Bhaichung Stadium inaugurated; Sports’ potential to promote unity celebrated


BIKASH CHETTRI

Namchi, 31 Oct:

Bhaichung Stadium, a project besieged by construction delays and hiccups even on its final leg, was finally inaugurated here today amidst a galaxy of VIPs, sports enthusiasts and much color. The honour to inaugurate the stadium went to Governor Ganga Prasad who was present as chief guest accompanied by Chief Minister PS Tamang as guest of honour.

Bhaichung Bhutia, to celebrate whose legendary status as a footballer, Alley Ground was renamed “Bhaichung Stadium,” was also mentioned fondly in speeches today. Mr Bhutia attended the ceremony accompanied by his sister.

Mr Bhutia, who entered politics after ending his career as a footballer, and whose Hamro Sikkim Party sit in the Opposition at present, has not enjoyed the most congenial relationship with Sikkim KrantikariMorcha and its government in Sikkim and there was much speculation about whether or not he would be invited for the inauguration; and whether he would attend even if invited.

But he was there today

“The inauguration coincides with RashtriyaEktaDiwas 2021 and this underlines the fact that sports can be used as a tool for unity," the Chief Minister said in his speech today.

He added that the stadium was finished in 2021 at the cost of Rs 62 crore against its original projection of Rs 1 crore in 2009-10 when work on it had begun. Delays during the intervening years not only escalated the project cost but also robbed sportspersons of an entire decade of access to a training and practise facility.

While congratulating Bhaichung Bhutiaand the people of Sikkim, the Chief Minister regretted that politics had caused a 10-year delay in the project.

Addressingthe gathering,the Governor expressed jubilation over the historicevent and shared his confidence that the stradium will play a major role in grooming sporting talent in Sikkim.

Bhaichung Stadium is a FIFA-certifiedturfand will be under the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs, South District.

During the course of the program, the Governor and Chief Minister felicitated veterans of the 1971 Indo-Pak war and next of kin of soldiers martyred in the line of duty. The veterans and martyrs remembered today include Rifleman BirBahadurRai of 5/11 GR, HavildarLaxmi Prasad Nepal, Artillery, Havildar Mani Das Rai, Artillery, Rifleman BishalGurung, 3/1 GR, and Rifleman Karma Tenzing Sherpa 2/5 GR.

Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) vehicles were also handed over to Sikkim Police today. ERSS vehicles can be alerted by dialling 112.