Tuesday, December 29, 2009

As 2009 is passing bye where are we?

2010 Commonwealth Games stint with year 2009

With the successful hosting of Beijing Olympics, China showed to the world that the dragon had arrived, ready to take on the best. Its close competitor, India, too aspires to do the same by making Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010 in the capital a grand affair to showcase the giant strides of the elephant.

But is it going to be a close call? When tardy preparations for a mega sporting extravaganza are likened to making arrangements for a daughter’s wedding, you know for sure that there desperation in the air. No wonder, deadlines and delays were the most common words that echoed in the office of Commonwealth Games 2010 Organizing Committee (OC) in 2009.

If bureaucratic red tape was not enough, global meltdown too played its part in delaying the 2010 projects. The saga started in May when Emaar MGF, the developers for the Games Village, announced that recession had hit them hard. Work was stopped as local sub-contractors alleged they hadn’t been paid for months by Emaar MGF. Left with no option, the Delhi Development Authority the land-owning agency handed over a Rs 700-crore bailout.

But that wasn’t the end of troubles. A month later, the schedule for the test events for the Games were announced a bolt from the blue for most of the construction agencies as work on most projects such as the Cycling Velodrome at the Indira Gandhi Stadium and Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range had barely started.

Amid rising concerns over deadlines, the OC came out with conflicting statements. While OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi claimed work was going on in full swing and that deadlines of September and November 2009 would be kept, OC vice-chairperson Randhir Singh admitted that ‘‘some’’ deadlines would be missed. An internal report by the OC’s international consultant, EKF, too stated that most venues would miss deadlines.

The shocker, however, came on September 14 when a letter written to the PM by CWG Federation chief Michael Fennell was leaked to the media. The letter, which came down heavily on the OC’s lack of preparations and warned that the Games could witness ‘‘partial failure’’, shook not only OC out of complacency but also stirred the public to a spectacle of a possible failure. The letter prompted the government to put sports minister MS Gill on the job even as the PM himself assured the CGF of making the Games a grand event.

It wasn’t the end of woes for the OC. The general assembly held in October turned out to be a disaster with Fennell again expressing displeasure: “ There are particular concerns across all operational areas.” The CGF recommended setting up of a technical overview committee to oversee the preparations even as it decreed: ‘‘We can’t afford any more slippages.’’

Kalmadi, inimitably, retaliated by demanding that the CGF repatriate Mike Hooper, the CGF representative in India. The OC chief launched a frontal attack on the CGF by calling Mike Hooper’s two-year stint with the OC as ‘‘useless’’ and an ‘‘impediment’’. Fennell replied by refusing to sack Hooper. Even as the OC was busy allaying fears, the DDA went ahead and sacked the contractor responsible for developing the practice areas in the Games Village for delays. Meanwhile, other construction agencies such as CPWD, PWD and the MCD maintained that deadlines would be met. By now though, the OC said that deadlines had been shifted from December 2009 to March 2010.

On December 14, the co-ordination commission, which had come for a review, said that while progress had been made, further delay in venue delivery of two major stadia Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and SP Mukherjee swimming complex was worrying. Their deadlines had been shifted to June 2010, too near the Games dates to be comforting. The OC reacted by promising that ‘‘these’’ deadlines would be met. With less than 10 months to go for the Games, it’s one promise that the OC cannot afford to break anymore.

The Commonwealth Games is held every 4 years 71 countries take part in the sporting extravaganza, which was held for the first time in 1930 Delhi wins bid for the Games in 2003 Games to be held in October 2010


May 7, 2009 | DDA forced to bail out Emaar MGF in the Games Village project due to recession

June 20 | Test events announced for various venues in the backdrop of many competition venues facing the possibility of missing deadlines

Sept 13 | Letter to PM from CGF chief Michael Fennell lambasting preparations leaked

Oct 8-12 | Fennell says CGF unhappy and Games could be in jeopardy

Oct 14 | Kalmadi asks for Mike Hooper, CGF CEO’s repatriation, request turned down

Dec 23 | Panel says progress better but venue delay worrying


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