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Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat Lash Out at Haryana Govt for Reducing Cash Reward of Medal Winners

Athletes have come vocally against the Haryana government's new policy, which the likes of Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat allege will deter sport in India.

News18 Sports

Updated:June 26, 2019, 11:22 AM IST
Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat Lash Out at Haryana Govt for Reducing Cash Reward of Medal Winners
Athletes have come vocally against the Haryana government's new policy, which the likes of Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat allege will deter sport in India.

New Delhi: Bajrang Punia once again came down heavily on the Haryana government's policy of taking a cut from cash rewards athletes get for winning medals for India.

A new policy of the Haryana government states, "In case a sportsperson wins more than one medal during a financial year, he/she will receive full award money for the highest medal and 50 per cent of the award money for the second and subsequent medals."

The move entails that someone like Punia, who won gold medals at both 2018 CWG and Asian Games as per the new policy, only the full amount of the higher category will be given.

"When a sportsperson wins a medal for the country, it is a victory for the country. It is not a day's hard work, but with the penance of a lifetime. By taking a cut from their cash rewards, don't hurt their mindset and self-esteem. I request the government to reconsider this decision," Punia tweeted.

"We got Rs 2.25 crore instead of Rs 3 crore in our bank account. Firstly, the state government cancelled the awards function for the medalists and now this step has been implemented. I spoke to other wrestlers and they told me that this step has been taken as per new sports policy, where we will be given half the prize money of CWG and today's deduction was from the CWG prize money. As a player, I can only say that, yeh sarkar players ke sath sautela vyavahar kar rahi hai, (As a player, I can say that this government are giving the players a step-motherly treatment). Haryana is known for winning the highest number of medals for the country and the state government is treating the athletes like a burden on them," Punia told The Indian Express.

Not only Punia, but Vinesh Phogat, too, lashed out at the government for the policy. She shared Punia's tweet asking Anil Vij and CM Manohar Lal Khattar, "how many athletes are actually happy with this policy."

"As a player, we prepare the same for every event and it takes the same effort to win medal whether it be Olympics, World Championship or Asian Games or Commonwealth Games. How can the Haryana government term an event higher or lower and give the players reduced prize money for the second event in the same year. When we contacted the sports department officials today, we were told that the Rs 75 lakh deduction from the Rs 3 crore prize money of Asian Games is for the deduction for the prize money of Rs 1.5 crore given in CWG as we have now won Asian games medal. Is it a crime to win medals in two events? Also as per the sports policy, the cash prize for youth/cadet category have also been stopped. They have also not informed or given us any jobs for winning medals in CWG/Asian Games," Vinesh was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

Only last week, the Haryana government had scrapped their state-level function to award sportspersons and decided to transfer the cash prize directly into their accounts. The function, scheduled to be held in Panchkula, was planned to give away cash prizes worth Rs 90 crore to about 3,000 sportspersons who have won medals in national and international competitions.

"Nearly 3,000 players were to be honoured and it was not possible to do so in a day," Sports Minister Anil Vij had explained. "Therefore, we felt rather than postponing the event, it was more appropriate to deposit money into their bank accounts."

The controversial policy comes on the back of another that sought to cut down on athletes' cash reward as the Haryana government had announced that they would give a total sum of money to athletes for winning medals - with Rs 1.5 crore for gold, Rs 75 lakh for silver and Rs 50 lakh for bronze.

The decision was to reward medal winners from the state for their performances in the 2019 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast by deducting the cash rewards that the athletes get from other sources, including central government organizations such as Indian Railways and Indian Army. In fact, 13 of the 22 medal-winners from Haryana fall in this category.

Meaning, athletes who work for or represent other institutions, vis-a-vis, if an athlete works for Railways and receives Rs 50 lakh as a reward for winning a gold medal, the Haryana government would reduce their own reward to the same amount such that the athlete, in effect, would get the total of Rs 1.5 crore.

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