During the Commonwealth Games of 2010, something really unthinkable happened in the national capital.
Men started respecting newly-painted walls, sanitation workers started reporting to work on time and roads started sporting greenery. Delhi's civic infrastructure took a giant leap. And from clean roads, navigable footpaths to odour-free toilets, everything seemed to function like clock-work.
Two years later, the clock has malfunctioned. The high-end toilets have been locked up, the odourless ones have crumbled, garbage is once again back on the streets and the greenery has greyed. Street furniture such as fancy street lights, garbage bins and advertisement poles have been vandalized, leading to a loss of several crore of rupees.
The theft and vandalisation of street furniture began right after the Commonwealth Games ended. The first to go were the flower pots lined up along roads leading to the Games venues. This was followed by anything that was unprotected and vandals could lay their hands on. Noise barriers on flyovers, streetlights, reflectors, dustbins, tiles and even wall wraps - everything was either filched or defaced.
Delhi failed not only in taking the next step forward but also in maintaining what it possessed. The civic agencies responsible for the failure said they had pulled in all their resources during the Commonwealth Games to put their best feet forward but failed to continue with the high standards.
The pre-trifurcation Municipal Corporation of Delhi had promised to depute a special team and provide a special fund for maintenance of street furniture installed during the Games but that hasn't happened.
"Several projects to keep the city clean have failed due to the difficulty in the management. There are 55,000 sanitation workers in the city but we haven't been able to make them repeat the performance they had put up during the Games," says Subhash Arya, leader of the House of South Corporation.
Right from information kiosks, luxury toilet complexes, modern street art, vending kiosks, aesthetically appealing foot over bridges and trendy streetlights were put up across the city. In Connaught Place, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) had put up shiny steel bollards as a boundary for the pavements. Today not a single one exists as people have stolen them.
The NDMC built three pedestrian bridges and put escalators on them but the facility remains shut most of the time.