Delhi has a little over three years left — 1,215 days to be precise — to prepare for the Commonwealth Games it will host. The big show must be managed well; the city’s honour is at stake. Yet how prepared are we for it? The Hindustan Times did a reality check.
Officials of Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which is handling some of the key Games projects, said everything would fall into place by the time the Games are held. But will it? HT found that work on some of the projects has yet to take off.
The DDA is still struggling to get private developers to build the Games Village, where athletes and officials of the participating countries will stay.
Last year, the DDA made some headway in auctioning plots on which new hotels would be built in time for the Games. But lately these auctions have been a disaster, with no one willing to pay the DDA’s reserve price. Far from having built anything on them, some of those who bought the hotel plots earlier are now trying to sell them.
The proposed tunnel road project, linking the Games Village to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, has been stalled, with the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) and Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) objecting to it.
“Ideally work on these above projects should have started by now. They should be completed at least six months before the Games begin, so that the facilities can be tested,” said Rakesh Mehta, Delhi principal secretary in charge of the Commonwealth Games projects. “The delay will leave agencies a very small cushion to carry out the tests.”
With various restrictions imposed by the DDA and the Akshardham temple authorities, not even a single private developer has come forward to construct the Games Village. The DDA extended the deadline for submission of bids thrice, the latest deadline being June 15. Dinesh Rai, DDA vice-chairman, said the agency was hopeful of a good response from developers this time.
The DDA in its time frame submitted to the Commonwealth Games Federation last year had set April 2007 as the deadline to begin work on the Games Village.
Lalit K Bhanot, secretary general, Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee, said there was a reason for the slow start. “If projects like the residential facility or the stadiums are completed early, their maintenance will be a big problem,” he said.
Mehta said so far work has not started on any of the proposed hotels expected to house over one lakh tourist expected during the Games.
The DDA has managed to sell just 13 of the 38 plots that were put for auction in the past one year. And few of the plots that it did manage to sell are already up for resale.
“Several established hoteliers have been approached by brokers. At least 30 per cent of the plots are up for sale. The reason is that people who bought the plots are not the real buyers but investors. People are taking advantage of the absence of strict penalty clauses by the DDA,” said Rajendra Kumar, president, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India. “The DDA should have put some clauses like prohibiting buyers from selling plot for a specific period failing which the plot which is resold can be forfeited,” he added.
The DDA vice-chairman said, “We cannot stop anyone from reselling a plot.”
Another key project stuck is the road link from Games Village to the JLN Stadium.