World is getting linked with India through cricket: PM

Varanasi (UP):┬áPrime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday laid the foundation stone of an international cricket stadium in Varanasi and said that through the game, the world is “getting linked” with India.

Highlighting that the design of the stadium dedicated to Lord Mahadev has instilled a feeling of pride among the citizens of Kashi, he said the facility would witness great cricket matches while young athletes would get an opportunity to train at the international level.

Modi said recent sporting successes of India were due to a changed approach as now sports have been linked with fitness, employment and career of youths.

Compared to nine years ago, this year’s sports budget has been increased threefold, he said. ”Through cricket, the world is getting linked with India” and many new countries are playing cricket leading to a greater number of matches, he said, adding this stadium will cater to the rising demand for such facilities in the coming years.

To be built near the Ring Road in Rajatalab area here at a cost of about Rs 450 crores and spread across an area of more than 30 acres, the stadium is likely to be ready by December 2025.

The Uttar Pradesh government said it has spent Rs 121 crore to acquire the land for the stadium while the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will spend Rs 330 crore on its construction.

The spectators’ gallery of the stadium would resemble the steps of the ghats of Varanasi. This will be Uttar Pradesh’s third international cricket stadium after Kanpur and Lucknow.

Addressing the gathering, Modi said he is visiting Kashi exactly one month after India reached the Shiv Shakti point on the moon where Chandrayaan landed. ”One place of Shiv Shakti is on the moon, while the other one is here in Kashi,” he said.

He also noted the significance of the venue which is at the intersection of the route to Mata Vindhyavasini and its proximity with the village Motikot, the place from which socialist leader Raj Narain hailed. Modi underlined that the development of sports infrastructure of such scale not only has a positive effect on sports but also on the regional economy. He said such developments attract more visitors which greatly benefits sectors such as hotels, eateries, rickshaws and auto drivers as well as oarsmen in the region. The prime minister highlighted that it also has a positive effect on sports coaching and management institutions thereby paving the way for youth to venture into sports startups. He touched upon physiotherapy courses and said a new sports industry is expected to shape up in Varanasi in the coming days.

He also said there is a change in attitude towards sports among parents. ”Now the mood of the nation is – Jo Khelega wo hi Khilega (one who will play will blossom).” The prime minister also saw a change in Kashi towards sports. He said effort is to provide world-level sports facilities to the youth of Kashi. That is why, along with this stadium Rs 400 crore are being spent on Sigra stadium where facilities are being developed for more than 50 sports, he said, adding this is going to be the first multi-sports complex which will be divyang friendly. Khelo India’s budget got a hike of about 70 per cent compared to last year, he said. ”Government moves with the athletes like a team member from school to the Olympics podium,” he asserted.

The prime minister highlighted the World University Games where India won more medals in this year’s edition compared to all the medals bagged in the previous editions. He acknowledged the presence of sporting potential in every village, city nook and corner of the country and emphasized the need to find them and develop their skills. ”Youth coming from small towns and villages have become the pride of the nation today,” Modi said as he stressed creating more and more opportunities for them.

Former India cricketers Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar and Ravi Shastri, BCCI president Roger Binny, vice president Rajiv Shukla and secretary Jay Shah were present on the occasion. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also attended the function.

Acknowledging the presence of the stalwarts from the sporting fraternity on the occasion, Modi thanked them for their affection towards Kashi.

”Good coaches and good coaching are equally important to encourage and hone new talent,” he emphasised as he informed that athletes who have won national and international accolades are encouraged to take up the role of coaches. Modi said that new infrastructure will give new opportunities to the athletes from small towns and villages. He informed that under the new National Education Policy, sports is treated as a proper subject rather than an extracurricular activity. ”The expansion of sports infrastructure is essential for the development of a nation,” he emphasised.

Modi mentioned that several cities in the world are known for organizing global sporting events and stressed developing sports infrastructure in the country capable of hosting such global events. This stadium, he said, will be a witness to this resolution of development which will not merely be a structure of bricks and concrete but will also become a symbol of the future of India.