As India's women hockey team was pushed to last rankings at the Rio Olympics, Sports Authority of India has found itself in the middle of a storm with questions being raised about the lack of proper training for players due to poor quality of its training centre in Bhopal and an alleged corruption in laying Rs 3 crore turf.
In a letter to the principal secretary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi dated August 10, 2016 (a copy of which has been obtained by THE WEEK), Francis D’Souza, deputy chief minister of Goa alleged that the women hockey team could not practice in Bhopal due to poor turf. The team had refused to play on the ground due to weaving defects and holes in the blue turf exclusively meant for the training of the Olympic team, he said.
D’Souza said that the regional director of the SAI in Bhopal, Roque Dias was abruptly transferred when he refused to release payment of the firm which had laid the astro-turf. Dias had pointed out that turf was not in accordance with Rio Olympics.
The SAI had decided to make Bhopal a permanent training base for women hockey team. In order to create Olympic like environment and infrastructure, a blue turf was installed at a cost of Rs 2.76 crore. However the turf could not be put to use as the hockey team refused to play on the ground.
The then regional director, in order to keep a quality check, had installed CCTV camera to monitor the construction of the turf. It was noticed that the firm, UPRNN, had not laid bituminous layer of the blue turf. When the anomaly was pointed out, the regional director was transferred, said D’Souza.
The blue turf in Bhopal was installed on the request of Hockey India which had laid a similar one in Bangalore for the hockey team. Dias had questioned the extra spending of money on the blue turf.
D’Souza said Dias was penalised for raising questions and his salary of over four months was stopped. He said the SAI official was sent packing to SAI promotional schemes monitoring and evaluations committee (SPSMEC) in New Delhi.
The Goa Deputy CM urged the prime minister to intervene and get his salary released.