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Proposal to increase Arjuna awardees rejected

August 02, 2003 15:56 IST

The newly-formed Arjuna Awards committee's proposal to increase the number of awardees from this year was rejected by the government on Saturday.

"We have not made any changes in the guidelines and will follow the old policies while selecting sportspersons for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards, Sports Minister Vikram Verma said in Delhi.

"There won't be any deviation this time and no increase in number of awardees," the minister said, putting to rest speculation about two sportspersons being selected for the coveted Khel Ratna Award 2002.

Newly-formed Arjuna Awards committee chairman P K Banerjee, who was in Delhi to finalise the names for nomination, had said on Thursday the committee will suggest to the government to increase the number of awardees to accommodate more deserving candidates.

As per the government guidelines, 15 sportspersons and a disabled athlete are selected for the Arjuna Awards each year while the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award is given to one sportsperson.

The government's decision not to deviate from its policy may force the Arjuna Awards committee, which had decided to nominate 21 for the Arjuna Awards and two -- athlete K M Beenamol and shooter Anjali Bhagwat -- for Khel Ratna, to amend the list before submitting it to the Sports Ministry.

The Sports Minister also said the panel is yet to submit its report to the ministry for final approval.

"This is a very confidential matter and we are yet to receive the nominations. The matter is still under process and the members are still deliberating," said Verma.

"Normally the ministry gets the nominations in the first week of August and after scrutinising the list, the names of the approved sportspersons are announced", he said.

The awards will be presented by the President at a function on August 29.

The 13-member panel, which completed its two-day meeting in Delhi on Friday, had for the first time proposed to give the Khel Ratna Award to two sportspersons --Anjali and Beenamol- for their outstanding achievements last year.

The committee, according to sources, selected the duo after taking into consideration several names including discus thrower Neelam J Singh, athlete Sunita Rani, women's hockey player Mamta Kharab and boxer Mohammad Ali Qamar.

Similarly, the 20 sportspersons along with a disabled athlete nominated by the committee for the Arjuna award included Kharab, Qamar, cricketer Virender Sehwag, hockey player Gagan Ajit Singh, footballer I M Vijayan, athlete Saraswati Saha, golfer Shiv Kapur, spiker V Ravikant Reddy, long jumper Anju Bobby George, weightlifter T Muthu, wrestler Palwinder Singh Cheema, billiards player Alok Kumar, kabaddi player Ram Mehar Singh and shooters Suma Shirur and Anwar Sultan.

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