RSPB clarifies "commercial development" of 15 sports stadiums

The idea is to modernise the stadium to international standards with residential facilities for sports teams.

An aerial view of upgraded Sports complex of Waltair Division commissioned in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) has issued a clarification in the wake of the fallout of the Railway Board’s letter pertaining to 15 sports facilities selected for “techno-economic studies for commercial development.”

Unlike the Railway Board letter dated 18 May, that authorised the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) to collect all relevant documents and other details from the concerned Zonal Railway, the tone of the letter signed by RSPB Secretary Prem Chand Lochab is different.

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“These identified Railway stadiums will be developed as an asset on a self-sustainable model. It is envisaged to enhance the existing sports and ancillary facilities by modernising them to international standard along with residential facilities for sports teams and training facilities with latest equipment, physio and sports injury rehabilitation center.

Development of these facilities is envisaged by utilising the commercial development potential aspect of the stadium estate. To explore such possibilities, it has been entrusted to RLDA for conducting Techno-economic feasibility studies.

However, the clarification comes with a significant rider. “After techno-feasibility studies, development of the stadium will be taken up, if found financially viable.”

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This rider may not go down well with those protesting the move, like the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF).

In a letter, dated June 3, 2021 and addressed to the Railway Board Chairman, the AIRF pointed out:

“The AIRF is with the sentiments of lakhs of Railwaymen, their families, children and sportspersons since strong resentment and anguish is seen all over the Railway fraternity against arbitrary decision of the Railway Board to handover Railway sports grounds/complex and stadiums to RLDA for commercial development.

“These stadiums and sports complexes/grounds are not surplus and unusable Railway land which can be handed over to anybody else.”

It is indeed very surprising that instead of firmly putting to rest all apprehensions over the possibility of sale of these, or some of these sports facilities, the Railway authorities have chosen to keep a window open by stating, “…development of stadiums will be taken up, if found financially viable.”

In such a scenario, it will be interesting to watch the action of the Railway authorities, in case the “techno-feasibility study” does not favour development of any stadium or stadiums.

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