parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture.
Hindustan Times had, in a series of five investigative articles, reported recently how far behind schedule Delhi was on venues for the Games, the players’ village, hotels, roads and flyovers and even the international airport.
The panel headed by CPM MP Sitaram Yechury has arrived at the same conclusion over the availability of hotel rooms for one lakh foreign tourists expected during the Games.
And more. In fact, it has found slackness all around.
“The committee is perturbed to note that the countdown to CWG (Commonwealth Games) has begun but there seems inadequate infrastructure in all sectors such as roads, airport, accommodation, surface transport, entertainment, basic amenities, parking, information centres, security, stadia and supply of power.”
But the panel decided to stay primarily with hotels.
“The committee notes with concern that the pace of creation of additional hotel accommodation at 39 hotel sites auctioned by DDA since January 2006 is lagging behind schedule…” the report said.
And it questioned the ability of the Delhi Development Authority, the nodal agency for constructing hotels and players’ village, to carry through the work, saying it has “serious doubts” about its capability.
Approximately 30,000 hotel rooms are needed for the Games in and around Delhi. The authority was to deliver around 5,929 of these but is sure of only 1,924; likely to come up with 2,015 more, but is doubtful about the remaining 1,990.
Reacting to the report, Tourism Minister Ambika Soni said, “I assure that there would be no shortage of hotel rooms, if our recommendation to increase the floor area ratio and reduce the licence fees is accepted.”
“Our bed and breakfast scheme has got a good response and has already taken off in Delhi,” she said.
With the possibility of the city falling short of hotel rooms, the government is using B&B and unsold authority flats to make good the shortfall. It is also toying with the idea of using college hostels to accommodate guests.
But there isn’t much time left. And the panel found it frustrating that there was a “distinct absence of a coordinating mechanism to ensure that all the authorities/agencies worked in united manner”.
It said a single authority was needed to coordinate the work of the many agencies involved.