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NEW DELHI: Olympic shooting champion Abhinav Bindra’s upcoming High Performance Center in Bengaluru has hit a hurdle with the sports ministry refusing to bear the customs duty on hi-tech training equipments for the facility.
The center, which, it is claimed, will have cutting-edge equipment for an athlete’s rehabilitation, fitness training and sports science, is set for opening in the third week of December. But, the dispute over the import duty may delay things up. The heart of the matter is Bindra’s demand to the ministry for bearing Rs 1.09-crore duty. This amount is over and above the sanctioned grant of Rs 5 crore which the ministry has already allotted to the Abhinav Bindra Foundation Trust (ABFT) towards purchasing of equipment.
Bindra had been writing to the ministry for the sanction of an additional Rs 1.09 crore but hasn’t got a favourable response yet. In a fresh letter to the ministry, which has been accessed by TOI, Bindra has reiterated his demand for the import duty, informing the ministry that Rs 1.09 crore wasn’t covered under the already sanctioned amount of Rs 5 crore.
“Initially, we (ABFT) had made a proposal of Rs 6 crore, which included a duty component of Rs 1crore,” Bindra told TOI. “However, the ministry granted us Rs 5 crore with no mention of import duty.”
But, if the Ministry has rejected his demand earlier, then why has he been repeatedly asking for the extra amount? Bindra responded: “We were talking to the ministry officials about it, but then, the secretary and other staff was reshuffled.”
“It’s fine if the ministry has rejected it again. I’ll try to pay the duty from the sanctioned Rs 5 crore or I’ll raise funds to substantiate the duty component. I am not asking anything for myself, it’s for the equipment,” he added.
Ministry officials cited their own reasons behind rejecting Bindra’s demand. “Rs 5 crore is no small amount. One can easily pay the import duty. We can’t understand why he is making so much fuss. We would advise him to look at things rationally,” an official reacted.
The center, which will come up at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Prakash Padukone-Rahul Dravid Center for Sports Excellence, will be a one-stop destination for the country’s elite and budding athletes to train for the international competitions.
Bindra had opened a similar center in Mohali in October last year where athletes have access to the equipments free of cost. Each of the center is fitted with 3D cameras, motion sensors and digital screens.