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Pune-based Army Sports Institute training female athletes: Lt Gen A K Singh

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Pune, Mar 31 (PTI) Pune-based Army Sports Institute will be imparting rigorous training to young female athletes to help them compete at national and international level, Lt General Ajai Kumar Singh, General Officer-Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Command said on Sunday.

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Altogether 30 girls have been enrolled and will begin training at the institute in May, Lt Gen Singh said in an interview to PTI, on the eve of the Southern Command celebrating its 130th Raising Day on April 1.

The army’s initiative will contribute significantly to the holistic development of the sports landscape in India and also underscores the significance of gender equality and inclusivity in sports, Lt Gen Singh said.

The newly-established Army Girls Sports Company aims at nurturing girl talent in archery, athletics, boxing and weightlifting, the top army commander said.

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The Army Sports Institute is one of the two centres of excellence identified for this initiative. The other centre is Army Marksmanship Unit in Mhow.

The selected girls will undergo rigorous training and compete at both national and international levels, offering them the opportunity to demonstrate their prowess and bring honour to the nation.

The selected girls will also be eligible for recruitment as direct entry Non-Commissioned Officers and Junior Commissioned Officers, in addition to enrolment as Agniveers, he said.

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“Progressive steps to enhance deployment avenues for women officers are being taken. Women officers being commissioned from OTA Chennai will now pass out along with their male batchmates with common merit. Permanent commission to women officers has also commenced after being considered by gender neutral selection boards,” he said.

The Southern Command has conducted various activities in line with the government’s schemes, including creation of 75 Amrit Sarovars with a catchment area of 485 lakh cubic litres, adoption of 75 schools under project Vidyanjali, millet provision for Southern Command Zone, proposal for Nagar Van and Yojana and Jal Shakti Abhiyan, he said.

The Southern Command has always been the first responder in times of crisis, be it the Bhuj earthquake of January 2001 or the floods in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, he said.

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The Command played a significant role during Cyclone Tauktae relief operations in May 2021. The cyclone had affected areas of Kerala, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli areas.

The Southern Command was also at the forefront during relief and rescue work during the Morbi bridge collapse in October 2022 and Cyclone Michaung, he said.

During cyclones Biparjoy and Michaung, relief columns of Southern Command were actively deployed, establishing close liaison and synergy with the civil administration. They provided relief to thousands of civilians and evacuated them to safety.

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The army columns were the first to reach numerous cut-off villages like Kalvai village in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin district with relief, he said.

The Command’s valiant soldiers without caring for their own lives, have stood by the people and shall continue to do so at all times as part of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations, he said.

The Command area includes catchment basin of rivers like Narmada, Krishna, Godavari and Cauvery.

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The Southern Command, headquartered in Pune since its formation in 1895, has around 7 lakh ex-servicemen and 2.5 lakhs Veer Naris (widows of armed forces personnel who laid down their life for the nation).

“The welfare of these veterans and Veer Naris is an important responsibility of the Southern Command. Efforts are underway for setting up old age homes where the veterans could spend the golden years of their life with reasonable comfort and hospice care for palliative requirements,” Lt Gen Singh said.

Two such old age homes have been set up at Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram.

Around 3,000 veterans attended the mega ex-servicemen’s rally in Pune in February. Around 45,000 veterans attended online.

“Activities like resolution of grievances pertaining to pension and medical checkup were held. Employment certificates were also awarded to veterans and Veer Naris, providing them an opportunity for their second innings,” he said.

A Prakriti Wellness Centre has been established at Pune offering holistic healing through multi-disciplinary avenues such as naturopathy, ayurveda and yoga therapy to promote inner wellness and holistic health for serving personnel, dependents and veterans of the armed forces, he said.

A counter offering Jan Aushadhi products and millets produce has also been set up in the Command.

Two alternative healing centres - Aarogyashala Centre at Nasirabad and Konark Aarogya Wellness Centre at Jodhpur - have been established in Southern Command.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed with AIIMS Jodhpur for availability of 50 per cent of critical care resources to Military Hospital Jodhpur during hostilities and natural calamities.

To ensure better education of the wards of serving personnel and veterans, three fully residential coaching institutes are being established through CSR and training partners at Pune, Jodhpur and Secunderabad in the next two months.

The first such facility for 40 students for NEET/ JEE coaching has been set up at Armoured Centre and School, Ahmednagar in collaboration with Axis Bank and National Integrity Educational Development Organisation.

“On its Raising Day, the Southern Command rededicates itself to the nation and looks forward towards the future with professional confidence,” Lt Gen Singh said. PTI VT VT

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