With only a few days left for the commonwealth games euphoria to begin, the capital is still under last minute clean up. A clean up which is not only restrained to debris of the city but also to the makers of this so-called “global”& “world-class” city. It’s been 7 years to the bid that concluded with Delhi chosen as the venue for the commonwealth games 2010. But looking at the preparations, it seems as if we have been hibernating all these years. So far, the city has dealt with a lot of censure from all sides. Be it about the infrastructure, transport, security or the mastery of the officials. The aim of my article here is not to disbelieve the ability of Delhi to hold such exalted games but to share a few facts on the height of corruption practiced and secreted in our country. Facts, I personally dealt with or came across over the period of time. From the very “original” Astroturf grass in the stadiums to the pockets of the officials, everything carries a mark of corruption, frivolity & ignorance. A mere round around the metropolis will be enough to establish how much ‘dilli hai tayyar’ for the upcoming event.

From the beginning, the commonwealth games project has promised a new epoch in Delhi’s account, employment opportunities, volunteership, intensifying sporting spirit in the country and facilities that’ll touch every inhabitant of the city. But by far, it all seems a far-flung dream.

In the name of employment, workers have been exploited. They have only been paid 1/3rd of the wage promised. The unhealthy conditions at the construction sites have led to untimely deaths of workers and the mistreatment still continues. About 40,000 volunteers were promised a task in the games but so far only 22,000 have been allotted the work. Rest were never registered or informed about their status quo despite a month long training and qualifying exam conducted for short listing the deserving candidates. The issue has still not been raised let alone assuring students a place in the games. As far as the plight of the students currently volunteering at chief venues is concerned, only they’ll be able to tell it best. I wonder what did the OC had in mind while announcing a post games party for all the volunteers when giving incentives to volunteers.

The much awaited sporting essence seems to be dying down much before the commencement of the event. With most of the world famous athletes opting out, unhappiness of the Indian athletes over the preparations and many athletes failing the doping test recently, the city might miss the cheers from its people. Comparing with the vuvuzela roar of South Africans in FIFA’10, Delhiites holdup far behind in showcasing their keyed up spirit. Well, the reason doesn’t lie in India’s languid & robotic nature but with the much hyped statistics of corruption and the amount of money dumped in unnecessary constructions. Getting a closer look at these constructions we find public toilets with automated doors and split A/Cs. These are single-storeyed buildings including a coffee shop and a florist standing upright with MCD notices hung straight, apologizing for the service remaining unavailable. About hundreds of such structures are planned and are probably accompanied by the hundreds of the above mentioned notices also. The list doesn’t end here.

The feet over bridges erected all over the city are futile. They carry more than thirty stairs each side with no escalator facility for the disabled. Why would one even prefer climbing up such bridges over crossing roads which we are matchless at?  A huge sum of money has been wasted on these. A lot of stuff has been rented on thrice the amount of its cost. Even then the equipments are not up to the required standards. Wouldn’t that be called the mastery of the masters? About umpteen times the estimated amount has been spent on games and the work is still not up to the mark. If the same money would have been utilized for the training of our athletes, India would have at least made it to the list of top sporting nations. But now, in spite of such huge expenditure our ability as an organizer is also in doubt.

The BRT in the city is serviceable at a few places but with onset of the games they have been made functional at more places now. A city where public transport is considered the last option to travel in. How do you expect the failed BRT system to help with smooth running traffic and connectivity during the games?

All the major flyovers, specially the Barapullah one are being completed at the last moment which makes safe commuting one of the biggest issues.
The whole of the city is still lying naked and dug up with a large number of people who have been displaced in the wake of commonwealth games. Monsoons are on an all time high. An hour long rain submerges the city roads, underpasses, bridges and waterlogs areas in and around the games venues. It makes it unimaginable to travel around the capital. Even after a month heavy downpour, we still haven’t thought of tackling the rains that are expected to prolong till the month of October. Delhi has been hit by a number of water borne diseases which have still not been taken care of. There might be travel advisories being issued for the same, have we thought of dealing with the shame associated with it?

Crores of money has been spent on the games, only a certain part of which is used for basic sports infrastructure. Rest is ruined in buying an Rs35 toilet roll at a cost of Rs4, 138, a treadmill originally of Rs7 lakh is rented at Rs9.75 lakh, each chair has been rented at Rs8, 378 and a 100-litre refrigerator is lent for a shocking Rs42, 202.
I doubt if the success of the event will be able to fill up these potholes. So let’s just keep our fingers crossed and hope that the greed of some doesn’t become woes of a billion.

Shelly Mahajan

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