Infrastructure built at great cost for the 2010 Commonwealth Games is deteriorating and unfit for athletes. Abhishek Bhalla reports
CREATION OF a long-lasting legacy of sports infrastructure was just one of the stated objectives of the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG), a justification for the rocketing of the total budget from Rs 400 crore in 2003 to a staggering Rs 28,000 crore in 2009. Then Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy had announced prior to the Games that the money spent on infrastructure will be the country’s proud legacy.
Accordingly, Rs 3,972 crore was spent on sporting infrastructure. But the Shunglu Committee, appointed by the prime minister to look into CWG irregularities, stated, “It is evident that no planning was done by the authorities concerned for legacy use and maintenance of these venues after the Games.”
A year after the event, TEHELKA’s status check on various stadia reveals that the sporting infrastructure is fast corroding due to lack of use and poor maintenance, reducing the world-class infrastructure to mere exhibits. Days after TEHELKA sent queries to Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken regarding the matter, the ministry announced (in December 2011) that the stadia owned by the state are open to schools, colleges, societies and federations at nominal charges. “It has now been decided to open these complexes for sporting activities and a detailed tariff structure has been finalised, which is available on the website of the Sports Authority of India,” he said. Although the sports ministry has reduced the tariff, other agencies like the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Delhi government are still to make amendments.
The Shunglu Committee had recommended in April 2011 that the sports ministry set up a system for regular inspection and monitoring of the facilities. This has not been put in practice due to the infighting and lack of coordination among agencies. “There is a need for a nodal agency but the ministry cannot dictate terms to the Delhi government or DDA. They are independent agencies and don’t like ministry’s involvement,” said a ministry official.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit agrees. “Multiple agencies are working at maintaining the infrastructure. This multiplicity has to be done away with. After the Games, we have the entire infrastructure to project Delhi as a major sporting city but it requires a coordinated effort,” she says.
ARVIND PANWAR, 21, dreams of winning the Olympic gold in cycling for India. But for his dream to come true, he has to train on state-of-the-art facilities. He is eyeing Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Velodrome made of Siberian pinewood. But it remains out of bounds.
Ranked as a top-class track by the International Cycling Union, the velodrome was renovated at a cost of Rs 153 crore for the Commonwealth Games but has never been used since. “We thought: Now we have world-class facilities, our lives will change. But nothing has changed post-Games,” says Panwar, after a hard day’s training on cement tracks in Patiala. “It is shocking that we cannot use facilities created at such high costs.”
Sports Authority of India officials claim that the high running costs of more than Rs 5 crore a year has deterred them from allowing training on this expensive track.
THE TIME scoring result (TSR) system at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium went blank at the South Asian Federation Football championship held in New Delhi last month. The high-tech scoreboard was procured at an inflated price of Rs 135.27 crore. In contrast, the same system was bought at a cost of Rs 39.84 crore for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
An official from the Sports Authority of India, who did not want to be named, blamed it on the software. “The software needs to be changed and that cost would run into crores. We have found a temporary solution to the problem but there is no guarantee of smooth functioning for long,” he says.
The CBI has filed a chargesheet in the TSR scam, causing a loss of Rs 90 crore. The Comptroller and Auditor General, the highest audit body, says there were deficiencies in the system and it was never tested in trials or real-time events.
THIS BRAND new stadium hosted the netball event and was a training venue for athletics. The stadium owned by the Delhi government is still not open to the public. On enquiry, the reason cited was “some administrative problems”. Two big halls that can be used for badminton and table tennis lie in complete darkness.
The tennis court hardly resembled one. An official informed that it was constructed in a hurry for the CWG. It was of poor quality and ill-conceived. “During rains, it gets flooded,” remarked a caretaker at the stadium, unwilling to be quoted. While the tennis courts are being redone now, even the athletics track looks dilapidated.
TEHELKA also learnt that the solar power plant and dual fuel gas turbine procured for Rs 33 crore to reduce electricity consumption in the stadium are not in use.
WHILE THE cycling federation is trying to convince the ministry to open an international academy here, the gymnasts are stranded. The gymnastics federation complains that recently the girls’ camp scheduled here was abruptly called off. “When the camp was cancelled without notice, we were not even provided an alternative. This, when the team was training for an international tournament,” said Kaushik Bidiwala, general secretary of the federation. Coach Devinder Rathore says the stadium is designed in such a way that it can only be used for competitions. “It does not even have a training pit, a basic requirement for training,” he adds.
THE TRAINING venue for hockey missed the Commonwealth Games deadline and is still a work in progress. TEHELKA has learnt that the CWG Organising Committee went against the advice of the consultants to not use the stadium as it needed a major facelift and also because it was far from other venues. Even the Shunglu Committee report says that the stadium’s renovation was unnecessary and without a legacy use.
THE SWIMMING pool is not in use here, as the heating system has failed. The complex was the venue for badminton and squash. It was also used as a training venue for tennis and aquatics. The huge amount spent on the renovation is not reflected in the quality of construction. Just before the Games, the roof was found leaking. A temporary arrangement was made. Till date, a permanent solution has not been found.
According to the Shunglu Committee report, there were major irregularities in the execution of the project. “There was irregularity in appointing the consultant and this caused a loss of Rs 12.29 crore,” it says.
THE YAMUNA Sports Complex was the venue for the archery competition and a training base for swimming, lawn bowls and gymnastics. Now, the pool is dry, clearly unused for months. High-quality heating systems worth Rs 10 crore are non-functional. According to the original site map, there was to be another pool, for which money was sanctioned. But it was never constructed.
The lawn bowls field is unused, as it is not a priority sport in India. There is no plan to use it for an alternative sport either.
The archery venue, according to the legacy plan, was to be turned into a cricket ground. There are no visible signs of a pitch on the uneven field. It mostly lies vacant, with even the archery federation unable to afford its use.
“We can’t hold camps there as we have to pay about Rs 1 lakh a day to the Delhi Development Authority,” said Paresh Nath Mukherjee, general secretary of the federation. “We had also told them way back in 2006 that this field would not meet the requirements of the sport. It’s a sheer waste of money.”
The basketball court is in shambles. In some cases the hoops are missing, while in others the nets are torn. With rubble lining the court, it resembles a dumping ground.