Kolkata, Sep 28 (IANS) Former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and tennis ace Leander Paes were Saturday presented the lifetime achievements awards instituted by the West Bengal government from this year.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee handed out the honours to Ganguly, while the racket great's reward was accepted by his father Vece Paes, who was himself presented the Kriraguru award. Leander could not make to the event as he is now busy in a tournament abroad.
The life time award comprises a cheque of Rs.5 lakh, a memento, a scarf and a blazer.
Ganguly, who received the award amid deafening cheers, said: "This is a proud moment for me."
Altogether 64 sportspersons, both current and former, were given the awards in four categories - lifetime achievement, Banglar Gourab (pride of Bengal), kriraguru (sports guru) and Khel Samman - at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
Twenty-three former stars were given the Banglar Gourab Award worth Rs.1 lakh each, while 13 former and present coaches got the Kriraguru award that made them richer by Rs.1 lakh each. Twenty-six players from various disciplines were given the Khel Samman Award that had a cash component of Rs.50,000.
The award function, however, was not free of controversies.
Prasun Banerjee, former Indian football captain and now Trinamool Congress MP from Howrah, as also two other past soccer stars Gautam Sarkar and Bidesh Bose, athlete Soma Biswas and chess grandmaster Dibyendu Barua, who were in the panel of jury set up by the government to select the awardees, nominated themselves for the Banglar Gourav section.
Besides, Asian Games double gold medallist Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, and famed swimmer Bula Chowdhury did not find their names. While Sikdar is a former Communist Party of India-Marxist MP, Chowdhury is an ex-legislator from the same party.
Two thousand clubs were doled out Rs.2 lakh each to build infrastructure and improve facilities.
Banerjee announced that her government would set up a sports academy. "But first we will construct a residential football academy. My sports department is working on it," she said.
List of the awardees
Lifetime Achievement: Leander Paes, Sourav Ganguly.
Banglar Gourab: Keshav Dutt, Sudhir Karmakar, Samaresh Chowdhury, Gautam Sarkar, Aloke Mukherjee, Biswajit Bhattacharya, Compton 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.