New Delhi: The Asian Track Cycling Championship that is scheduled to start in 10 days at the at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium has been thrown into jeopardy after the wooden velodrome has been damaged due to leakage in the roof after heavy downpour lashed national capital on Thursday.
Such was the situation that national team members, camping at the venue, were forced to skip training and were seen trying to cover the track with huge sheets of plastic.
A large part of the 400m wooden track near a bend has been affected as rainwater leaked through acrylic sheets on the rooftop of the stadium during the afternoon much to the horror of the cyclists and officials present at the veledrome.
The rain water which poured down was so much that the Indian cyclists and officials had to use buckets to remove the water from the plastic sheets. They continued the job till late in the evening before it was stopped with the stadium officials wanted to avoid undue media attention.
The 37th Asian Track Cycling Championships will be held at the IGI Stadium from 6-10 February with around 700 cyclists from 21 countries set to take part in it.
This velodrome was constructed during the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games and the government had spent more than Rs 200 crore on this facility. This velodrome is a prestigious venue as it has been made a World Cycling Satellite Training Centre last year, and it is considered one of the best in Asia.
Cycling officials said that the embarrassing situation, which may jeopardise the Asian Championships, was due to official apathy as a similar situation of rain water leakage from the stadium rooftop had arisen during the Track Asian Cup at the same velodrome in Novemeber last year.
The government officials have assured that the repair work will be done but they have not kept their promise.
Cycling Federation of India (CFI) Secretary Onkar Singh said he has informed the SAI officials to immediately address the matter and repair the track and the roof so that the Asian Track Championships is held as scheduled.
“I have informed the SAI officials about the situation at the velodrome which had resulted from the leakage of rainwater from the rooftop. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that the SAI and Central Public Works Department (CPWD) immediately fix the problem so that the Asian Championships is held on time. Otherwise, it will be a huge embarrassment for the country,” Singh told.
The participating athletes for the Asian Championships will start arriving in New Delhi from 31 January.
SAI official and stadium administrator Manjushree Roy, however, had a different story to tell as she said that the situation was not a serious one and it will be fixed quickly. She said there were repair work going on and the unexpected rain had caused the rainwater to leak into the velodrome.
“It is not true that there has been a damage. Every infrastructure goes through wear and tear. We were in the process of repairing the rooftop and it is under repair right now. If the repair work is going on and if water had leaked into (the venue) that is not unusual.
“The joints (at the sheets at the roof) must be opened (due to repair work) and things like that, and there was unexpected rain and so water came in. I don’t think it needs media attention,” she said when asked about the rain water leakage at the cycling tracks at the velodrome.
Roy assured that the situation is under control. “There should not be any issue on the Asian Championships, it should go ahead as scheduled. The velodrome has been refurbished and it has been maintained very well. We had a few issues of water leakage here and there and the CPWD is doing repair work right now. It is not that water will leak during the Championships and CPWD has been given special approval to do the repairing.
“This roof was built by an international organisation for the 2010 CWG and all facilities go through wear and tear and this has also gone through wear and tear. There were some issues in November last (year) and we wanted CPWD to rectify it. The top management of CPWD is monitoring the repair work and they will finish the job very soon.
“Of course, CPWD will have to pick up their pace to finish their job well ahead of the Championships.”
CFI officials, however, said that they have pointed out the water leakage problem long time back and the government officials have promised to fix it.
“Water has started leaking from the rooftop at this velodrome from 2010 itself and we have even asked the government that we will collect funds from whatever sources we have and fix it ourselves. But the government said they will do it but have never done it for so long. I was told the CPWD has been lethargic in repairing the rooftop and we can’t do anything as it (stadium) is their property,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
“This velodrome is one of the best in Asia as this kind of facility is there only at other six or seven centers in Asia and the government had spent more than Rs 200 crore in making it a World Cycling Satellite Training Center under the world body UCI. It will be a huge embarrassment for the country if the world knows what is happening here due to government apathy,” the official said. (PTI)