New Delhi: The remodelled, 60,000 capacity Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium -- showpiece venue for the Commonwealth Games`s opening and closing ceremonies and athletic events - - was finally inaugurated Tuesday, just two months before the formal inauguration of the Games Oct 3.
The stadium, with its international look that included striking green turf, synthetic running track and sparkling blue seats, was originally built for the 1982 Asian Games. It was inaugurated by Sports Minister M.S. Gill in the presence of Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit and Commonwealth Games organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi.
The stadium, refurbished at a cost of a whopping Rs.9.6 billion (approximately $200 million), will host the athletics, weightlifting and lawn ball disciplines. International consultants from six countries - Germany, Switzerland, UK, US, Mexico and Australia - put their contributed their skills and knowhow together to construct the state-of-the-art facility.
Gill said that government has finally completed the task of constructing the venues for the Games slated for Oct 3-14 in which more than 10,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and teams will take part.
All the venues will be handed over to the organising committee by Aug 1. The weightlifting venue, which is also inside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, is also ready and will be inaugurated in two-three days.
"We have now completed the responsibility of constructing the venues. Now we are waiting for the Games. Only the weightlifting venue is scheduled to be formally inaugurated. That is also ready and we will inaugurate it in the next couple of days," said Gill.
Gill said that it was a complex engineering structure and the first of its kind in India in the design of the innovative coated-glass fibre roof that had no support from inside the stadium. He congratulated all the engineers, designers and contractors for their hard work in completing the venue.
"When I took charge in 2008 and saw the stadium, I was worried, how it can be completed in time. But thanks to their effort that we have been able to do it. We will hand over all the stadiums to the organising committee by August 1 so that they can do the overlays work," he said.
There are three independent structures of main stadium building - lower tier, main building and supporting structure for membrane roof. The earthquake resistant building has a two tier seating arrangement.
The training area will have nine sprint synthetic tracks and warm-up areas for throwing and the final warm-up synthetic track is inside the main stadium.
Among the important features of the stadium are high definition television transmission, state of art sports lighting and a specially designed underground tunnel for the opening and closing ceremonies.
But the most innovative feature of the stadium is the membrane cable roof which alone cost Rs.100 crore ($20 million). The membrane roof made of coated glass fibre is the largest in Asia. It has around 443 tonnes of pre-stretched cable with a length of 2,200 km.
The roof was built without any perpendicular support from inside the stadium. It has been built with new support extending up to 71 metres into the stands.
Gill went on to add that the deadlines were missed due to the last minute addition of a specially designed tunnel for the opening and the closing ceremony.
"We also had to build a tunnel for the ceremonies. So there were some changes when the work was going and it took some time for the work to be completed. But they have done a brilliant job. And the entire nation will be proud of this stadium. This is an important venue as it will host the opening and closing ceremony and am sure that it will be a dazzling show," he said.
The deadline for completion of the venue has been changed several times since the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) began the construction work two years and seven months back.
The stadium is the last of the 11 games venues to be completed.