Baseball ground fiasco: Mystery shrouds disbursal of Rs 2.68 cr in single phase

Ex-SAG official says release of funds above Rs 50,000 involves multi-level approval

CLINTON D’SOUZA | MAY 30, 2024, 01:00 AM IST
Baseball ground fiasco: Mystery shrouds disbursal of Rs 2.68 cr in single phase

A new controversy has erupted over the Rs 2.68 crore spent on a baseball ground at Campal in Panaji for the 37th National Games, which remains undeveloped. Questions are being raised about how such a large amount was sanctioned and disbursed without any visible progress on the ground.

According to former treasurer of the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG), Gurudutta Bhakta, the process of fund release involves multiple layers of approval. Typically, the funds are released by the finance department and then sent to the Directorate of Sports before reaching the SAG. From there, the money is given to the contractor or the intended recipient. Bhakta explained that funds for any project are usually released in phases as the work progresses. However, in this case, it is unclear why such a large amount was released in a single phase.

Bhakta further highlighted that any amount above Rs 50,000 requires the approval and signatures of the sports minister, the treasurer, and the executive director.

Now everyone has one question “how did such an amount get released in one phase without the usual phased approach?”. The lack of transparency and clarity in this case has led to widespread speculation.

Earlier reports by The Goan brought to light the curious case of the Rs 2.68 crore spent on developing a baseball ground at Campal, with no ground to show for it. This has now escalated into a major political slugfest between the current Sports Minister Govind Gaude and his predecessor Manohar (Babu) Ajgaonkar.

However, Sports Minister Govind Gaude has assured to look into the matter of money being spent on a baseball field, but the playfield is not visible at Campal.

The situation has raised serious questions about accountability and transparency within the SAG and the overall handling of funds for sports infrastructure projects. The lack of a visible baseball ground, despite the substantial amount of money spent, has prompted demands for a thorough investigation.

Given these findings, it’s clear that a detailed audit and investigation is urgently needed to understand how the funds were handled and why the usual step-by-step release of money was skipped. The fact that there’s no baseball ground despite spending such a large amount of money is worrying. This situation calls for closer inspection and accountability in how sports funds are managed to ensure public money is spent properly.

Ground exists, repurposed for other disciplines during Nat Games: Gaude 

PANAJI: Sports Minister Govind Gaude has stated that the ground, originally intended for baseball, was repurposed for other sports after baseball was dropped from the 37th National Games.

“First of all, the ground already existed. The baseball discipline was included in the 36th National Games scheduled in Goa, which led to work being undertaken by SAG. However, the Games were then shifted to Gujarat. During the 37th National Games, baseball was dropped due to a federation issue at the national level. Despite this, the ground was used for seven other disciplines and is now known as ‘Campal Village Sports City,” he said, denying the works were not carried out during his tenure.

He added that Dugouts were installed in 2021 and later moved to Cujira, while the tank remains at the site. Moreover, the ground was used for an Ayurveda expo recently, along with other major events.

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