The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) seems to be slipping yet again on a project planned to provide accommodation to the one lakh tourists expected to visit the city next year for the Commonwealth Games.
DDA had in the last three years auctioned 39 hotel plots, which after completion would have provided 6,008 rooms for tourists. But when it became evident that the hotels won't be ready before the Games (of the 6008 rooms, only 2,204 rooms are expected to be ready by October 2010), DDA had in November 2008 decided — as an alternative— to convert 3,179 of its upcoming flats in Vasant Kunj and Jasola to service apartments.
One year after the decision was taken, DDA is yet to finalise the agency to upgrade these flats to service apartments matching international standards.
As per the proposal, the facilities in the service apartments have to be equivalent to a three-star hotel room.
According to the Union Tourism Ministry, any further delay in awarding the upgradation work can result in the project missing the games deadline.
Of the 3179 flats that will be upgraded to service apartments, 2709 are in Vasant Kunj, and the remaining are in Jasola.
“According to the original contract, DDA had awarded the work to one Brahmaputra Builders to build flats according to standard DDA specifications. But after it was decided that they would be converted to service apartments, the specifications was changed,” said a Ministry official who did not want to be quoted.
“These service apartments have to match international standards. This means that the rooms would have to be redone, floor, toilets, lift and the faced of the building needs to be upgraded. This takes time. But DDA does not seems to realize the urgency and is still dilly dallying."
Even a section of DDA officials admit the delay has raised doubts on whether the flats would be upgraded in time.
“DDA has just started the process of appointing an agency for the work. In any building construction, erecting the structure is just 40 per cent of the work while 60 per cent is finishing. It takes time,” said an official.
The official added that once the flats are upgraded, they would be handed over to the India Tourisn Development Corporation (ITDC) who will furnish the apartments to international standard.
Even in a recent review meeting taken by the Union Tourism Ministry, DDA was pulled up for failing to develop proper approach roads to the flats in Vasant Kunj.
“We have to hand over the flats to ITDC by March 2010. Delay on the part of DDA can derail the entire schedule,”" the official said.
Presently, there is a shortage of 30,000 hotel rooms in the city. To bridge this, the government had planned to add 26,774 hotel rooms before the CW Games.
But according to Union Tourism Ministry figures, of the total planned rooms, only 9597 (35 per cent) are guaranteed to come up before the games.
And as on September 4, just 41 per cent (3952) of these guaranteed rooms have been completed.