Commonwealth Catastrophe? Construction Continues in Delhi
On October 3rd Delhi will host one of the largest events of the sporting calender, the Commonwealth Games. With days left to go, I think it’s fair to say THEY’RE IN TROUBLE! The city of Delhi is a gigantic building site. Construction is EVERYWHERE!! Hotels, roads, train stations, airports, metro lines, parks, stadiums… you name it, it’s under construction, & the goal is to be finished BEFORE for the games begin. It is extremely difficult to see how that will be possible given the current state of affairs in Delhi’s infrastructure.
Pahar Ganj Main Bazaar is one of the top tourist spots for accommodation. With this in mind, officials decided it would be nicer if the road was wider to allow an easier flow of traffic & more space for toursits to walk safely. Sssoooo,… ALL of the buildings lining this busy street have had the front of them ripped off, due to illegal occupation of the land. Around 3-5 feet off the front of EVERY building torn down, bearing the grungy insides & metal framework. To make matters worse, the road itself has been dug up leaving a muddy cespool, rampant with Dengue fever. Bare in mind, this is less than TWO WEEKS before the Commonwealth Games begin!
Hotels in other areas are also still under construction despite guests being booked into these building sites… & by under construction, for the most part, I’m not referring to minor interior details but an actual lack of walls & floors!
Major roads have been torn up with a plan to relay them with improved, smooth tarmac. BUT, they remain dirt roads with horrendous potholes & puddles, in worse condition than they were in before. Delhi is also currently at the tail end of a pretty bad monsoon season & the drainage problems are absurd. While driving around the city, the flooding had reached a few feet deep & was seaping through the car doors of our taxi.
City officials also sought after the extension of Delhi’s metro line… a wise decision given the influx of tourists they’re expecting. BUT, stations are yet to be completed, tracks are unlayed & many of the newer lines are yet to be tested. To add to concerns, part of a new line collapsed some weeks ago after Indian engineers took over from a German contractor. More recently, a foot bridge collapsed near the Games’ main venue & part of the ceiling at the weightlifting venue also fell through killing 27 people! Shivaji Stadium was set to be used as a practice venue for athletes… it isn’t even close to completion & the organising committee has all but given up on the facility being ready in time.
To the usual steady flow of backpackers who sweep in & out of Delhi these conditions are not too new or unnerving, but for the tourists expected for an event like the Commonwealth Games the situation will be unacceptable. I truly hope India can pull off the Games & encourage more toursim to this fascinating country, but I will be amazed if they manage it, & I fear it is much more likely the 2010 Commonwealth Games will be disasterous. Athletes are expected to arrive today, but coutries & athletes are already delaying or cancelling their participation, & given the current situation in the capital it would be difficult to ridicule their presumptive pull outs.
We shall see…