Plan afoot to turn Shimla skating rink into all-weather facility

Plan afoot to turn Shimla skating rink into all-weather facility

2022-02-24 01:32:24

Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 23

Attempts to upgrade the historic Shimla ice skating rink into an all-weather facility have started all over again. The Smart City Mission has approved funding to the tune of Rs 21 crore for the makeover of the century-old natural ice skating rink, which is functional for just two months at the moment.

Project was floated two years ago too but couldn’t take off

“Smart City Mission has approved a budget of Rs 21 crore for the project, which will be implemented by the Youth and Sports Department,” said Brahm Prakash, GM (Technical), Smart City. “Already, 20 per cent of the approved budget has been given to the Sport Department. However, it needs to complete formalities, like hiring consultant, preparing DPR and floating tender for the work, before March 31. Should they fail to do so, the Smart City Mission can take the money back,” the GM stated.

Skaters and Ice Skating Club officials are quite enthused by the revival of the project.

“Two years ago, a similar proposal was moved but the project could not take off due to some reasons. We hope the project goes through this time and the city gets the much-awaited all weather skating rink,” said Pankaj Prabhakar, a former skater and treasurer, Shimla Ice Skating Club.

Plan of the upgraded skating rink

Major overhauling of the rink would be required to convert it into an all-weather facility.

“A roof, underground pipes for chilling, freezers, etc, would be required. Also, facilities like sitting area, changing rooms, and a parking area beneath the skating

rink have also been proposed in the plan,” Prabhakar said.

Other than helping the local skaters, the upgrade would boost tourism too. “It will be a huge attraction for tourists in the city. Also, we can expect local kids to do well at the national and international level, once the skating activities run round the year,” he stated.

Incidentally, the skating sessions at the rink have been shrinking over the past many years. “Earlier, the weather was more conducive for skating. The ice sheet used to be 3-4 inches thick, now it’s just 1-2 inches due to global warming and other reasons,” he said.

Despite heavy snowfall this year, only 52 skating sessions could be held, down from 86 last year. “The weather was cloudy most of the time, so we couldn’t get more sessions. The weather has become unpredictable for skating. So, an all-weather rink is a must now,” Prabhakar added.

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