Sports Min launches schemes to ease funds access for athletes

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NEW DELHI: The Sports Ministry Friday launched three major initiatives - online portal for schemes of department of sports, National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) website and revised scheme of cash award, national welfare and pension to sportspersons.

Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, while announcing the new initiatives from his ministry, said they were launched with a vision to make these schemes more user-friendly, easy to access and transparent.

These revised schemes will provide more transparency and accountability to give benefit to sports persons in record time, the minister explained.

While active athletes who seek recognition and rewards from the government can now apply online on the portal of department of sports, corporates, PSUs and individuals can contribute to NSDF fund on its newly-built website.

Thakur highlighted that now, any individual sportsperson can directly apply for all three schemes as per his/her eligibility. “Earlier the proposals were received through Sports Federations/SAI, which used to take considerable time for submission of the proposals. Sometimes it used to take more than 1-2 years to approve the proposal. To ensure timely submission and subsequent approval of cash award, applicant now needs to apply online for cash award scheme within six months from the last date of closing of the particular event,” he noted.

The minister further informed that verification process in all three schemes has been eased to a great extent to reduce the processing time. To ensure that the coach(es) get their cash award in a timely manner, required changes have been made in the scheme. Pension benefits have been extended to the athletes of Deaflympics also. 
“To implement the above features in these schemes, the Department of Sports has developed web portal to facilitate sportspersons in applying to seek benefits under the above schemes of Department of Sports,” he added.

Thakur said that this online portal will facilitate real time tracking of applications by the sportspersons and authentication through One Time Password (OTP) sent on their registered mobile number. Physical submission of applications by the applicants to the Ministry would now be no longer required. The portal has also been integrated with DBT-MIS which will enable transfer of funds to the sportspersons directly into their bank accounts to fulfil the objectives of DBT Mission of the Government of India.

The minister further added that the portal will not only help the Department in quick disposal of all applications in time bound manner but will also be used to generate different types of required reports and data management of the sportspersons. The online portal would be further upgraded from time to time to suit the requirement of the sportspersons and the prevalent scenarios.

Thakur highlighted that the department has also developed a dedicated interactive website for ‘National Sports Development Fund’ (NSDF). This Fund is based on CSR contributions from Central & State Governments, PSUs, private companies, and individuals etc. for promotion and development of sports in the country. 
The minister informed that individual, institution and corporate organizations can now directly contribute for players, sports facilities, and sports events through the portal. The NSDF corpus is used for Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme, Infrastructure development by eminent sportspersons and sports organizations etc. 

“This dedicated website will provide easy and transparent access not only to the sportspersons but also to the CSR contributors. This website will help us in making NSDF a great success for the development of sports in the country,” he said.

The minister reiterated that procedures have been relaxed for the athletes so that they can get the benefits of welfare schemes without any delay.

"Pension for meritorious sportspersons scheme also used to take time and many failed to get the benefit. So we have made available to sportspersons an easy to use transparent system.

"It is user-friendly, technology driven and by this we can fulfil the minimum government maximum government thought also.

"We will try to upgrade this system continuously so that life becomes easy and one can get the benefits. It is easy to apply, takes less time and money gets transferred directly to bank accounts through DBT."

Thakur also appealed to citizens, private entities and PSUs to contribute to the NSDF for the development of Indian sports.

"NSDF is a big initiative in creating funds for TOPS, other benefits for athletes and developing infrastructure. PSUs, corporates have helped us from time to time in creating this fund.

"Individuals can also contribute if they want. My appeal to all countrymen, corporate sector, PSUs and all others institutions to go online and make their contribution, which will help us in taking sports forward," he said.

"Adopt a player, adopt a game, adopt a hostel, adopt a field... You can choose and come forward to adopt any player, any sport, any hostel, any sports infrastructure, we are ready to collaborate with you and it will be technology-driven and transparent."

Asked by PTI if the process of National Sports Awards, given on the National Sports Day, can be made online, the minister said: "I will take it as a good suggestion. We will take note of this."

All contributions to NSDF will get exemptions from income tax.