It provided the most picturesque moment at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the Capital. Five years on, it paints an ugly picture of the mega event which left the country saddled with many expensive structures that stand as white elephants.
An improvised aerostat, a helium balloon, purchased at a cost of Rs 35 crore, was the centre of attraction at the opening and closing ceremonies at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. However, once the show was over on October 14, 2010, the officials had no clue how to use it. As a result, the 40m X 80m X 12m balloon was shoved into a huge cargo container at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Its lock is rusted, giving a fair idea when it was last opened.
At the opening ceremony, the aerostat hovered 25m above the packed Nehru Stadium, beaming images in psychedelic colours. While it was a massive attraction, the money splurged on it without a legacy plan has led to sheer waste of money. Normally, organisers rent such equipment to keep costs down and avoid such hassles.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) says it is still finalising a plan for the 5000 kg (including cables and equipment) airship. “The aerostat cost the government about Rs 35 crore, and is with the SAI. A plan is on to generate revenue from it,” SAI director general, Injeti Srinivas, told HT.
The aerostat was imported from England, and the fact that it went into a huge cargo container days after the Games indicates there was no plan to deploy it after the event. A year later, the CWG organising committee invited tenders from prospective buyers but none showed interest in acquiring the balloon-type object with a 360 degrees projection surface.
The Union Cabinet had decided in 2012 to give it away to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for use in scientific research — tethered aerostats can be used as a radar platform, etc. It even wrote to the DRDO, but the government organisation turned down the ‘free’ gift saying it had no use for it.
Two years ago, the Goa government wrote to the sports ministry, expressing keenness to acquire the aerostat for the 12-nation Lusofonia Games. But the deal didn’t materialise.
Exactly five years on, the cynosure of the Games remains an eyesore.