Sunday, 13 September 2009

Will Delhi be ready for the 2010 Commonwealth Games?

According to a leaked government report in India this may not be the case, reports the Times of India:
"In what could bring huge embarrassment to the country, key Commonwealth Games (CWG) projects - including games venues, infrastructure for conducting the sports and major city upgrade plans - are running so much behind schedule that there's a real threat of India's showpiece Games turning into a non-event.

The Comptroller and Auditor General, which early this month submitted an evaluation report to the Prime Minister's Office and the sports ministry, has observed that in at least 13 of the 19 sporting venues, the work shortfall is between 25% and 50%. This means all these projects would either miss the deadline or compromise on quality in the haste to finish on time.

That's not all. Sources quoting the report said the Delhi government and some central agencies executing Games-related projects have officially shelved at least six infrastructure projects by delinking them from the Commonwealth Games.

Though the delinked projects are flyovers and bridges that could at best clog up traffic and hamper timely conduct of events, what could actually result in the Games being shifted elsewhere is the organizers' inability to complete sports venues even in the extended timeframe. As per international guidelines, all CWG projects were to be completed by May 2009 and the last year should have been kept for trial runs.

Far from that, sources quoting the CAG report said in the case of Jawaharlal Nehru stadium - the main venue of the Games - even the final designs were yet to be frozen. Authorities executing the projects hadn't received layout details for LAN, CCTV, broadcasting overlays, video screens, scoreboards and signages etc.

The evaluation report says these details, as well as the type of track and turf to be used, were required to be submitted in October 2008. Instead, these have been received by CPWD only recently. The location and the requirements for the photo finish room at JLN Stadium were finalized by the organizing committee as late as May 2009.

Meanwhile, the all-too-familiar finger-pointing is on. CPWD, the project executing agency, has blamed the organizing committee and its consultants for delaying the projects by constantly revising and re-revising designs for every venue, sources said."
This is so typical of the state of affairs in India today. To undertake any major project, there are a countless number of delays and objections, that by the time something is completed, it is either too late or there is a need for something even better. You would have thought seven years is sufficient time to prepare for these games, but not in India.

Contrast India’s struggling attempts to host the event and China’s highly successful running of the Olympics last year. Whether construction work will be completed before the start of the 2010 Commonwealth Games is anyone's guess. Even if the government pulls out all the stops to complete construction, there is no guarantee quality won't be compromised. One way or another, it seems India may not be spared the blushes.

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