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Sports was neglected by Left Front government: Mamata

Kolkata: Taking a dig at the erstwhile Left Front government in West Bengal for "creating debt burden" for the state, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said the Sports Department was "neglected" with inadequate budgetary provisions.
"We are repaying Rs 48,000 crore for the loan that was taken by the earlier government and inherited by us. They had borrowed maximum amount in 2006-07 including private loans. We have to repay this loan after the maturity of the 10-year term loan.
"In 2011, we had repaid Rs 25,000 crore, Rs 28,000 crore in 2012-13 and Rs 30,000 crore in 2013-14. The repayment amount was Rs 30,000-35,000 crore in 2014-15. The quantum of repayment was Rs 45,000 crore in 2016-17 and subsequently Rs 48,000 crore in 2017-18," she said at an event organised by the Sports and Youth Affairs Department.
She claimed the department had a budget of Rs 74 crore until her party Trinamool Congress came to power.
"The same has now been increased by about six times to Rs 477 crore. I do not know why it was neglected," she said.
Banerjee also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre of slowing down the country's economy by undertaking demonetisation and implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) without proper preparedness.
"Along with debt burden, these were big blows," she said, adding that no goals were realised and two per cent of the GDP was lost.
She said her government had spent Rs 600 crore to fund local clubs for improving sports infrastructure in their locality.
"We have given Rs two lakh in the first tranche to each club and Rs one lakh per year for the period of next three years. So, Rs five lakh was given to each club to improve their infrastructure for promotion of sports. Our government has already spent Rs 600 crore for this purpose," she said.
Elaborating on the state's sports infrastructure, she said the state was able to organise the quarter final, semi-final and finals of the U-17 World Cup.
"FIFA recognised Yuva Bharati Krirangan as one of the best arenas in the world. We have requested them to organise the U-19 World Cup here (in India). If they assign us A to Z, we will be able to do that. Mentally, we are ready to host the event," she said.
Banerjee also mulled over a provision in the existing state sports policy to nurture talent across the various disciplines of sports and asked officials to offer the Swasthya Sathi scheme, a health insurance cover, to retired and veteran sports personalities.
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