The brand new synthetic track laid at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium for the Commonwealth Games has been badly damaged, making it unfit for competition unless major repair is done on the nine-lane surface.
Although officials say the damage is nothing significant, this correspondent saw the track cracked at many places, particularly on the home straight, about 30 metres from the finishing point. The track is also uneven at places although some patchwork appears to have been done.
The main venue for the Commonwealth Games is yet to be thrown open for training. It is now unlikely to be available for athletes any time soon. The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium complex was renovated at a cost of around R 960 crore. The synthetic track is estimated to have cost around R 3.7 crore.
Officials at the helm of affairs are tight-lipped over the damage, which took place because of a faulty foundation.
So what went wrong? A Sports Authority of India (SAI) official blames faulty work on the base. “Cracks can develop”, the official said on condition of anonymity. “The base work was done hurriedly and specifications were overlooked.”
The extent of the damage is yet to be fully assessed. The Central Public Work Department that built the stadium and SAI are drawing up comprehensive lists of all items partly or fully damaged during the closing ceremony and the costs involved. Ranjeet Singh, the CPWD official in charge of the stadium, refused to comment saying he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The track was damaged at the 250-metre mark during the opening ceremony which was repaired for conducting the track and field events. According to a SAI official, some repair was done even after the Games ended.
HS Kingra, a senior sports ministry official on deputation with SAI, played down the issue. “The track is smooth, there is no question of damage,” he told the HT. “Minor scratches are not serious damage.”
The track was laid by the Delhi-based company Shiv Naresh Sports who liaised with Swiss manufacturers, Conica.