All decked up for the big party, but no guests to host.
The Commonwealth Games Village is all bustling with activity, so are the stadia around the capital, but the student hostels of the Delhi University continue to wait for their elusive guests, even as the event takes off today.
The hostels, which were vacated and renovated with substantial funds in the run-up to the Games and turned into 'budget accommodations' for incoming tourists, are lying vacant, frustrating the officials who oversaw their upkeep.
Interestingly, there was much talk about the plight of students who were evicted from the hostels and had to cough up hefty sums in rents in private accommodations.
"We are still to be allotted our share of tourists," says a dejected Kumar Amarendra Singh, warden of the Kirorimal College, who actively oversaw its renovation and furnishing in anticipation of hosting 'guests' from abroad.
Initially, there was confusion over exactly who would be accommodated in the hostels, and many believed that some of the athletes might actually put up there.
But, the UGC later cleared the air, and said these hostels would host tourists who fly in during the period, and desire to opt for budget accommodations.
At Rs 250 per person per day, the hostels were meant to be unbelievably cheap, but the Games Travel Office of the Organising Committee is yet to direct tourists to them.
The money was to go to the hostel's maintenance fund.
"We continue waiting for the elusive guests. It is disappointing because we have been working for four to five months to welcome them," Singh said.
"But we are still hoping to entertain some of the guests," he added.
Some 3,000 undergraduate students of DU were evicted from their hostels in July when repair and restoration started, and had to find accommodation around the campus.
University officials said UGC had disbursed around Rs 58 lakh for civil work and Rs 20,000 per person (as per the number of students who were occupying hostel rooms) for furnishing, for the much-needed repair of the hostels which have not been renovated for decades.
"Our hostel was included in the UGC list at a very late stage, much after other hostels had even begun work, and we were asked to prepare to host volunteers," said Chandrachur Singh, Warden of the Hindu College Hostel at DU.
"We finished work in record time to be ready for the event, but guests are yet to trickle in," he said.
The students who were driven out might be annoyed to see their hostels vacant even as they are left to fend for themselves, but they can at least take comfort in the fact that they would return to a much-better residential place.
"Now when our students return, at least they will have a 500 lph reverse osmosis water purifier, a much better mess, toilets, beds and linen," Singh says.