For any recent price hike, the government seeks refuge in only one reason fund crunch for the Commonwealth Games. Even as Delhiites may be paying a price for the sporting extravaganza, the government has failed to curb escalating costs of the Games-related projects.
A look at the funds spent for the construction and upgrade of stadiums and training venues indicates that the Games are proving to be an expensive affair. The works saw a cost escalation of 2160% over seven years from a meager Rs 150 crore to a whopping Rs 3,431.4 crore.
If stadium costs have gone through the roof, beautification projects too seem to have taken a toll. Estimates show that hundreds of crore have already been spent. The fact sheet on infrastructure and beautification projects for the Games released by Housing and Land Rights Network on Thursday shows that India’s bid document for the Games budgeted Rs 7.5 crore for beautification. But now even one beautification project is costing more than Rs 7.5 crore. For instance in August 2009, NDMC announced plans of planting 10 lakh saplings at a cost of Rs 23.2 crore to add color to the Games venues.
Beautification is not only incurring financial cost but also a human cost. ‘‘Slums are being demolished without any rehabilitation plan. Homeless are being evicted and beggars arrested. Livelihoods of hawkers and vendors have been taken away. The public has been inconvenienced due to digging of the streets and pavements,’’ the report points.
While beautification has cost the government a huge amount, work at non-competition venues to is proving to be costly. ‘‘The Commonwealth Games Village is being constructed by Emaar MGF at a cost of Rs 1038 crore. In May 2009, the DDA announced a Rs 700crore bailout package for Emaar MGF, the first such bailout for a realty company,’’ the reports adds.
Add to it the rent CWG Organizing Committee pays for its headquarters in central Delhi to NDMC. ‘‘The budget for rent for the OC Headquarters Rs 5.6 crore per month which was not accounted for initially, is reported to be Rs 175 crore,’’ the factsheet states.
However, the report doesn’t dwell much on infrastructure projects related to the Games though some figures are highlighted. ‘‘Initially, Rs 770 crore was earmarked for development of infrastructure. The state, however, allocated a Rs 1189 crore to enhance, expand and upgrade city infrastructure. A CAG report in 2009 estimated the cost of creating venues and infrastructure and operational expenses at Rs 12,888 crore,’’ the fact sheet states.
Releasing the report, former Delhi high court chief Justice AP Shah said: ‘‘Delhi, of late, has seen a spate of demolitions and evictions. In some cases, evictions have been carried out in the name of beautification projects. The urban poor are being deprived of their rights.’’
Citing the example of demolition of a night shelter in Pusa Road, he said: ‘‘Leaving people to die in open sky on a cold night is the grossest violation of human rights. The right to shelter is as important as the right to livelihood.’’
Splurging On Sports
The Infrastructure Story
Initially, Delhi government had earmarked Rs 770 cr for infrastructure development
But, later it allocated Rs 1,189cr for the sector
On August 3, 2006 Delhi finance minister AK Walia said that the infrastructure budget would be Rs 26,808cr
2009 CAG report put estimated cost of creating venues, infrastructure and operational expenses at Rs 12,888 cr
On March 10 this year, the govt said that Rs 13,350cr was spent in the past three years on infrastructure
Price Of Beautification
India’s bid document for Games budgeted Rs 7.5cr for city beautification
But the government is spending Rs 344cr on it
In August 2009, NDMC announced plans to plant 10 lakh saplings for Rs 23.2cr
Streetscaping on Lodhi Road and Jagannath Marg to cost Rs 18.55cr and Rs 3.40cr (approx) respectively