SIKKIM NEWS: Artificial turf soon for Paljor – Rs 4.77 crore granted for stadium – anyone calculated the cost of upkeep of plastic turf in an ‘open air stadium’ subject to the effects of damaging weather – better an all out ‘covered’ international standard stadium – but ‘step by step’ we hopefully presume ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, June 23: Paljor Stadium will soon get an artificial turf with the sports and youth affairs department allocating Rs 4.77 crore for it.
A Canadian firm has been given the project to replace the natural grass with the artificial turf, which would make the stadium accessible for daily practice sessions. Natural grass requires meticulous care and nurturing and the grounds are not available for regular use.
The money allotted for the stadium is part of the department’s Rs 14.88 crore demand for grants of 2010-11. The state cabinet had sanctioned the amount earlier this month. Today, the demand for grant was passed by the Assembly.
The state’s decision has raised hopes that this year’s Governor’s Gold Cup Football Tournament will be held on the artificial turf.
The Gold Cup is a premier soccer tournament that has been organised by the Sikkim Football Association (SFA) for the past 30 years. Many prominent clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan participate in the tournament that is organised every year in September-October. Except for four years from 2000 when it was being renovated, Paljor had always been the venue for the Gold Cup. The tournament was held at Namchi in South Sikkim during the four-year break.
The people of Sikkim are excited about the artificial turf plan for Paljor, said Gangtok MLA Dorjee Namgyal Bhutia at the discussion on the demand for grants of the department placed by sports minister N.K. Pradhan in the House.
Suggesting artificial turf for Paljor in the last budget session of the Assembly, Bhutia had said the move would not only save annual maintenance cost of Rs 15 lakh but would also open the stadium to sportspersons. Currently, the access to the stadium with natural grass is restricted.
Today, the MLA requested the sports department to consider constructing roofs on the hillside gallery of the stadium. In his reply, the minister said the estimates had already been called for.
Later, speaking to reporters, Pradhan said a Canadian company had been selected for the artificial turf project. “We have already placed our order with the company and work at the ground level will begin next month. We will try to complete the project by this year especially before the Governor’s Gold Cup. Around four months are required to complete the project,” he said.
The SFA has welcomed the move.
“This positive decision of the government will be cherished by one and all of the soccer fraternity in the state. It has come at a time when the football fever has engulfed the entire globe with the World Cup,” said SFA general secretary Menla Ethenpa. The artificial turf will ensure high standard of the grounds as well as produce more footballers in the years to come.
The SFA hopes that this year’s Gold Cup will be played on an artificial turf at Paljor Stadium.
“To give Paljor an international look, we also hope that the stadium will have floodlights in the days to come,” Ethenpa said.