive Rs. 325 crore - as against Rs. 280 last year - an increase of Rs. 45 crore.
The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) will receive a funding of Rs. 21.73 crore while the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) shall get Rs. 19.50 crore. A provision of Rs. 13 crore has been made for the National Centre of Sports Science and Research.
However, on the downside, the incentives for sportspersons comes down from Rs. 55 crore last year to Rs. 45 crore. Similarly, the National Sports Development Fund continues to downward swing. It stands at Rs. 15 crore, down by a crore from the previous budget. In fact, in the budget before the last one, it stood at Rs. 25 crore.
Reacting to the budget, Director General of the Confederation of Sports and Recreation Industry (CSRI) Rajpal Singh said, “We welcome the overall increase in the sports budget and reiterate our request to the Government to grant industry status to the sports sector. The inclusion of the sports industry in the Harmonized Master List of Infrastructure sub-sectors will make it eligible for long-term financial support from banks and other financial institutions.”