From Commonwealth Games to hockey, M.S. Gill sets his priorities


New Delhi : For Sports Minister M.S. Gill, Thursday was not his first day in office but a continuation after a brief vacation. From the Commonwealth Games to forming an unified hockey body, Gill will have a busy time ahead as he took charge for his second stint in office.

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This time Gill has more powers as a cabinet minister in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s new team.

Gill is well aware of the challenges that lie ahead and knows that there isn’t much time on hand. The venues of the Commonwealth Games, to be held here Oct 3-14, 2010 are yet to be finished. Adding to this, hockey’s world body FIH has already asked India to quickly form a democratic body to run the sport, failing to which India may lose the 2010 men’s World Cup scheduled in March.

The sports minister said finishing the construction work of the seven venues for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and forming Hockey India, a unified body for both men and women players, will top his priorities.

“The construction cost for the Commonwealth Games has gone up to Rs. 24.6 billion from from Rs.10 billion. The money has been sanctioned by the cabinet and is scheduled to be released in batches. I can assure you that all the venues, except the cycling velodrome and the Karni Singh Shooting Range will be completed by December. These two stadiums will be ready by February,” Gill said.

The former chief election commissioner also said the Commonwealth Games Co-ordination Committee is doing its best to meet the infrastructure deadline.

“We have been hammering out things irrespective of each other’s presence. The chief minister of Delhi Sheila Dixit has full faith in me. We know that if anything goes wrong everyone will be blamed,” said Gill.

Gill also assured that the hockey ad-hoc committee, which was set-up by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to run the game, will soon be replaced by Hockey India.

“I had a meeting with FIH president Leandro Negre, when he came to India earlier this month. We had long discussions with Negre and IOA president Suresh (Kalmadi). The FIH was impressed with the construction work at the National Stadium (World Cup venue). We are confident of hosting the World Cup,” he said.