HT Image
HT Image

Shame game

The timing could not have been worse. The collapse of a pedestrian overbridge near the main venue just 12 days before the Commonwealth Games has cast fresh doubts over whether the event can be staged successfully.
By Shivani Singh | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 22, 2010 11:39 PM IST

The timing could not have been worse. The collapse of a pedestrian overbridge near the main venue just 12 days before the Commonwealth Games has cast fresh doubts over whether the event can be staged successfully.

While allegations and excuses fly thick and fast, it will be unwise to miss the larger picture. In spite of serious security and infrastructure setbacks — such as the attack on Taiwanese tourists at Jama Masjid and the collapse of the pedestrian bridge — it is still possible that Delhi will be “ready” for the big event by October 3 and that last minute quick fixes – or jugaad– will hold during the Games when the world will be watching us closely.

For the record, the stadiums are nearly complete and the Games village kitchen is up and running. The five-star flats for athletes should also be spruced up in time even if that requires a few hundred sweepers and dog catchers working overtime.
But the questions remain: will these games leave Delhi a better city to live in — as the 1982 Asiad had done? And, can a nation with great power aspirations depend on jugaad to see large projects through?

Ifs and buts
Of course, the organisers will have to keep counting their blessings. If participating countries do not lose their nerve, if patchwork repair jobs hold, if rain and dengue do not play spoilsport and if terror does not strike, we may well have a successful games.

But can a 12-day event, however big and successful, justify such profligacy? With an estimated budget of Rs 31,000 crore, the 2010 event is the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever. In 2006, Melbourne managed the same with $1.1 billion (about Rs 5,200 crore). The 2002 Manchester games ran up a bill of 300 million pounds (about Rs 2,400 crore) and the 2014 Games in Glasgow is being organised on a similar budget.

The expenditure on the 2010 games has shot up 16 times over the last seven years since Delhi bid for the Games. Significantly, much of this money came from the exchequer and not private funding as was projected initially.

“When we began planning for the Games, the idea was to get things done through private investment. But in the end, the government ended up paying for everything,” said A K Jain, former planning commissioner of the Delhi Development Authority.
The Games Organising Committee was supposed to generate Rs 1,600 crore through merchandising, broadcasting, sponsorship and ticket sales. Just two weeks to the Games, the collection from sponsorship stands at a paltry Rs 650 crore.

Dubious legacy
It would still have been possible to justify such a large outlay if the projects being implemented had brought about generational changes in the Capital’s infrastructure or civic facilities.
The 2002 Games, for example, completely overhauled east Manchester, which had remained decrepit since the departure of heavy industries between the 1960s and the 1980s. In 2006, Melbourne revamped its airport, cleaned the Yarra river, and renovated and enlarged a Pragati Maidan-type expo centre.
But lack of planning and the pressure to meet deadlines have left big question marks on the lasting infrastructural legacy of the 2010 Games.

No central authority
Ironically, this has been largely a self-inflicted crisis. Delhi bid to host the Games in 2003 but it was only in 2008 that work on most infrastructure projects began.
Then, there was no effort to set up a Games task force, central authority – like the one headed by Rajiv Gandhi in the run-up to the 1982 Asian Games – that would be in overall charge of all Games-related projects.
Instead, the Indian Olympic Association, the Union sports ministry and various departments of the Delhi government and the Union urban development ministry were given sometimes overlapping responsibilities. This contributed to the all-round confusion that is now giving way to chaos.
“In a hurry to complete work, the government picked (just about any) contractor to execute the projects. While they met the financial capabilities parameter, many have little experience in using sophisticated technologies and equipment imported from developed countries,” said Pradeep Chaturvedi, safety expert and former chairman, Safety & Quality Forum, an association of engineers. “We do not even have skilled labour to execute such projects.”

Little long-term benefit
Lack of planning also deprived the Capital a rare chance of upgrading its civic facilities. More than Rs 3,000 crore is being spent on road improvement, streetlights, streetscaping, etc. But much of this budget is being spent on hurriedly developing “world-class” facilities in the games zones while the rest of Delhi struggles with basic standards.
Digging up long stretches of the city also presented an opportunity to overhaul the Capital’s antiquated drainage and water distribution systems – responsible for frequent water logging, road cave-ins and loss of 40 per cent of treated water through seepage – without further inconveniencing people. But there was little planning to coordinate such projects.

Unequal development
“If you paint some parts of city in gold, it will obviously look good. But the question is: do you need to paint them in gold? This extravagance is based on the desire to be world class and not first class. In the process, we have just created an unequal city,” said town planner A.G.K. Menon.

He argued that the city could have benefited had the funds gone to where it was required. “The games could have happened in (the under-developed) outskirts of Narela or Bawana,” he added.
The government, however, says, if not Narela, another outskirt of the city – Trans-Yamuna – has been developed with the Games money.

“East Delhi is among the most densly populated and least developed parts of the city. We have built flyovers and taken the Metro there. East Delhi has developed better due to the Games than even east Manchester,” said Delhi’s Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta.

Justifying the lavish spending, the government argued that Delhi will
reap the benefits of the pre-Games
overhaul and that metro lines, power plants, roads and bridges do not come cheap.

More promises

“In India, cities get the least investment. This is the first time that we have made such huge investment. There is end-to-end designing of roads. New power plants will make Delhi an inverter-free city,” Mehta said.
Will it? Delhiites will be keeping their fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, many people will be ruing the opportunity India has lost of projecting its arrival on the world stage, as China had done with the Beijing Olympics.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Representational Image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Representational Image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Delhi: Man dead, brother injured for objecting to rash driving in Bindapur

By Karn Pratap Singh
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:50 PM IST
At around 4.30am on Monday, Suraj succumbed to his injuries at the hospital even as police were looking for the alleged attackers. His body was shifted to the hospital’s mortuary for autopsy
Close
A health worker administers Covid-19 vaccine to a Delhi Police personnel at a hospital in New Delhi.(AP)
A health worker administers Covid-19 vaccine to a Delhi Police personnel at a hospital in New Delhi.(AP)

Covid-19 vaccination: Over 80% of Delhi Police personnel inoculated

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:04 PM IST
According to a senior police officer, a total of 66,246 police personnel have got the first dose of coronavirus vaccine till 7 pm on Friday.
Close
Farmers raise slogans during a protest against the new farm laws, at the Delhi-Ghazipur border in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI)
Farmers raise slogans during a protest against the new farm laws, at the Delhi-Ghazipur border in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI)

Farmers’ protest: Traffic remains diverted at several Delhi borders

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Zara Khan
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 08:12 AM IST
The entry and exit points between Delhi and Haryana, passing through Singhu, Tikri, Auchandi, Piau Maniyari and Saboli and Mangesh, continue to remain closed
Close
Semal is one of the 252 species of trees found in Delhi.
Semal is one of the 252 species of trees found in Delhi.

Delhiwale: A semal in ITO

By Mayank Austen Soofi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 03:29 AM IST
The semal trees, unidentifiable the rest of the year, are suddenly as noticeable these days as those famous Buckingham Palace foot guards in red tunics. As if in flames, they tend to capture our attention in the most unexpected places—through a metro train window, or behind a shanty, or in one case, towering above a flyover.
Close
Thermal screening of voters, hand sanitisation was a common practice witnessed across all polling booths.(ANI Photo)
Thermal screening of voters, hand sanitisation was a common practice witnessed across all polling booths.(ANI Photo)

Local issues top priority for voters in civic bypolls

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:26 AM IST
Of the five wards, Kalyanpuri (under East Delhi Municipal Corporation) recorded the highest voter turnout at 59.72% and Shalimar Bagh (under North corporation) the lowest at 42.36%.
Close
Earlier, the JNU had allowed fourth semester M.Phil and M.Tech students of its science school and special centre, as well as final semester MBA students, both day-scholars and hostel residents, to return to campus in the different phases of reopening
Earlier, the JNU had allowed fourth semester M.Phil and M.Tech students of its science school and special centre, as well as final semester MBA students, both day-scholars and hostel residents, to return to campus in the different phases of reopening

JNU campus to open for final year MPhil grads from March 8

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:22 AM IST
The university has also permitted Bachelors and Masters students under the PWD category to enter the campus if they require access to laboratories and other facilities.
Close
Delhi Police personnel at the spot where 25-year-old Simran Kaur was stabbed by a snatcher on Saturday night in Adarsh Nagar. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)
Delhi Police personnel at the spot where 25-year-old Simran Kaur was stabbed by a snatcher on Saturday night in Adarsh Nagar. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

Feel unsafe in our own neighbourhood, say locals after Adarsh Nagar murder

By Anvit Srivastava
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:16 AM IST
Rajini Babbar, a resident of lane number 10, said that every 5-10 days they hear of a similar crime in the area. “The fact that Simran was targeted right in front of her house is scary. It reflects that criminals have no fear of entering residential areas to commit a crime,” she said.
Close
Security personnel stand guard outside a mortuary after a woman identified as Simran Kaur was stabbed by a miscreant while snatching her necklace, at Babu Jagjivan Ram Hospital in New Delhi. (PTI)
Security personnel stand guard outside a mortuary after a woman identified as Simran Kaur was stabbed by a miscreant while snatching her necklace, at Babu Jagjivan Ram Hospital in New Delhi. (PTI)

Delhi: 25-year-old murdered during snatching bid in Adarsh Nagar

By Anvit Srivastava, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:07 AM IST
A CCTV footage of the incident, which was widely shared on social media on Sunday, shows the attacker first lunging at the chain of the woman, identified as Simran Kaur, as she is returning home from a nearby market with her mother and two-year-old daughter
Close
Last week, the government introduced the contactless ticket system in the Delhi Transport Corporation’s (DTC) fleet of 3,760 buses.(Unsplash. Representative image)
Last week, the government introduced the contactless ticket system in the Delhi Transport Corporation’s (DTC) fleet of 3,760 buses.(Unsplash. Representative image)

Final-phase of contactless ticketing on Delhi buses to begin on Monday

UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:38 AM IST
The government launched the first phase of trials concerning the contactless ticket scheme in June 2020, soon after it started relaxing lockdown norms in phases.
Close
HT Image
HT Image

25-year-old stabbed while fending off snatching bid in Adarsh Nagar, dies

By Anvit Srivastava
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 11:34 PM IST
New Delhi: A 25-year-old woman was stabbed to death when she fought back against a snatcher in north-west Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar on Saturday night
Close
Meanwhile, in the ongoing vaccination drive, fewer than half of all registered beneficiaries in the Capital have received shots of a coronavirus vaccine, shows state government data.(HT file photo)
Meanwhile, in the ongoing vaccination drive, fewer than half of all registered beneficiaries in the Capital have received shots of a coronavirus vaccine, shows state government data.(HT file photo)

In Delhi, 192 centres to vaccinate 60+ and those above 45 with comorbidities

By Abhishek Dey
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:34 AM IST
Of the 192 vaccination sites, 56 are in government hospitals, where the doses will be administered for free, and 136 are in private hospitals, which will charge a maximum of 250 per dose, said a senior government official who asked not to be named.
Close
The Delhi L-G has asked the DDA to discuss the funding for the project with the urban affairs ministry before it is cleared by UTTIPEC, the apex body for traffic and transportation projects in Delhi.(Arvind Yadav/HT file photo)
The Delhi L-G has asked the DDA to discuss the funding for the project with the urban affairs ministry before it is cleared by UTTIPEC, the apex body for traffic and transportation projects in Delhi.(Arvind Yadav/HT file photo)

5,000-crore plan to deal with traffic around redeveloped govt colonies

By Risha Chitlangia
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 02:30 AM IST
Officials said the plan includes a nearly 14-km elevated corridor from INA at Aurobindo Marg to Mahipalpur underpass at National Highway-8 and connecting all the flyovers between Moolchand and Moti Bagh, just before the start of the elevated Metro corridor on the Ring Road.
Close
The traffic police issued 13,802,973 fines in 2020, as against 10,580,249 fines in 2019.(Sunil Ghosh/HT file photo)
The traffic police issued 13,802,973 fines in 2020, as against 10,580,249 fines in 2019.(Sunil Ghosh/HT file photo)

Delhi traffic police to install cameras in 31 locations

UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 02:52 AM IST
By March 31, the traffic police department is looking to increase the number of speed detection cameras at 25 locations. Another six spots will get red-light detection cameras, which are installed at traffic junctions and equipped to record violations such as stop-light jumps, stop-line violations and driving against the flow of traffic.
Close
As per official figures, 59.19% votes were cast in Kalyanpuri, 55.95% in Trilokpuri, 55.60% in Chauhan Bangar, 44.58% in Rohini-C, and 43.23% in Shalimar Bagh (north) wards. (Representative Image)(HT)
As per official figures, 59.19% votes were cast in Kalyanpuri, 55.95% in Trilokpuri, 55.60% in Chauhan Bangar, 44.58% in Rohini-C, and 43.23% in Shalimar Bagh (north) wards. (Representative Image)(HT)

MCD bypolls: AAP, BJP, Congress exude confidence of victory

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 10:14 PM IST
Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and party in-charge for MCD (municipal corporations) affairs Durgesh Pathak said he visited polling booths in various wards and was confident of winning all five wards.
Close
The Switch Delhi campaign was launched by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal earlier this month to promote e-vehicles in Delhi. The campaign is in lines with the government’s long-term plans to reduce air pollution in Delhi.(ANI)
The Switch Delhi campaign was launched by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal earlier this month to promote e-vehicles in Delhi. The campaign is in lines with the government’s long-term plans to reduce air pollution in Delhi.(ANI)

4th week of 'Switch Delhi' campaign to focus on raising awareness among RWAs

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:34 PM IST
The fourth week of the Delhi government's eight-week campaign, which aims at sensitizing every Delhiite about the benefits of switching to electric vehicles, will begin on Monday.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP