Rourkela (Odisha): Cranes lifting heavy equipment, dusty roads leading to the site, people in safety vests and helmets doing their jobs amid mounds of sand and cement scattered everywhere.
There are plenty of signs that the construction of the largest hockey stadium in the country is in full swing.
Next January, the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in the tribe-dominated Sundargarh district of Odisha will be packed to the brim for the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup.
As many as 20,000 supporters will be committed to the Indian hockey team, which is high on the success of the Tokyo Olympics and will not only try to improve the quarterfinals in the 2018 edition in Bhubaneswar, but also win the showpiece.
Work on the stadium on the outskirts of the town of Rourkela began in June last year and has been going around the clock as officials compete to complete it within the deadline.
It normally takes about 18-24 months to build a stadium of this size.
“But we have designed and planned it in such a way that we can save time in engineering and the conventional construction part,” said Sports Department infrastructure adviser Swagat Singh.
The executive body of the Rs 200-crore stadium is the Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odisha and has sub-leased the work to de Larsen and Toubro.
The 80 crore accommodation near the practice field is being done by another contractor and the deadline is October, the official said.
The 35-acre site includes the stadium and accommodation on the 120-acre campus of Biju Patnaik University of Technology.
“It is the largest hockey stadium in India. We also assume it is the largest in the world, but we have yet to get that confirmation from the FIH,” he told a group of journalists at the site, 293 km northwest of the capital Bhubaneswar.
Singh radiated confidence to complete the work on time in August.
“Nearly 50-60 percent of the work is complete,” he told PTI.
The workforce is around 400. Casting is done at night and preparatory work in the morning due to the scorching heat of recent weeks.
The complete hull will be ready at the end of this month. Once the skeletal structure is complete, the workers begin the finishing touches.
There are many USPs of this project including that it is a handicap friendly stadium.
“In other stadiums there are multiple floodlights, but we integrate it into the building itself so it interferes with the aesthetics,” Singh said.
The colosseum-like structure is continuous, making it more functional in terms of looking.
Singh emphasized that you get a clear view without any block of view, no matter which gallery or corner a spectator sits in.
The playing field has a more run-out area, the official said, expressing hopes it would host many World Cup matches, which are yet to be planned.
There will be some light projection and the facade is designed to integrate cultural aspects of the region.
Wall art and murals will also be there. It will be a fusion of culture and heritage, Singh said.
Like the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee in Los Angeles, the government planned to write Rourkela on the lush green and scenic Durgapur Hills, which overlook and span one side of the stadium.
“But there are some technical and stability issues,” said additional district magistrate Subhankar Mohapatra. “We’re still trying hard.”
Prior to the World Cup, the Federation Internationale de Hockey (FIH) will certify that it has met all the standards.
He said they plan to hold a Pro League at the end of October that will serve as a test event.
After the World Cup, the government is considering converting the entire complex into an academy, so that it remains a benchmark.
Sundargarh is considered to be the cradle of Indian hockey which evolved into Dilip Tirkey, Amit Rohidas and Birendra Lakra. From children to the elderly, there is a lot of craze of the sport in the region.
Therefore, the state government wanted to have a footprint in the district as they wanted to give it as a gift to the local people, Singh stressed.
“A lot of kids here would rather hold a hockey stick than a cricket bat.”
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