Commonwealth Games: Delhi`s missed deadline

New Delhi: Meant to showcase India as a world
class sporting venue, the Commonwealth Games could end up
being an unforgettable embarrassment for the country given the
shoddy build-up which has turned host city Delhi into a giant
construction site.

Tons and tons of rubble are piled on pavements as civic
agencies race against time to finish the so-called
beautification drive, while the Games` venues present an
equally grim picture of unkept promises that were made when
the hosting rights were won amid much fanfare in 2003.

It`s the biggest sporting extravaganza to come to India
after the 1982 Asian Games but the preparations have been
shockingly lax with little over two months left before
athletes from 71 nations land here.

But the Organising Committee and its chairman Suresh
Kalmadi have not missed any opportunity to insist that
everything would be on time and Delhi would host the "best
Commonwealth Games ever".

"All infrastructure would be ready on time and there is
nothing to worry," was Kalmadi`s most recent assurance after
reports of massive corruption rocked the Games.

However, one look at the venues is enough to raise doubts
about these claims.

Already behind schedule, the construction woes have been
further compounded by monsoon.

The Talkatora Stadium, Karni Singh Shooting Range and
Yamuna Sports Complex have a look of unpreparedness despite
being inaugurated by no less then Sports Minister M S Gill.

With just two months to go for the October 3-14 event,
anxiety level is soaring and chances of stadiums being ready
on time seeming increasingly dim.

At the Talkatora Stadium, which has been renamed S P
Mukherjee complex, loose tiles and grills, scattered iron
rods, unfinished staircases and rubble outside the gates
remind of India`s failure to meet construction deadlines which
were revised several times.

Labourers are working no-stop to get things done at the
venue, built at a cost of Rs 175 crore.

The flooring of the passage into the area, is in a mess
with tiles lying broken. The dressing room of athletes looks
more like a storage room with the ceiling missing, and pipes
and cables lying unattended above it.

The railings, which are yet to be welded, are lying on
the floor. Cables, which are strewn around, add to the chaos.

As for the Karni Singh Shooting Range at Kadarpur, a few
spells of rain had left the area in a dilapidated state.

And yesterday also, one downpour was all it took to flood
the range. The corridor and floors were slippery, making it
impossible to walk.

Debris are lying on the site with soggy soil adding to
the unkempt look.

Labourers could still be seen working on various
embankments on the range which was damaged due to the
incessant rains on the night of July 4 and 7.

The chain-linked fences have come down at various places.

The construction work at the ranges started on October
25, 2008 with a financial projection of Rs 150 crore and the
organisers claimed to have finished it months ago.

But the monsoon has exposed the shoddy manner in which
the work was done.

Finally, the Yamuna Sports Complex, the main competition
venue for Table Tennis and Archery events in Vivek Vihar. It`s
hard to believe the Organising Committee`s claim that the
complex is complete.

Work is still on in the main stadium at with pipes lying
along the corners and unused tiles all over the place.

The false ceiling of the complex had collapsed on July 13
and workers can be seen repairing the roof.

The complex which was inaugurated way back in March by
the Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy is still
struggling to meet the deadlines.

Outside the complex, dug-up roads create a scene of chaos
with metal pipes, bricks and other rubbish littering the entry
to the stadium.

Inside, the roof hasn`t been completed with Delhi
Development Authority officials and engineers still grappling
on how to actually design it.

The complex has previous were missed completion deadlines
in December 2009, March and June 2010 and now the latest
August 2010.

One thing common at all the three venues was media ban.

Security was tight and officials concerned with the
stadiums were the only ones allowed in.

"No still photographers and TV camera crew allowed," a
security guard posted at the S P Mukherjee Swimming Complex


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