Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said that the State Government would be presenting the memorandum prepared by Citizen Forum Annandale to the Government of India with the request to return the historic ground to the State to be developed as multipurpose sports stadium in the State capital. He was addressing a rally of sports organizations from different parts of the State extending support for getting the Annandale ground returned to the State, here today.

Chief Minister said that the matter was in the knowledge of the top brass in the Government of India, as the same had been reiterated time and again through different modes of communication besides meeting them in person. He requested the Members of Parliament from the State to meet the Prime Minister and Defence Minister to hand over the ground to the State Government, which was State property and its lease expired thirty years ago. He said that during NDA regime at the Centre, the matter had been raised with the then Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister and agreed in principle to return the ground to the State which could not materialize due to the change in government at the Centre. He said the State was according high priority to creation of quality sports infrastructure so that the State was benefited with sport tourism activities. He said that with the return of the ground, the State, in association with the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, would develop it into a multipurpose sports complex so that different sports events could be organized.

Prof. Dhumal said that the State Government had decided to give a cash prize of Rs. 1.00 crore to any Himachali winning Gold Medal for the country in any of the sports event during the coming Olympics, Rs. 50 lakh for winning Silver Medal and Rs. 25 lakh for winning Bronze Medal. He said that it was an endeavour to motivate youth to channelise their energy towards sports. He said that additionally three percent reservation was also being provided to sportspersons in government jobs. He said that with the development of Annandale ground as multipurpose sports stadium a new chapter would be added to quality sports infrastructural facilities in the State and attract sports lovers from different parts of the world to enjoy sports events in the pollution free, clean and serene environment of the State.

He said that the Cricket Stadium at Dharamshala had gained popularity amongst the cricket lover the world over for its beautiful location and climatic conditions. Prof. Dhumal put his signature on the memorandum of the Citizen’s Forum to be presented to the Government of India with signatures of 1.08 lakh citizens of the State supporting move of the Forum to get Annandale back. He lauded the signature and other awakening campaigns launched from time to time by the Forum to draw attention of the society towards necessity of Annandale to be developed for the sports promotion activities of the youth in the State.

Anurag Thakur, MP Lok Sabha, President, HP Cricket Association, said that he had raised the issue of return of Annandale ground to the State in the Parliament and also met Defence Minister to reiterate the demand of the youth of Himachal Pradesh. He said that the HP Cricket Association would be extending all help to the State Government in development of the ground into a multipurpose sports stadium. He said that International standard best located cricket stadium developed at a cost of Rs. 60 crore, Atal Behari Vajpayee Cricket Stadium had been developed at Amtar near Nadaun and others at Una and Bilaspur. He thanked the State Government for providing land for development of the Stadiums and said that similar stadiums would be constructed at all districts. He said that the Cricket Academy at Lalpani, Shimla, would also be dedicated to the cricket lovers by middle of the year.

Suresh Bhardwaj, MLA, welcomed the Chief Minister, and detailed historical background of Annandale Ground. He said that with the return of the ground to the State more sports activities would be possible in Shimla, where youth did not have sufficient space for sports activities. He thanked Anurag Thakur, for raising the issue in the Parliament. Virender Kashyap, MP Lok Sabha, Rakesh Pathania, MLA, Ganesh Datt, Vice Chairman, HIMUDA and representatives of different sports organizations were present on the occasion.

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