DDA's apathy forces squash players to approach Delhi HC twice to use Commonwealth Games facility

Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) Siri Fort sports complex can be a case study as to why the much trumpeted ‘pay & play scheme’ failed to take off despite all the hype it generated.

On Monday, Justice AK Chawla, while hearing a writ petition filed by Gaurav Nandrajog, who has played squash at the highest level and also serves as a coach, said that the DDA has to maintain parity with the last petition.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, in his order dated 21 June, had directed DDA to allow players and their coaches in the complex as long as they pay for using the courts. In the same petition, he had asked DDA’s standing counsel Sanjeev Sabharwal to explain the why they had prohibited the players.

A general view of the squash facility at the Siri Fort Sports Complex, which was used during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Reuters

A general view of the squash facility at the Siri Fort Sports Complex, which was used during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Reuters

Sania Vats, India’s number one-ranked player in Under-17 girl’s category, Amira Singh (ranked one in U-15 girls), Anahat Singh (ranked one in U-11 girl’s category) and Mayank Sachdeva (U-15 boys) had approached the High Court during the summer vacations after they were stopped from using the services of their coach Amjad Khan. Khan incidentally played in the inaugural tournament that was held after the new facility was inaugurated just in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

On receiving the order, DDA then stopped others from even playing and said only the above four petitioners will be allowed to use the facility as per court’s order.

Rahul Vashist, who recently won the St Stephen’s sports trial, was stopped from playing on the pretext that he was coaching.

Ananya Vir, Udayveer Arora,Shaurya Verma and Jyotiraditya Mishra — through their guardians — joined Nandrajog to get a favourable response in their favour.

Veteran player and activist Rahul Kumar said DDA had no arguments to make in the court on Tuesday. “The only argument that they made was that players should use their coaches. They couldn’t specify whether they were better than Gaurav Nandrajog, who has had a glorious career,” he said.

Nandrajog, who has been Delhi’s number one squash player for over a decade now, said Tuesday's direction was first of many steps that will help the sport.

“Today’s ruling is good in the sense it is the first step to correcting many of the pending issues here. But it is also a pointer to many that administrators cannot come in the progress of kids,” Nandrajog told this correspondent.

Trouble has been brewing for few years now as DDA, through its administrators had been limiting the use of the courts, the latest being that players cannot get their coaches while using the facility.

Lip service

But what is surprising is the fact that almost all the relevant authorities have been aware of this situation for two-three years and yet none took active interest to resolve the issue.

Players and guardians had written a number of letters to then Lt governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung, whose seat in office makes him the chairman of DDA. Even the sports ministry was aware.

As director general of SAI, Injeti Srinivas, who is also the present secretary sports, had written a letter dated 28 July, 2015 to DDA vice chairman Durga Shankar Mishra, to make the courts available for the Delhi players.

Representations have also been made to sports ministers Ajay Maken and Sarbananda Sonowal in the past and yet nothing was done in solving this issue.

The lack of interest from the authorities has also meant that facility is looking at major repairs despite being sparsely used.

The glass court has already been dismantled. Few of the courts too have taken a beating for lack of proper care.

“I am thinking to return to PSA circuit next season but where is the glass court? We have to fight for everything,” Gaurav added.

Updated Date: Jul 11, 2017 15:58 PM

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