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The mess of the CommonWealth Games – grin and bear it ?




The mess related to the Commonwealth Games is now reaching a feverish pitch. There are just a few days left for the actual opening of the games, but the early contingent of delegates and officials from many countries are already here, and athletes from a number of countries are also expected to arrive within the next few days. So, one would expect everything to be ready and waiting for them, right ? Well, the sad reality is that we are pretty far away. A lot of the infrastructure work that was supposed to happen and complete in the months previous to the actual starting of the games did happen and get completed in time for the Commonwealth Games opening, but this was after a lot of pressure and concern. And the sad part is that some of the infrastructure is still not complete, or that the efforts put in to accelerate the completion of these projects could result in quality issues (manifested in some issues where we hear about false ceilings of stadium collapsing, or the pedestrian bridge near the Jawaharlal Lal Nehru stadium collapsing, or water leakages in the various stadium).

However, the biggest problems is in the village where the athletes and the delegates are to be housed. It was planned to be on the flood plain of the Yamuna, something that the decision makers would have known would lead to challenges (and it happened where the environmental issues lead to court challenges and that delayed the start of the construction). Further, there were issues about the builder of the flats running into money issues, something that needed to be settled. However, that is what we have oversight committees for, that is why there is an Organizational committee, as well as a State Government and a central Government (both of whom would be mindful that this has the potential to be a public relations disaster or a showcase of the achievements of the Indian economy).
However, the effect has been like an unmitigated disaster. The Games village was late in construction, and the furnishings of the village for the many inhabitants during the Games are not ready (some parts of the village are, some not). As a result, many of the advance delegations have found many issues while inspecting the village, such as bad plumbing, dirty rooms, unfinished construction, water pooling everywhere, and something that seems very repugnant, excreta in many of the areas (where labour used the rooms for their hygiene, and given that there were not enough facilities for them, they used the rooms for this purpose). Even worse, when the rooms were shown for inspection, there was apparently not a pre-check done to ensure that the rooms were in a good conditions.
Now, the preparation for the Games is an international joke, with some postulation that the bad condition of the preparation (even though most of the sites are ready, just some amount of bad news is bad enough) will help in killing off the concept of the Commonwealth Games.
Now, the Prime Minister has called the various officialdom for meeting, but this is like, too little too late. The PM had long ago setup an oversight committee that apparently did not meet, and thus was not very useful. The public perception of the Games is that this was the biggest public loot of money by the various officials, and there will not be any detailed inspection done later. Public perception of the Games right now is at an all time low, and it will take for some real hard work over the next 2-3 days to save the Games.




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