Walking into Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium — venue for the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics and weightlifting events of next October’s Commonwealth Games — you are greeted by muddy tracks all around.
Last week’s rains haven’t helped. Workers and cranes are everywhere and the white superstructure that will support the roof is barely complete.
Inside, the floor is a mess. The tracks where Usain Bolt will hopefully set Delhi afire are just uneven mud pits for now and the cemented levels wear a forlorn look — seating is probably 10 months away.
In most mega multi-sport events, stadiums are ready at least a year ahead. This gives officials a chance to test the tracks and venue capability and the time to make necessary changes while home athletes get a chance to acclimatise and take advantage of the conditions. Indian athletes will have no such luck, while officials can only hope that everything goes off okay, venue wise.
According to the German engineers roped in only five months ago and their Australian counterparts, brought in by an increasingly desperate Organising Committee a few days ago, meeting the March 2010 deadline (it was earlier December 2009) for the completion of Nehru Stadium looks unlikely.
“The deadline given to us for the completion of the stadium is March 2010, but the current situation is not looking very pleasant and I am sure the deadline will be postponed by at least a couple of months and could go into May or June,” said Mark Houghs, a German engineer on site.
Houghs and another German, Matty, have been here for five months. “There are lots of problems. The people over here are very careless and the mentality is very lazy. If one person works, the other five want to just stand around him and watch. They all just waste time,” said Houghs, clearly miffed with the work culture.
Matty was slightly more diplomatic. “It is not that work is not happening, but in the past five months, the progress we have seen has been very slow. We would love to see this speeded up.”
The team of Australian engineers who will help build the roof were more optimistic. “I hope we can complete the work by the end of March 2010. Six months is a long time,” said Marek, an Australian engineer here. We can only hope his words are prophetic.