Sunday, March 8, 2009

2010 Commonwealth Games Badminton Court to be Shifted

2010 Commonwealth GamesShifting a sprawling badminton and squash court, being built for the 2010 Commonwealth games near the Siri Fort indoor stadium here, would be the best solution for saving the greenery in the area, town planner Charles Correa recommended to the Supreme Court Friday.

In his report to a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, the former chairman of Delhi Urban Arts Commission, however, also suggested some alternatives, including amendment in the site plans for the 12.5-acre badminton court, in case it was not possible due to any opposition from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

Correa, who was requested by the apex court Feb 6 to examine whether the badminton and squash court being built near the Siri Fort indoor stadium complex for the Commonwealth games, could be relocated to minimize the damage to the greenery in the area.

The bench has asked Correa to examine the feasibility of relocating the court while examining the objections to the projects, raised by the court-appointed Centrally Empowered Committee.

The court’s panel had objected to the prestigious project worth Rs.1.50 billion (Rs.150 crore) largely on the grounds of large-scale felling of trees and denuding the south Delhi area of its green lungs.

The panel had also objected to the project as it accompanied construction of a 25,000 square meters underground parking lot that, according to police, cannot be allowed to be used during the Games owing to the security concerns of the dignitaries visiting the sports complex on the occasion.

The court has asked Correa if “the building, housing the court, can be relocated - that is, could this work be stopped and started again in far more appropriate location?”

In reply, Correa said in his report: “This would indeed be the best solution. And it could be done if the DDA themselves wanted to do this. But unfortunately the opposite seems to be the case.”

Maintaining that it may be too late now to restart the constriction of a new building all over again at a new location, Correa recommended modification in the building plan.

The badminton court entails an underground parking lot, which was also opposed by senior counsel Harish Salve, assisting the court and representing the panel. During the last hearing he had said that the parking lot eventually looks set to be used for commercial purposes after the Games.

Agreeing with Salve, Correa said the Supreme Court should find ways to prevent the commercial exploitation of the project after the Games.

Salve had also questioned the felling of hundreds of trees to build the badminton court saying the girth of many trees ranges from three feet to 10 feet.

Lamenting the hacking of the trees, Salve had said the forest was so dense in the area barely a few years ago that even during the bright summer noon; the sun would not reach the earth.

Agreeing with Salve, Correa said that though the site plans for the building for badminton and squash court are only for 12.5 acres, the DDA has resorted to felling of trees in 28 acres.

After taking Correa’s report on record, the court adjourned the hearing to March 27.