Lahore:16 September: Although the Punjab government has allocated huge funds of Rs2.5 billion for the ongoing Youth Festival, the scale of arrangements made for the mega event do not reflect at all in practical terms.
All but only a tape-ball cricket event could be seen in progress after taking round of several venues in vain. The youths were not even provided proper kits. The venue was riddled with big banners promoting only the image of the Punjab chief minister,
PML-N MPAs and union councils’ leaders.
Huge spending is being done for the festival in advertisements in print and electronic media, but the sports activities are cash-starved and too limited.
Every day, the Sports Board Punjab (SBP) issues a small press release with a claim that thousands of players have taken part in a number of events. The small press release is itself a prove that nothing considerable is being held on the grounds.
It seems the fate of the Youth Festival will be no different from a scheme like ‘Sasti Roti’.
The season to organize the festival has been planned without considering the fact that playing grounds will be infested with dengue mosquitoes, particularly in Lahore.
Into the bargain, a good number of city grounds have been occupied by contractors working on the under-construction Bus Rapid Transit Project. The DCO has even written a letter to the chief minister expressing his inability to organize any sports activity as the city district government wants to focus all its attention on fighting dengue.
Interestingly, regular SBP employees are not dealing with the financial affairs of the festival and they are just doing a paperwork which raises doubts about the transparency.
Only five months back, the Punjab government had wasted Rs2 billion on similar sports activity. Some contractors are still visiting SBP offices to get their cheques which have been stopped for different reasons. Several contractors have submitted their complaints to the chief minister, but to no avail.
Had the Punjab government spent this huge money of Rs4.5 billion on improving sports infrastructure at the district level, it would have been more beneficial for the youth.Dawn.