Just hide what can’t be spruced up — that seems to be the motto behind the Delhi government’s recent efforts in presenting a shiny face for the Commonwealth Games 2010.
The government is approaching northeastern states like Mizoram and Assam for a supply of bamboo to create screens to hide slums and other unsavoury sights, including rundown localities, from the eyes of visitors.
The screens will be set up close to all Games venues.
Delhi seems to have taken a leaf out of the Chinese capital Beijing’s book, which erected huge screens to keep certain areas hidden from visitors.
“I have spoken to the resident commissioner of Mizoram in Delhi for sourcing bamboo from there. He told me it wouldn’t be a problem,” said Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta. “But it’s just one of the locations to source it from. We are looking at Assam as well.”
Delhi ministers and officials have been on the prowl since the past two months, trying to identify areas that required a facelift or at least a beautiful camouflage.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit herself had accompanied ministers on some of these inspections held a month back.
But Mehta said the purpose was not to simply gloss over unsightly corners, but a solution for a situation where people could not be relocated from their shanties.
“We will be putting up bamboo screens at a few places where people cannot be relocated. But this is happening at very few locations close to Games venues – particularly east Delhi,” he said.
However, the chief minister had identified several areas that needed a makeover or a cover-up.
“The chief minister had identified certain areas around GB Pant, LNJP and RML hospitals with encroachment of public land and poor road infrastructure,” said a government source.
In fact, after the chief minister’s visit, the hospital administration worked over time and the façade of the LNJP hospital has been completely primped, as has been the emergency services.
So while the kabadiwalas (scrap dealers) near Ranjit Singh flyover may be hidden behind bamboo screens, the stable opposite LNJP may finally have to make way for something that smells better.
“The stable will go. Anyway, only 60-65 horse owners are left. The MCD has a plan to relocate them,” said a senior government official.
Dikshit also had announced that those who wanted to change their profession could receive an autorickshaw or a shop in exchange.
“Kiosks in the entire stretch between Ajmeri Gate and the new MCD building will be redone,” said the official, underlining the fact that the government did not want to snatch anybody’s livelihood.
The official also said it will be ensured that the kiosks are clean and of a standardised design.