Sum of all fears

Long before terms like slowdown and recession were in vogue, shoddy planning ensured that our agencies went terribly wrong on budget estimates. Shivani Singh reports. Graphics
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Updated on Feb 21, 2009 02:26 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

- State-of-the-art Games Village with a unique ‘athlete-comfort’ orientation.
- Construction of ‘50’ flyovers by the end of 2008.
- Advertising revenue worth $186 million.
- Games facilities ready for use a year in advance.

These were just some of the promises the government made while successfully bidding for the XIXth Commonwealth Games way back in 2002. With just 589 days to the show, almost every project is behind schedule and out of funds. Most agencies, government and private, involved in planning and organising the Games, have gone horribly wrong on budget estimates and the recent economic downturn has only made things worse. Here's a quick look at the sorry state of affairs.

Roads, flyovers and a ‘world-class’ city

Expenditure: Rs 9,000cr

Shortfall: Rs 3,300 cr

The Delhi government promised an elaborate network of 17 new flyovers, 490 kilometers of pothole-free roads, three renovated games venues, parking space, stainless steel bus shelters and 6,000 low-floor buses besides funding civic bodies for street furniture and the beautification of the city. The State finance minister A.K. Walia said his govt was hoping to invest about Rs 9,000 crore for this.

"With the economic slowdown hitting us hard, we have fallen short by Rs 4,300 crore," Walia told HT. "So we asked the Centre for this in two installments over the next two years. But we only got 1,000 of the Rs 2,000 crore we demanded. The rest is a conditional offer (See interview)." The government's stand: Costs of projects, from planning to commission, have nearly doubled.

Games Village: Suspense Storey

Expenditure: Rs 1,020cr

Shortfall: Rs 350 cr

The DDA failed to recover costs when it built the ’82 Asian Games village, so this time it opted for the public-private partnership model. The developer got land to create apartments in a players' village, which it could sell after the Games to recover costs. The govt. was hoping to raise Rs 528cr from the sale of flats to finance the Games.

But with no funds, developer Emaar MGF instead asked the government for a Rs. 350 crore loan. The DDA has worked out a bailout plan, agreeing to hold one-third of the developer's share on mortgage in lieu of that loan. Urban development secretary M. Ramachandran seemed positive that the bailout would put the project back on track. “The loan amount will go out of the DDA's budget and the agency can sell the flats later,” he said.

Delhi Airport: Yet to gain height

Expenditure: Rs 8,975cr

Shortfall: Rs 1,827cr

Delhi Airport was in for a major revamp ahead of 2010. This included the upgradation of a terminal dating back to World War II days, the construction of a brand new runway and an integrated new terminal for domestic and international traffic. But after DIAL hit a liquidity crunch, the govt had to step in, allowing the consortium to levy an Airport Development Fee from Mar 1 for the next 36 months. A release from the Civil Aviation ministry said they had no option as "all other funding options appeared to have been exhausted".

Unaccounted expenditure

Overlays: Rs 400cr (no allocation yet)

The Games Organising Committee is yet to come up with a plan for the overlays (temporary facilities like seating arrangements, timers, PA systems) at different stadiums. “This would require Rs 400-500cr. We need to make an estimate this and arrange necessary funds,” said Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta. It goes on.


    Shivani Singh leads the Delhi Metro team for Hindustan Times. A journalist for two decades, she writes about cities and urban concerns. She has reported extensively on issues of governance, administrative and social reforms, and education.

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