New Delhi: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Sunday urged Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to treat sports as a priority area while formulating the budget for 2012-13 beginning April 1.
"The world over, countries are spending huge amounts of money to boost and develop sports and its infrastructure. In India, it has yet not been given the importance it deserves. The funds allotted for sports in the budget are always very small and do no justice to the mammoth sports fraternity spanning all over the country," IOA acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra wrote in a letter to Mukherjee.
"I will also request you to put sports in a priority category so that in future sports federations are not starved of the funds for training, competitions and sending teams abroad."
Malhotra acknowledged government's help in preparing the athletes for the Olympics but said it needed to adopt a long-term approach.
"While IOA appreciates government's financial support for the Olympic Games, I will like it to become broad-based keeping in view other multi-discipline international events like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships."
The government has raised the Member Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund to Rs.5 crore each and the members are allowed to spend at least Rs.1 crore from the fund on holding international/national/local and club level sports competitions in their areas besides building sports infrastructure in their respective constituencies.
IOA also wants the rural development ministry to spend on the promotion of sports.
"It is also requested that minimum of 10 percent of the budget allocation for the rural development ministry be earmarked for promotion of sports at the grass root level through panchayats and local area bodies," Mahotra said in the letter.
He hoped the government would increase to sports budget to Rs. 4,000 crores for the next financial year.
"Given the size of the country and burgeoning youth population interested in sports, I request you to please allocate at least Rs. 4,000 crores for sports."