Kolkata: Reeling under an acute funds crunch, the West Bengal government on Saturday spent a fortune in felicitating sport persons and giving donations to local clubs across the state.
The government expended a whopping amount of Rs 65 crore, more than half of the annual budget of the sports department of Rs 113 crore, in felicitating 64 sport persons and giving donations to 5300 clubs.
"We are the first state to award so many sports persons from several disciplines. By this, we want to encourage them to give their best and take West Bengal to the No. 1 position in the sports world," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told at a function here.
The Chief Minister felicitated 64 sports persons including former India captain Sourav Ganguly and tennis ace Leander Paes, both of whom were conferred Lifetime Achievement Awards of Rs five lakh each, while financial assistance was given to 5300 clubs of Rs two lakh and Rs one lakh each.
The state government for the first time constituted awards in three more categories -- 'Krira Guru', 'Banglar Gourav', and 'Khel Samman'.
Hockey Olympian Vece Paes, football coach Subhas Bhowmik among 11 others were given Krira Guru, while Banglar Gourab was given to 23 sport persons each carrying a cash award of Rs one 1 lakh each.
Senior Paes accepted the award on behalf of his son Leander who was away in Bangkok for the Thailand Open.
Khel Samman carries a purse of Rs 50,000 each which was given to 26 sports persons including cricketer Manoj Tiwary.
Banerjee also formally announced the State Football Academy with 100 recruits and Gautam Sarkar was made the technical director.
Lifetime Achievement: Leander Paes, Sourav Ganguly.
Banglar Gourav: Keshav Dutt, Sudhir Karmakar, Samaresh Chowdhury, Gautam Sarkar, Aloke Mukherjee, Biswajit Bhattacharya, Crompton Dutta, Manash Bhattacharya, Shyamal Banerjee, Bidesh Bose, Rama Sarkar, Bikash Panji, Dibyendu Barua, Surajit Sengupta, Soma Biswas, Bhaskar Ganguli, Prasanta Banerjee, Sudip Chatterjee, Krishanu Dey, Utpal Chatterjee, Jhulan Goswami, Santi Mallick, Nemai Goswami.
Kriraguru Award: Dr Vece Paes, Amal Dutta, Prasun Banerjee, Shabbir Ali, Subhas Bhowmick, Pranab Roy, Akhtar Ali, Subrata Bhattacharya, Manoranjan Bhattacharya, Syed Nayeemuddin, Kuntal Roy, Monaranjan Porel, Sambaran Banerjee.
Khel Samman Award: Wriddhiman Saha, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Manoj Tiwary, Mehtab Hossain, Subrata Pal, Syed Rahim Nabi, Poulami Ghatak, Joydeep Karmakar, Mampi Das, Asha Roy, Rahamatullah Mollah, Bharat Chhetri, Anusri Ghosh, Surya Sekhar Ganguly, Mary Ann Gomes, Arup Vaidya, Aparna Ghosh, Sanu Debnath, Tumpa Debnath, Chanda Gayen, Ujjal Roy, Saloo Chowdhury, Mouma Das, Mohammad Ali Qamar, Dola Banerjee and Rahul Banerjee.