Peshawar: It was a grand plan to revive sports in a province where suicide bombings have emptied the stadiums of players and spectators in recent years. And from a person who personifies the spirit of sports for the average Pakistani, no less.

It all seemed possible, too, because the man who promised to build 47 sports playground in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is Imran Khan, leader of Pakistan Tehrik-e-insaf, the party in power in KP.

When Imran Khan’s PTI came to power in 2014, its government in KP said it would establish 47 playgrounds in 25 districts of province. The number was later increased to 63. Party chief Imran Khan also directed the KP government to accelerate work on construction of these grounds with the aim to complete at least 33 across the province by December 31, 2015.

However, only 5 playgrounds have been completed so far. Authorities in KP say that financial constraints have kept them from realizing the goal.

“The KP government has allocated Rs1.5 million per ground but due to lack of coordination between KP Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs and Construction and Works Department the construction work is very slow,” said an official of KP Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs, wishing not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to media.

He said in a meeting held in December in the house of KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, PTI chief Imran Khan asked for progress report on the playgrounds. The KP Director Sports who was present in the meeting showed plans for different grounds under construction in the province.

“Imran Khan criticized the plan for the grounds and told the official that he had designed stadiums instead of playgrounds,” said the official. “He said that the grounds could not be completed with the money the provincial government had at its disposal and the officials should re-design the grounds.”

According to documents made available by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs, the provincial government has approved 47 playgrounds and made an allocation of Rs 705 million for the purpose. However the number of playgrounds was increased to 62 across the province to which an amount of Rs225million would be allocated in the coming budget.

The documents reveal that construction of each ground will cost Rs1.5million – with 33 playgrounds under construction at the moment. Of the sites selected for the playground, 13 have been declared disputed for which the provincial government has submitted a petition to Peshawar High Court for resolution. Contract for building one playground was canceled thrice and the KP Communication and Works Department has yet to find a contactor to build it.

However Niamat ullah Khan, Director Development at KP Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs, seemed optimistic when he told News Lens that the department would be able to establish 33 playgrounds very soon “on emergency basis.”

“In 2015, Rs200 million were released by the KP Sports Department to Construction and Works Department while the remaining amount will released in 2016,” said Khan. “An additional Rs225million will be allocated to the project in the annual development budget 2016-17.”

According to the plan, five playgrounds will be constructed in D I Khan in Kulachi, Paharpur, Prova, Darban and D I Khan city, three in Karak district in Banda Daud Shah, Takhat Nusrati and Karak City, three in Lower Dir District at Samar Bagh, Lal Qila and Blambat, two in Chitral district at Mastuj and Chitral City, two in Hangu district areas of Tall and Hangu city, three in Charssadda district in Tangi, Shabqadar and Charsadda, one each in Tank and Shangla districts, six in Swat district of Babuzai, Barikot, Khwaza Khela, Matta, Kabal and Charbagh, two in Kohat district in Babri Banda and Lachi and two in Haripur district at Ghazi and Haripur city.

Moreover, three playgrounds will be established in Upper Dir, three in Swabi, two in Batagram, three in Mardan, four in Bunner, two in Kohistan, two in Abbattabad, three in Nowshera, two in Bannu, two in Lakki Marwat, one in Mansehra, two in Malakand and three in Peshawar district.

Khan said in places where work on the 33 playground was in progress, the KP Directorate General of Sports and KP Elementary and Secondary Education had signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) to acquire land and develop playgrounds in schools and colleges.

“Around 20 playgrounds would be constructed in schools and colleges across the province while the rest would be built on land purchased from private owners,” Khan told News Lens.

He said that Construction and Work Department had assured them that 10 playgrounds would be complete by December 31 but it hasn’t been done for different reasons. “The department has promised that they will hand over 10 complete playgrounds to the directorate of sports soon.”


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