His detractors are baying for his blood for bringing the Commonwealth Games to the Capital. Six months to go and the Games are in the news for all the wrong reasons: slow progress of work, lack of organizing preparedness, the beef issue, and the humongous expenditure of the whole organizing exercise to name a few.
In an interview with the Hindustan Times, Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, assured that everything would be fine and that the Games wouldn’t cost the government a penny.
Work on many venues is behind schedule and the Games Federation chief Michael Fennell has said that delays at venues like Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium are areas of concern. How will you ensure that the venues will be complete?
A. I see no problem in completion of the venues. The main buildings are ready. Only some work remains.
Even if the venues come up by October, will they be ready to host the test events?
A. Everything is going well. We will have all the test events and will have good trials. Work progressed in a similar manner in Melbourne, too.
Since the venues are being built by different agencies and the OC is facing all the flak, don’t you think the OC should have had more control?
A. I don’t mind the flak. I am responsible for 34 functional areas of organizing. Our work on the venues, cabling and finishing, will start after their delivery.
Critics say the event is bleeding the exchequer and that it will be a financial burden.
A. The Games have a Rs 1600 crore budget. The country will not incur any expenses. The money taken from the government is a loan, not a grant and will be returned. Our revenue from TV rights has doubled.
Security is a big concern for the participating countries. Why hasn’t the OC been vocal about its concerns on security?
A. We will have to be on a high state of alert during the Games. Necessary security modifications will be made. Despite the security concerns, all 71 participating countries are coming.
Do you think the security measures during the Games may hassle the spectators?
A. I believe people should enjoy the Games despite the security. There should be flexibility in taking security measures so that spectators can enjoy the Games.
Will you serve beef?
A. The decision on beef has not been taken yet.
What will be the lasting legacy of the Games for the Capital, or even the country?
A. The Games will leave behind a legacy of Olympic sports. For Delhi, it’s a major leap in development. Whenever an event like the Commonwealth Games takes place, the host city advances by several years.