Himachal CM opens ice hockey summit at India’s tallest rink
Shimla, Jan 16 (IANS) Donning the traditional robe, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jai Ram Thakur on Sunday inaugurated the ninth National Ice Hockey Championship – 2022 at the country’s tallest outdoor rink, developed at an altitude of 3,720 meters in the picturesque but snow-covered Kaza, a cold desert town in the Spiti Valley.
Thakur said it was the first time the national-level ice hockey competition was held in the state.
Ice hockey is one of the most popular winter sports in the world. This event would give an additional impetus to the tourism development of the region, in addition to promoting ice hockey among the younger generation, he said.
This sport is very popular in Uttarakhand, Ladakh, Kashmir and other Himalayan states. He said that this sport would give a big boost to the development of tourism in this landlocked valley.
Teams from Himachal Pradesh, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Telangana, Ladakh, Chandigarh and Delhi are taking part in the national event.
The Chief Minister, who reached Kaza, some 350 km from the state capital by air, said the government had recently approved the Swaran Jayanti Sports Policy 2021 to give sport a boost. As part of this policy, a reserve of 3% would be granted to sportsmen working in government jobs.
As per the policy, a cash prize of Rs 3 crore would be awarded for winning a gold medal at the Olympics, Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Similarly, a silver medalist will get Rs 2 crore and bronze Rs 1 crore.
The first league match was played between Delhi and Himachal in which Delhi won 4-0. In the second game, Chandigarh defeated Telangana 1-0.
Tribal Development Minister Ram Lal Markanda said the state has placed special emphasis on the development of tribal areas. Adequate provisions have been made in the tribal budget and special emphasis is placed on the creation of infrastructure in the tribal areas.
The ice hockey rink – the tallest in the country because Kaza is located at a higher altitude than Leh – 60 meters by 30 meters, exactly the international standard size, was developed by giving a natural coating of thick layers of ice .
The concept of the natural hockey rink evolved in Kaza from the Shimla rink which was developed by an Irish military officer named Blessington who lived during the British Raj.
The military official had inadvertently kept a bucket of water outside his residence and in the morning found it frozen. This gave him the idea of an ice rink and he created a small one.