It was a prestigious national project, but when the Commonwealth Games Village was being readied for the games 2010, comfort-loving dogs – and not athletes – were found to be using some of the beds. And now beds – with cupboards and tables too – are at the centre of a controversy as residents, some of whom have paid huge sums to own apartments in the national project built in collaboration with Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and developer Emaar MGF, complain that furniture worth crores from the project has been simply dumped near their apartments.
“We’re now talking about smart cities and we can’t even get a smart village ready. Five years have gone by and the complex is still a work in progress. We’ve all spent on an average Rs. 2 crore and this is what we get,” many of them fume, pointing out to the huge dumping ground with furniture piled up in lots, some under sheds and others covered by tarpaulins and others left out in the open.
This is not only a breeding ground for mosquitoes but also a fire hazard. The tarpaulin sheets are extremely ugly and unappealing near the high-end apartments. “It makes the place look like a resettlement colony,” residents say.
Why the furniture has been chucked out of the village remains a mystery. If one were to assume that it cost around Rs. 2 lakh to refurbish an apartment during the Games, the entire lot of furniture for 1,168 apartments, would have then cost around Rs. 23 crore, all of it taxpayers’ money.
“All the money has gone down the drain. This is nothing but public loot. DDA could have at least asked the residents if they wanted to buy it instead of wasting money on removing and dumping it. Otherwise it should have been auctioned,” residents say.
According to Somit Makar, general secretary of the Village, DDA had removed all the furniture meant for the games lying in the apartments till date. “This is being kept in the adjacent plot and we have been told that it will be auctioned soon. The place where the furniture has been stocked will be converted into a park and we have already written to the government about this issue,” he says.
When contacted, a senior DDA official admitted it was their furniture, but denied that it cost crores. “India Tourism Development Corporation bought the furniture for the CWG Village for which it was paid Rs. 18 crore by DDA. While 50% of the furniture was given by DDA to the Sports Authority of India for its hostels across the country, the remaining furniture was given to the Indian Military Academy (IMA). Some was given to DDA staff at 25% of the cost as per the decision of the authority. What’s been kept outside is the furniture taken out of the flats and found to be unserviceable. The cost of this furniture is not more than Rs 1 crore. An online notice for auctioning this will be sent out next week and hopefully it will be cleared soon,” the official says.
But why the wastage? Why not put it to good use and give it to someone who really needs furniture?
“A decision was taken that the furniture had been purchased only for the purpose of the Games and so was not durable to be used for high-end apartments such as those within the complex. Meanwhile, a request was received from SAI and IMA. Despite several auction notices, no kabadiwallas came forward to buy the pieces, so we will be sending out a fresh notice next week and see what happens,” the official said.
A decision has already been taken to convert the patch into a park. “This is a 5.5 hectare green patch that will be developed into a park. This has already been sent for financing sanction,” say officials.