By SHUBHAJIT Chakraborty
The excitement of Commonwealth Games seems a gloomy picture for en masse. The work began in 2006 with a considerable high budget of Rs. 22,000 crore. Today after four years, it has touched a whopping Rs. 30,000 crore. The 40 percent increased in budget cost heavily on common men, if not the politicians. The constant increasing demand of improving infrastructure has bestowed a queer realization of government that everything would be achieved if things could be forced to people. And the result is more queerer; steep increase in taxes and roll back crucial subsidies.
Everyone wants to know what went wrong. The state government as usual take shelter under the inflation bug but the ground reality shows a different picture of government sheer mismanagement and authoritative mind set.
The whole planning circled around the Commonwealth Game has gone terribly wrong. The major projects have been delayed primarily the Commonwealth Village, which had a budget of Rs 465 crore in 2004 and now Rs 1400 crore. A large number of apartments are still to be sold and pathetic condition of government forced to buy them off contractors.
Traffic and communication infrastructure budget also saw a grand leap. Its budget for 2004 was Rs 40 crore and in 2010, it has risen to Rs 80 crore. And sarcastically, the common people are quite apprehensive about low floor buses and rather quite furious about the steep rise in bus fairs. An improvement in traffic condition seems a far cry.
There are number of unplanned expenditures such as flyovers, which are altered many times now and then. Second one is streetscaping with a budget of Rs. 1,000 crore that’s also gone haywire.
Naturally, in the light of delays, events planning is also suffering. What was to cost Rs 920 crore in 2004, now has a budget of Rs 2307 crore.
A. K. Walia, Finance Minister of Delhi says, “So many things come at the last moment. For instance, the streetscaping decision.”
The international sporting event was a major breakthrough for the government to improve infrastructure but the mismanagement caused several projects being passed, which have no relation to the games but eating a sizable portion of budget for the Commonwealth. For example, the Burari Redevelopment Project worth 10 crore or a slum rehabilitation project that has started in Patel Nagar.
The government is however, optimist about the recovery of fund through tourism, advertising, broadcast rights and sale of merchandise.
“We are very sure of raising the entire amount and pay it back to the Centre. Our broadcasting rights have been sold for double of what we targeted,” says Lalit Bhanot, Spokesperson, Organising Committee, Commonwealth Games.
A K Roy, NGO Hazard Centre however, is not very optimistic, “After the Asiad Games it took them 25 years to sell off the players’ buildings. It took them 20 years to sell off the Asiad Village. For this games, my guess is it will take them 40 years to break even.”
In between the common public who don’t even know commonwealth involves how many and which countries bear the brunt of selfish motives of government and businessmen.