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Friday, 6 August 2010

INDIAN NIGHTMARE: XIX COMMONWEALTH GAMES

The fact that India will be hosting the nineteenth Commonwealth Games in the month of October is nothing new. This is something that the entire country is proud of & has been since the very day this announcement was made. However to sustain this pride, India was expected to work & work hard. Various ambitious plans were laid down on paper, lavish budgets sanctioned for each & promises made to bring the infrastructure in Delhi at par with the international standards. There is no denying the fact that like most of my fellow citizens, I had all the faith in the Sports Authority of India (SAI), the Organising Committee (OC) & the Delhi Government. Yet another fact that can’t be denied is that the same faith is NOW dwindling.

 


Of late hardly any good news has poured in regarding the Games. Allegations & counter-allegations are flying around & they don’t seem to be ceasing anytime soon. The deadlines for completion of various projects have been extended time & again & the latest is 31st August. In order to paint a tranquil picture of the Games preparations, venues which aren’t ready yet have been inaugurated. A case in point is that of the recent inauguration of the weightlifting auditorium of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium complex. This auditorium was made at a whopping cost of Rs. 80 cr. & had leakage at the very time of the inauguration. Despite there being no lack of funds some of the ‘world class’ venues have already started falling apart. In the month of July, roofs of two under construction stadia gave away during rains.


In order to provide the much needed impetus to the snail paced Games work, Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit deviced a plan which is anything but fool-proof. She announced that the contractors who will not be able to finish their share of work by 31st august will be blacklisted. But I wonder how far this will be successful. No doubt people will work faster but this poses a great threat to the durability of the work. We already have the structures falling apart & with the threat of being blacklisted looming large on the heads of the contractors, compromises will be made with regard to the quality & attention to detail factors.


As if the super slow pace of work was not enough to shoot people’s blood pressure, next came the corruption charges against the Organising Committee. It has been alleged that OC made improper payments to AM Cars & Vans- a UK based company. However OC’s Chairman Suresh Kalmadi claims that no payments were made & the firm was recommended by Indian High Commission in London. Now the truth remains to be unearthed. Another issue that brings to light the misuse of taxpayers’ money is that training equipment & various other things have been rented & brought at insanely high prices. Can you imagine a treadmill being rented for an exorbitant Rs. 10 lakhs or a towel being brought for Rs. 4,000? It seems as if the government has vowed to use up every single penny of the budget, even if that means wasting money.


Indeed these things need to be looked into but ‘right now’ may not be such a good time. I feel that the BJP has made noise about something worthwhile in a long time. However it’s timing could have been better. What the political parties need to understand is that when people from various parts of the world will come for the Games, they won’t differentiate between the BJP led Opposition & the Congress led UPA. For them it will be India & Indians who could not get their act together while there was still time. Likewise if the Games are a success then the visitors will praise the efforts made by India & not Sheila Dikshit/Sonia Gandhi or Vijay Kumar Malhotra/Nitin Gadkari.


Games & politics should not be mixed as it will only create more hurdles. The Central Vigilance Commission must conduct a meticulous probe into all the irregularities once the Games are over & in the meantime it’s the ‘common’ good that should be aimed for & not ‘personal’ good.


P.S. - Here’s hoping that we put up a great show in October & are not even remotely embarrassed.