By Anirudh Madhavan:
The third largest multi-sport event of the world meets the largest democracy in the world, or does it? This hotly contested debate has managed to capture quite a few eyeballs in the recent days and a major embarrassment on the international stage is on the cards. According to a popular opinion poll, 94 percent people in India feel that the government is most likely to drown in a pool of shame.
Here are just a few examples to cite the inefficiency of the government and the OC —
1) India’s bid document for the Commonwealth Games in 2003 estimated the cost of hosting the event at Rs 1,899 crore. Since then the cost has escalated or rather sky-rocketed to a mind boggling Rs 30,000 crore.
2) July 31-The deadline for completion of the digging work in an around the city set by Sheila Dikshit has been flouted with and the holes continue to flood the roads.
3) The government has had to rope in private agencies to clear the roads of the heaps of debris.
4) There are still no proper guidelines to check hygiene levels in various restaurants in the city.
The list of ineptitude is longer than the proposed metro train route and we’ll be best served not to go any deeper. The various agencies looking into matters like refurnishing of roads and laying down cables are seemingly at odds and this has in turn affected the works. Some sort of ego clash has cropped up and some people even liken it to the Indo-Pak cross border clash. Another bizarre scenario that has surfaced is the inability of the government to kick-off the green campaign due to the excessive rubble accumulated on the streets. The government was originally supposed to plant various flowers and trees but as the situation stands, there won’t be any ‘painting green’ anytime soon. A voluntary organization by the name of ‘equations’ has come out with a report which clearly rubbishes the government proposal of 40,000 rooms to accommodate tourists. It cites media reports from 1982 to claim that a mere 200 foreign tourists turned up for the Asian games and going by this trend, not many are expected. The absence of crowd pullers like Usain Bolt and Samantha Stosur also take off the sheen of the event.
All these matters set apart; the match that stole the show was the recent spat between Member of Parliament and ex-sports minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar and the chairman of the sports organizing committee, Suresh Kalmadi. The torrent of verbal assaults that rained down on Kalmadi helped to open up a can of worms and now after the media has taken over, speculations about the bids being rigged are starting to find a backbone. In the words of Aiyar and I quote “I am happy with the rains…it will ensure the games are spoilt. If we would have spent Rs35,000 cr in providing training to children, we would have won medals in every sport”. Kalmadi’s retaliation to this came soon after and I quote “things are on track, the stadiums have been built. If Mani Shankar Aiyar had continued to be sports minister, probably we wouldn’t have seen these stadiums”. Aiyar is biding his time and has promised to comment on the issue on the 15th of October.
The venues which have been handed over to the OC include DU’s rugby competition venue and the grandstands, the Thyagaraja stadium and the Talkatora indoor stadium. While the likes of the Siri fort and the Yamuna sports complex are under inspection, still others like the Karni Singh Shooting Range, Major Dhyana Chand stadium and the SP Mukherjee, Jawaharlal Nehru stadium are still to be handed over. The CVC has asked the CBI to register a case of corruption against certain MCD officials regarding irregularities in the tender issued for the commonwealth games. The profit of the contractors is stated to be around Rs 20 cr.
All the above mentioned issues deal with the laxity of the government towards the games and point towards an eminent disaster. Regardless of the outcome, it’s a win-win situation for the government which has already pocketed its “fair” share. As a proud Indian citizen I do sincerely hope that the games are conducted smoothly and I think it’s safe to conclude that the government has emerged the greatest “player” in this case.
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.