The government says that, the objective behind getting the games here was to showcase Delhi as an international city (as termed by the Home Minister) people across the globe should see that how Delhi has developed over the decades.
I STILL remember an article in a leading English newspaper in late 2003, which appreciated the efforts of the government for getting the Commonwealth Games to Delhi, as it had won the bid in Jamaica. Though the state government started the preparation in 2004, but lately I actually forgot the term CWG, and it was only a year back, that the newspapers and online news websites starting buzzing about it.
I wonder where they were from past six years. Everyday I watch the TV news channels smearing the Delhi government whenever they see a open manhole on the footpath, or a waterlogged road. Till now everything seems to be messy, whether it is BRT, Cannaught Place or Greater Kailash, the preparation has hit the people hard, the construction in Delhi means traffic, traffic = loss of time, and that in turn means loss of money. That is why people now try their best to avoid these routes.
The government says that, the objective behind getting the games here was to showcase Delhi as an international city (as termed by the Home Minister) people across the globe should see that how Delhi has developed over the decades (lets say over the months), how the infrastructure has improved (lets say construction has taken place).And when I discuss this issue with people, I get mixed response, some say that the city is becoming better, on the other hand, some people think that it is just a waste of money. But I am looking at the bigger picture, I believe that such events should take place, on the same time I am against event based development. The important issue is that how these games can create an improved long term infrastructure for the city, as I am very hopeful that after event we will again see vendors on the footpath, the beggars on the streets, water logging during monsoons, water and electricity crisis during summers, and regular traffic jams on the road.
But if I only talk about the elite and the middle class I will selfishly be ignorant to those who form the 70 per cent majority in Delhi, ie, those who are living illegally in the city, with more than 1100 slums and 1700 unauthorised colonies, I see Delhi still short of an international city. What makes me more sad is that how can the governemt spend Rs 100 crores on the roof of a stadium and completely forget the fact that thousands of people live in Delhi without a roof, when hundreds of people die every year not because of accidents or diseases but because of heat and cold wave. That is why I along with my team mates from United Volunteer Association (UVA) took this initiative of presenting petition to every MLA of the Delhi Legislative Assembly, which was related to giving some financial and social assistance to the underprivileged (ie, establishment of a fund for construction of houses for the sum dwellers). Imagine the entire Delhi becoming more clean, educated, and healthier and more livable with the same amount which is being spent on the 11 day event.
Even the politicians gave mixed reviews, but it was surprising for me when some of the Congress MLA’s smeared the Chief Minister, but also conveyed their inability to do anything as far as this issue was concerned, as a rift with the CM could cost them their seat. On the other hand, the Opposition was unexpectedly keeping quiet, partly because the fact that the leader of Opposition is in the organising committee and partly because of the fact that it was the NDA government which had actually went for the bidding. But I still feel that the opposition should have taken on the government on this issue, as it is very closely related to the people not only of the city but of the entire country.
Last month I met the ex-president of Delhi Congress and the MLA from Kalkaji Subhash Chopra, being a head of the committee which is looking after the preparations in South Delhi, he gave us very crucial information which no other MLA could, he told us that out of the total expenditure almost 90 per cent has been provided to the Delhi government by the Centre. This came as a shock to me because Delhi government has been increasing taxes on various essential commodities, also on property and fuel which in turn has led to the increase in food prices, just for the sake of CWG, but if the Centre was providing them with money, then where was the money of city’s taxpayer? The government is making everything more complex and confusing not only for itself but for the people also. I also see the government defending itself when it starts counting the number of new metro lines being started, number of flyovers and roads being constructed, but I want to put this very clear: “Do we really need games for development?” In my opinion, as a state becomes more populous, its demand also augments, all this work had to be done looking at the constantly increasing population.
Unfortunately, now its too late for the government to take necessary measures, the priority of the CM is to make sure that Delhi looks better and cleaner, with no traffic on the roads, and covering the dirty areas with green cloth. It seems to me that, ‘aal izz well’ concept is still the tagline of this government.