‘Government apathy, encroachment reduces Pampore Stadium to one-third of area’

‘Government apathy, encroachment reduces Pampore Stadium to one-third of area’

PAMPORE: The sportspersons from South Kashmir’s Pampore town and adjoining areas have alleged that authorities’ apathy over the years has resulted in deterioration of Iqbal Stadium.
The stadium-whose foundation stone was laid by then Sports minister RS Chib in 2012- has been used for non-sporting purposes which has worsened its condition.
The locals alleged that government failed to live upto its promise, not making any serious efforts to develop the stadium.
Consequently, they said, the stadium has been squeezed to one third of its land area.
“Years went on and the land allocated for the stadium was used for other purposes but no work was executed for the development of the stadium,” said Shabir Ahmad a local adding that the land of the stadium was developed into a complex on the front and on other two sides a court complex and a bus stand were carved out of it.
He said as per revenue records the stadium has 65 kannals of land but it has shrunk to merely 20 kanals.
The locals further said government apathy wasn’t the only reason for the mess but certain vested interests in nexus with local administration have also started encroaching the land.
“The stadium has already lost major chunk of land and a recently developed colony in the vicinity of the stadium have been making efforts to squeeze it again,” said Wajahat Hussain, a footballer, adding that the residents of the colony have to take a bit longer road and now eyeing to carve out a road through the stadium.
He, however, said that the youth would not allow any more encroachment of the stadium.
The residents also said that the shopping complex that was raised by the municipal committee Pampore that stole the sheen of the stadium.
“Earlier many tourists and onlookers from vehicles and had a view of sports activities that took place in the stadium,” said Wajahat.
District Youth Welfare and Sports officer Pulwama, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah while accepting that the land area has been shrunk said that his department could do nothing as the land was allotted to other purposes without his approval.
Minister of State for Forest, Ecology & Environment, Animal & Sheep Husbandry, Cooperative and Fisheries Zahoor Ahmad Mir said that he would make sure the stadium is constructed as per the wishes of the local people.
He also directed the Tehsildar Pampore to act strictly against those who were trying to encroach the land.