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Times of India
11 August 2010
By Rachit Anand
New Delhi, india

WAKE-UP CALL: The athletes claimed there were irregularities in preparation for paralympic events WAKE-UP CALL: The athletes claimed there were irregularities in preparation for paralympic events
Minister of sports and youth affairs M S Gill was not allowed to enter his residence by hundreds of differently–abled activists and athletes who demonstrated outside his house for hours on Tuesday morning.

They accused the ministry of neglecting the needs of differentlyabled athletes and "gross" mismanagement of the Commonwealth Games’ paralympic events, which will be held alongside the Games this October. They also questioned the "mismanagement" of Rs 13 crore that had been allocated for preparation of the paralympic events.

Differently–abled athletes from various sports allege that their coaches are either not disabled themselves or they do not know anything about the sport for which they are providing coaching. Suvarna Raj, a probable for women’s wheelchair table tennis competition, said, "The coach who has been appointed for us is not disabled himself. So, how can he understand the needs of disabled athletes? I had to hire a coach for myself in Delhi. No athlete wants to go for the camp that has been set up by them in Ahmedabad. We expect something better from the ministry."

"ONGC is funding me for appointing of a coach which costs Rs 20,000 a month. It’s a shame that the ministry is not doing anything," she added. She was present at the demonstration and when she approached Gill on a wheelchair to have a word with him, he simply left.

Javed Abidi, convener, Disabled Rights Group, questioned how Rs 13 crore budgeted for the paralympic events was allocated. "In an RTI, it was revealed that Rs 5 crore have been used, but what about the rest of the amount? How have the Rs 5 crore been employed?"

"The coaches and ministers are simply pocketing all the money. The wives of team managers go to international events as escorts for the disabled players but abandon them once they reach there," he added. "As Gill is the captain of the ship, he is answerable to the people. After all, it is the citizen’s money that is going down the drain."

Disabled Athletes Take Protest To Minister’s Home
"More than two thousand international disabled athletes will be coming to the city in less than two months. But the facilities are a far cry from being disabled–friendly. I cannot go from one street to another in a wheel–chair in this city," Adibi added.

While some athletes who supported the cause were present at the ‘dharna’, others could not miss their practice. Prasanta Karmakar, who ranks second in Asia and eighteenth in the world in disabled swimming, said, "I practice on my own expenses as the government camps are not good enough. Even the special swimming costumes which cost approximately Rs 12,000 have not been provided by the ministry. They provide me a scholarship of a meagre Rs 4000, while my monthly expenses for practising are more than Rs 60,000."

Javed Adibi asks that if the ministry can’t even provide the right swimming costumes, then where are the Rs 13 crore being spent. He also said India would not be participating in two paralympic events — wheelchair races —in the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Delhi. The reason given is a dearth of proper wheel chairs. "It is disgraceful that they can’t buy the wheelchairs, which cost less then a lakh, ‘’ he said.

Joginder Singh, who is a probable for Paralympic powerlifting for the games, said, "Our diet is not taken care of. We have to take proper supplements for powerlifting but I have to buy supplements myself and have to mostly depend on inferior quality supplements. What will we do with all these stadiums if we don’t have any athletes?”

Disabled Athletes Take Protest To Minister’s Home ‘I have spent my own money to hire a new coach. At least, the
‘ministry can give some some funds that we can spend on our training Suvarna Raj | ATHLETE

Disabled Athletes Take Protest To Minister’s Home ‘I buy supplements using my own money. I wish Dr Gill
‘wakes up to our needs. Or we will fail to win even one medal in the Games Joginder Singh | ATHLETE

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