Oh Khuman Lampak Sports Complex: An Orphan?
By Dr. R.K.Nimai
When the new ministry was sworn in March 2017 and portfolios announced everyone who had connection with sports were euphoric as the Chief Minister was a former sportsperson and a sports promoter and administrator and the Sports Minister was also a former sportsperson. It was the belief that they will take personal interest towards the development of sports and sports infrastructure and encourage the young talent. Was the belief belied and were only dreaming or has the belief been converted into a reality? The answer is not easy but the readers may come to their own conclusion after going through the following Paragraphs.
When the 13 FC awarded Rs. 100 crore for the renovation and upgradation of the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex, we were extremely happy, especially so when I was involved in preparing the Detailed Project Report. Our proposal was slightly changed by excluding benefits to sportsperson but the total proposed amount was protected. A modified DPR was again sent but at that time, many of those who were involved in the preparation of the original DPR was not involved. Unfortunately, the work agency was assigned to MDS, which was brought in by the then Minister (YAS); an agency which had no experience with such type of specialised work. Due to various shortcomings, the total amount received under the 13 FC award was limited to Rs. 75 crore, still a huge amount, which could have made the KLSC into a world class facility for sports. If the work had been assigned to PWD, which had got technical persons who had experience in this field, we could have tapped the whole amount and the quality of the work could have been much better.
While on the 13 FC award, various works were taken up and I will not list out all the works but when I saw the new synthetic surface for athletics at the main stadium, I was shocked at the poor quality. The surface had come out in patches inside the track. Fortunately the running track is still okay but the track of the jumping pits has been torn in a few places. This need an immediate enquiry, whether the synthetic surface laid is as per the quality specified in the tender and whether the brand laid is approved by the IAAF.
In 2018-19 we had expected many things to come up in KLSC due to large scale sanction from the budget and withdrawal from 8449 for upgradation and renovation of the infrastructure inside KLSC. But the result is as bad, maybe even worse than previous years! Though some of the works for which sanction have been made is yet to be taken up; many were claimed to have been completed. It is learnt that the works were assigned to TP Cell and Water Resources Department, whose technical knowledge in this specialised field is questionable. There may be competent staff but from the quality of the works claimed to have been completed, their competency is indeed in serious doubt.
It was very difficult to get the details of all the sanctions and releases made for KLSC and even if got, it was incomplete and hence a detailed individual analysis of each work is not easy to carry out. But from the work executed and from the cost estimate, it is very clear that the works executed are below sub-standard and there is a racket going on in the execution of the works. Nearly 25% of the cost of any work is recovered as deductions on account of agency charge, GST and Labour Cess and with `15 % contractor’s profit the actual amount for work comes to only about 60% of the total cost. But from seeing the works, it seems that not even 20% of the cost have been utilised for the execution of the work.
The first work one sees just on entering KLSC is the renovation of the parking lot in front of the main Indoor Stadium. It was estimated to cost about Rs. 2. 35 crore of which the work component is Rs.1.90 crore approximately. The quality of the work is so poor that it is not only uneven but the middle portion is lower than the rim portion so that after a rain, water collects in the middle. To ensure that the water is drained out, a meandering ugly shallow drain was cut across, which makes the parking lot ugly and gives a first bad impression of the KLSC to any visitors.
Another work is the renovation of the auditorium for Youth and the old cricket field at a cost of Rs. 1.70 crore, with the work component being about Rs. 1.35 crore. It is learnt that the auditorium is to be ceilinged and the floor marble tiled. But the floor looks to be laid with linoleum and there is no ceiling. For the ground levelling of the old cricket ground, it seems only some portion had been harrowed on the central eastern side and about 20 truckloads of sandy loam dumped and levelled. There was no light rolling so much so that the ground is uneven and the north-west side was untouched and continues to be low lying as earlier. It seems that hardly any work has been carried out.
Due to regular practice by the players of the RCC, the condition of the two practice fields on the north of the Hockey stadium was very bad and it was a good decision to renovate the two at a total cost of Rs. 63 lakh. But alas, the quality of the work is not only poor but the work was not executed as per the need. The good quality old wire mesh fencing was taken out and replaced by a very poor quality wire mesh (As per CPWD Manual followed in Manipur, all old materials should be deposited to the department and cannot be taken by the contractor. But this is followed more in breach. The old material should have been auctioned). Even all the angle iron which was fixed to support the wire mesh is not fixed in concrete; alternative pillar was in concrete while the rest in mud and the quality of these angle irons are also of inferior quality. Even the last pillars near the gate are not of angle iron; so if pulled it bends easily and one can go inside the ground without going through the gate. The football practice field seem to have been slightly raised but even light rolling is not carried out. Even the quality of the loamy soil brought in was of poor quality as a result lots of weeds are there. The hockey practice field was worse, where the level was not raised and here also the ground is very uneven. The Bermuda grass planted also does not grow well and it is not mowed. The waste materials were not taken out but dumped inside. Playing in such condition ground is dangerous and can lead to lots of injury.
Slightly more than Rs. 1 crore was sanctioned for renovation of Sports Hostel No. 1 and the State Youth Centre. There was a need to renovate the two as these were occupied by the members of the District Council and had not seen repair for a long time. However, I remember clearly that when the Tata Trusts team came for the establishment of the Centre for Excellence, it was decided to hand over Sports Hostel No. 1 for the Centre and the Hockey Practice Field (though there was very strong opposition as quite a few wants to used the old cricket field but as archery is practiced there it would not be safe) and the leader of the Tata Trusts when the hostel was inspected, informed the CM that they will do the repairing to suit their need. But the work was carried out with hardly any major renovation except for white washing that also very poorly carried out.
There seems no logic of having a separate Sports Museum for which Rs. 35 lakhs was sanctioned. The museum is proposed to be housed in the old office of the DYASOs, IE & IW who had been asked to shift elsewhere. The original decision of the Government at the time of preparing the DPR for the National Games in 1999 was to have the museum at the ground floor of the Main Stadium, where there are lot of space. Some artefacts and photos were installed but the fate of these is not known. It will not only save money but also use unutilised space. A sad decision, indeed!
For the renovation of the NSA Indoor Hall and the Indoor Hall near Bal Bhavan, Rs. 75 lakh was sanctioned but hardly any work was carried out except white washing. Dwelling further on the NSA Indoor Hall, this Hall and the one near the Bal Bhavan was used exclusively for National Sports Academy. However, some high and mighty jokers come to play badminton in the NSA Indoor Hall in the evening, which they use by taking out the costly mats laid there for tae kwon do. There is always a tussle between the coaches of NSA and these master players who play for digestion of their meals; as frequent taking out and laying the mats for tae-kwon-do, damages it and its life was reduced. Why can’t these people leave the hall for the upcoming players and seek pasture elsewhere; their level of skill need only a community hall surrounded by shade nets. There were many instances where empty bottles of liquor were left behind and the keys of the change room for the girls were kept locked without the keys being handed over. It is not known why they need to use the girls change room there. Once earlier also, some high and mighty did so, but with the intervention of the then CM it was stopped.
It is an earnest plea to the CM to take some interest and ask those using the indoor hall of NSA to stop henceforth and leave it for the young talents. And also constitute a team to inspect the works carried out as narrated above to verify whether the works were executed as per the specification given in the estimates and the work orders. The works deserves to be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Cell which was established with lots of fanfare but whose work is limited to small fries and which is not referred to anywhere now-a-days. It would encourage the coaches and the players, if the CM makes a visit and inspects the works carried out along with representatives of the implementing agencies to see with his own eyes the standard of execution of the works. His reaction to this plea will be an indicator of his love and affection for the young sports talents of the state and his intent to root out corruption. Everyone in Manipur says that sports and culture are the USP of the state, but the type of work carried out belied the words of the leaders. Oh KLSC, what a pity, either you have been disowned or have been made an orphan!
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