In a letter to railway minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday, the MP stated that the move of the Railway Board in the letter dated May 18, 2021, with regard to the sports complexes is anti-people and anti-national. “It includes the Integral Coach Factory ground in Chennai,” he said.
Venkatesan said that Indian Railways is the single largest sports entity having 50% international players and one third of medal winners. “Most of them are from the backward and weaker sections of the society who sprung up in sports and brought laurels to India due to accessibility of sports facilities and infrastructure in Indian Railways to common employees,” he said.
The MP pointed out that M S Dhoni and P T Usha were drawn from the ticket checking category. He noted that 13 of the 21 Olympic medals India won are by sportspersons in the railways. Railways also produced Arjun awardees like Sushil Kumar (wrestling), Baskaran (hockey), S Baskaran (bodybuilding), Vellasamy (weightlifting), Rajarathnam (kabaddi), Jaganathan (table tennis) and Tamil Selvan (bodybuilding).
“All these have been possible because of free accessibility of large sports infrastructure to common men and women employees in the railways, which is otherwise not available them. Amidst the pandemic, two days ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed preparedness of our athletes who are preparing for the Tokyo Olympics. The move of the railways is contrary to the importance given by the PM for sports development,” he told TOI.
He said 15 stadiums were mentioned in the Railway Board letter.