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Dutt to strive for increased budgetary outlay

By Our Sports Reporter

NEW DELHI, MAY 25. Calling for greater accountability from the national sports federations, the Sports Minister, Sunil Dutt, has promised to strive towards getting an increased budget outlay for sports. Terming the current budgetary allocation as meagre, Mr. Dutt, who took charge of the Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs on Tuesday, hoped that he would be able to convince the finance minister for a greater allocation.

"If we expect our sportspersons to win medals at the international level then we must be able to provide them with proper facilities,'' said Mr. Dutt. And, if that were to happen funds would be needed in plenty. The Sports Minister said that though the major responsibility of providing funds and facilities rested on the Government he called on the big business corporations to come forward and invest in sports.

While promising better relations between his ministry and the sports bodies, Mr. Dutt was categorical in asking the federations to be more accountable. Mr. Dutt himself was on a review committee to assess India's performance at the Sydney Olympic Games. The experience he had was not too encouraging.

"Many federations were careless in submitting the accounts for the funds allocated to them in preparation for the Games,'' Mr. Dutt said. "Though they finally did submit, such attitude on part of the federations was against the spirit,'' he added.

This being an Olympic year, Mr. Dutt said that the top priority would be to provide all possible help to those who have qualified for the Athens Olympics. So far 57 sportspersons - in archery, shooting, hockey, weightlifting, wrestling, boxing and tennis - have already booked their berths to Athens.

"I am very delighted that we will have such a big representation and I hope we do well,'' said Mr. Dutt adding that he expected medals from shooting, archery and tennis.

Asked what he perceived of India's preparation in its quest for a medal in hockey, Mr. Dutt plainly said, "I hope everything is settled for now.''

On doping, Mr. Dutt described drugs as a great temptation and said that it was a universal problem and not just confined to India. He said that the best way to prevent sportspersons from taking to drugs was through yoga.

And, going by what Mr. Dutt has been briefed by the Sports Secretary, the All India Council of Sports (AICS) headed by Vijay Kumar Malhotra, was here to stay. He, however, added, "let me assess things and go through the files, and if it (AICS) has contributed to sports in any way then there is no harm in carrying on with it.''

Rebuffing speculation that he was forced into the Sports Ministry, Mr. Dutt said, "I am here by choice and not by compulsion.'' He said he had asked for such a ministry where he could contribute wholeheartedly.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president, Suresh Kalmadi congratulated Mr. Dutt and assured him that there would be better coordination between the IOA and the Ministry.

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