Does Delhi even want the Commonwealth Games to take place in the city? Do Delhiites think the event will benefit them in any way? Or is Delhi full of cynics who couldn't care less either way?
The answer to these not-so-frequently-asked questions will come up in a new survey to be launched next week by Delhi’s “green brigade” to gauge people’s perception of the Games, which is set to take place next year and for which thousands of crores of public money is being spent.
After more than two years of activism, including a long-drawn legal battle, against the supposed ill effects of Commonwealth Games-related projects on Delhi’s greenery and aesthetics, environmentalists have decided to finally do this reality check.
The “perception survey”, as it is called, is expected to throw up results that have the potential to unsettle the very basis of the whole anti-Games campaign launched at various quarters, including in court, environmentalists said.
While the decision to commission the study comes at a time when the Congress in Delhi is showcasing the Games as the cornerstone of its development agenda in the election campaign, activists assured that the study was “strictly” apolitical.
“We want to know if the people of Delhi want it (Games) or are just going with it since it was thrust on them without a choice. The results, whatever they may be, will impact the very nature of our protests.
The Indian Olympic Association should have done a study like this before bidding for the Games,” said Manoj Misra, convenor of Yamuna Jiye Abjiyaan (YJA), a confederation of NGOs, conservationists and RWAs, which has been most vocal on its opposition to Games related-projects, especially the Games Village on Yamuna riverbed.
The name of Centre for Media Studies (CMS), a research organisation based in Delhi, is doing the rounds as the possible surveyor because it has already done a similar study on Yamuna for the YJA.
The CMS has its strategy ready.
“To make the study comprehensive and representative of Delhi’s voice, it is important to have a large sample size of respondents and avoid bias in responses and divide the respondents into all profiles,” said Alka Tomar, director, CMS.
A sample size of 1000-plus of all ages, picked from across the city will be asked to answer pointed questions.
“We have to seek responses from exactly that segment which government wants to impress by doing works related to the Games in the city, in order to have an objective report,” she said.
The green brigade, including the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court seeking demolition of all concrete structures on the Yamuna riverbed, including the burgeoning Commonwealth Games Village, the ultra-plush residential complex that will house athletes and officials during the games.
“We are not against the Games per se, but several projects that the Games are bringing in are detrimental to the city’s environment,” Misra said.