Chandigarh, September 14:

Punjab Sports & Youth Services and NRI Affairs Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi today announced that the Lifetime Achievement Awardees will automatically be eligible for the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award, the coveted awards of the state of Punjab. The Minister announced this development, while honouring the winners of Arjuna, Dhyan Chand and Tenzing Norgay Awards here at his official residence.

Rana Sodhi, while applauding the winners of this year’s coveted awards, said that their spectacular achievements in the sports arena will inspire youngsters, especially budding players of the state. The Minister was accompanied by Additional Chief Secretary NRI Affairs Mr. Kirpa Shankar Saroj and Director Sports Mr. D.P.S. Kharbanda.

The Sports Minister said that in the sports policy-2018 formulated under the leadership of Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, the winners of Arjuna Award and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award were already entitled to receive Maharaja Ranjit Singh Awards and 101 sports persons were honoured with the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award in the year 2019 under this policy. The policy will now onwards cover all National Sports Award winners including Dhyan Chand and Dronacharya Awards. He said that the Lifetime Achievement Awards winners (Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand Awardees) would automatically be considered as eligible for Maharaja Ranjit Singh Awards. He said that requisite changes in this regard would be made in the sports policy soon. The Minister asked Director Sports to ensure that necessary amendments were made in the sports policy at the earliest. Rana Sodhi also strictly directed all the district sports officers that they should fill up the forms of the players belonging to their respective districts, who were eligible for the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Awards and send their applications to the headquarters so that no eligible player could be left behind.

The Sports Minister further announced that there will be no annual income limit on the pension given to veteran players. “Whatever the annual income of the veteran player, he will continue to be entitled to a pension”, he added.

Assuring players all kinds of support from state government for the upcoming sports events, the Minister said that the state of Punjab is on fast track in the field of sports as the government has notified a comprehensive sports policy to encourage sports through larger participation; focused on high potential games to win medals; structural changes in curriculum to involve children and youth; increased and graded financial assistance to medal winners and to provide job opportunities to deserving sportspersons in government and outside.

The Sports Minister said that a significant decision was also taken to create more employment opportunities for the sportspersons in the cabinet meeting held in the month of July. Now, Gold, Silver and Bronze medalists in national games/senior national championships/recognised International Tournaments would be eligible for recruitment for Class I and II posts. He said, the state government has also in-principle decided to create separate quota for sportsperson in government jobs, adding that the government was committed to continuing with 3 percent reservation in all jobs of state Government, its boards, corporations, cooperative/statutory bodies and local authorities for graded sportspersons, who are residents of Punjab and have represented the state at national level.

Punjab hockey player Akashdeep Singh was bestowed with the prestigious Arjuna Award this year, while Kuldeep Singh Bhullar (Athletics), Ajit Singh (Hockey), Manpreet Singh (Kabaddi), Manjit Singh (Rowing), Sukhwinder Singh (Football) and Lakha Singh (Boxing) were given Major Dhyan Chand Award. Similarly, Colonel Sarfaraz Singh has been conferred the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award. Rana sodhi exhorted all the players to further accomplish their set goals and bring laurel to the state.

While the players shared their experiences of the sports arena, they and their relatives expressed gratitude towards Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi. The Sports Minister also assured the players that their demands would be resolved soon.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Rana Sodhi announced that Lakha Singh, a prominent boxer living a miserable life, would be given the job of coach in the sports department, instructing Director Sports to take immediate action in this regard. He said that a job of a boxing coach would be given this month to boxer Lakha Singh, an Asian Games medalist and an Olympian boxer, who was earning livelihood by driving a taxi these days.

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