Only for 15 days? That is the question that comes to mind each time I read a report or hear about how much the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi is costing us. I shall get to the numbers a little later, but let me first ask: Is the sports and city infrastructure, which is rapidly coming up and making Delhi a more classy megapolis, going to last just 15 days?
A lot of numbers are doing the rounds, including a mind-boggling Rs 30,000 crore that an NGO has released. Let me reiterate that the cost of the Games is Rs 1620 crore – and this is by way of a loan from the Government that will be repaid from the revenues we earn from sale of broadcast rights, sponsorships, ticket and merchandising.
There has been some talk of the city being left with “severe financial legacy.” I shall address that but only after speaking of the sporting legacy that the Games will leave for Delhi.
Seven venues are being upgraded, spanking new facilities for nine sports are being opened and a number of training facilities are being either upgraded or created. And each of these has been designed with the athlete in mind.
Delhi can truly be the sports capital of the country too, what with our national squads training here in the run up to major competitions. Also, the megapolis has the wonderful opportunity to become the most sports-conscious city in India. Its citizens, who are among the most important stakeholders in the venture, have taken to the Games admirably.
The ever-expanding network of the Delhi Metro – I am told that it will extend to 185km during the Games, spanning the IGI Airport to Connaught Place, to the Games Village in Akshardham to all venues – and the 2000 low-floor buses will make commuting in the city a pleasant experience.
Add to that the new over-bridges and flyovers, and Delhi’s commuters will have a hassle-free time on the city’s roads. None of these facilities has been built to benefit only the Games. These are lasting legacies.
I am sure that the new infrastructure, especially the new airport terminal, will also boost tourism and will make Delhi a hub for international tourists. A study by Price Waterhouse Cooper says India’s GDP will benefit by $4500 million over four years from 2008-2012. Thanks to all these projects, as many as two and a half million jobs would have been created.
Let me draw your attention to reports from Scotland where the budget for the 2014 Glasgow CWG has been revised by 70 million pounds to 523.6 million pounds. It wasn’t any different in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Inflation is not a local phenomenon and cost escalation is a common feature.
To brand the Games a wasteful extravaganza is to take a very short-sighted view. Let me congratulate you and your fellow citizens for taking the discomfort during the city development with a smile. Your patience, I am sure, will be rewarded with a world-class city. Rest assured: That is not just for 15 days.