Kiren Rijju says if needed, there is a provision to revise budget allocation for sports

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said he is open to asking for more funds from the government if needed in an Olympic year, insisting that the budget allocated to his ministry for 2021-22 is satisfactory despite the cut.

Rijiju said all requirements of athletes heading into Tokyo Olympics are being met.

The central government on Monday allocated Rs 2596.14 crore for sports — a reduction of Rs 230.78 crore when compared to the amount earmarked initially for the previous year, that was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic across the world.

“…if needed, there is a provision for asking for revised allocation. We can ask for it,” Rijiju said on the sidelines of the launch of Fit India office at the Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium here.

In the last financial year, the government had allocated Rs 2826.92 crore for sports, which was later revised to Rs 1800.15 crore because of the lack of activity caused by the pandemic.

This year’s allocated amount is Rs 795.99 crore more than the revised budget of 2020-21.

Rijiju said the sports ministry is there to take care and support athletes and National Sports Federations.

“We give money to the players through federations. We are there to look after the requirement of athletes and demands of NSFs The funding is for athletes, not NSFs. There is and will be no shortage of funds for players for their training. As and when they require, it will be provided.

“The NSFs place their demands through Annual Competition and Training Calendar (ACTC) mechanism. The sports ministry is not facing any financial crunch…

“On top of that sports being a state subject, we play a role of gap funding. We provide support to state governments. We just come as a supplementary to their need,” he added.

The sports ministry bears the cost of all foreign training and competition, including participation in the Olympics.

The government’s flagship Khelo India programme was handed the biggest reduction — of Rs 232.71 crore — among all sports heads for the 2021-22 budget, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday.

During Wednesday’s event, Sports Secretary Ravi Mittal said, “If you look at the budget of 2021-22 as against 2019-2020, there is an increase of 19.13 per cent….we should compare it with previous year. We are not considering the initial budget of 2020-21 because it was an unprecedented year hit by COVID.”

“If you see the RE (Revised Estimate) figures compared to this year, then we have an increase of nearly 40 per cent. If you see the budget of our flagship Khelo India and Fit India is a apart of it, the budget of this year is 72 per cent more compared to 2019-2020.

“The contributions towards NSFs has also increased, the budget for Sports Authority of India has also increased. What has reduced slightly is the budget for infrastructure development because this year there was no sports competition,” Mittal said.