Delhi’s infrastructure will get an overhaul. There will be better roads, power and water supply. The legacy value of the city, too, will get a fillip,” asserts Rakesh Mehta, Chief Secretary, Delhi government. He is counting the benefits to citizens, courtesy the Commonwealth Games, which are to be held from October 3-14, 2010.Mehta is sitting in his cavernous office, in what is known as the Players Building. The structure was meant to house the athletes who participated in the 1982 Asiad Games in Delhi, but wasn’t finished in time. It remained abandoned till the Sheila Dixit government moved the Secretariat here. As Mehta and his team gear up for Delhi’s next tryst with another mega sporting event, concerns abound whether the city would have the infrastructure required in place well in time. Mehta, however, is quick to assure that the mammoth plans and preparations are on as scheduled.
On paper, huge allocations have been made to give Delhi a facelift. The Delhi government’s budget over the last few years has seen an increase of Rs 1,000 crore per annum due to the Games. It estimates projects to the tune of Rs 46,000 crore are directly related to the Games. Various Central government ministries, ranging from Sports, Tourism, Housing to Urban Development, too, are involved in the exercise. The Centre expects to spend nearly Rs 9,800 crore on the Games, including a soft loan.Globally, mega events like the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games go a long way in giving a makeover to the host cities—basic infrastructure of the city is completely revamped and raises its global profile. Consider the international visibility to Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games. Ajay S. Shriram, Chairman and Senior Managing Director, DCM Shriram Consolidated, who has been staying in Delhi since 1982, says: “A world-class event like this is a booster dose for infrastructure.” He expects better roads, the Metro expansion and the airport modernisation to enhance Delhi’s appeal among global investors.
| 'Delhi has Economic opportunities'|
Sheila Dixit, who received an unprecedented third term as Delhi Chief Minister last winter, believes that most preparations for the Commonwealth Games 2010 are on track. Neither wanting to be nervous nor over-confident, she hopes that the Games will be remembered for more than just a few things. Excerpts from an interview with Shalini S. Dagar:
Q. What is topmost on the agenda as of now for Delhi?
Hotels should be ready but not everyone who needs a hotel to stay. So I don't think there will be anything to panic about, but you can't sit satisfied either.
Q. Using DDA apartments to put up tourists.. Is that the optimum way for us to showcase India?
Q. There have been quite a few glitches along the way with the Delhi Urban Arts Commission and other agencies having their say…
Q.Given that you have a similar minded government at the centre, Is it then possible to avoid this multiplicity of authorities for Delhi? What has been the fate of the Saigal and Pradhan Committee reports?
Q.Has the Commonwealth deadline helped Delhi's infrastructure ramp-up, financially and otherwise?
Q. Any lessons (both good and bad) that other cities can learn from Delhi from the Commonwealth Games preparation?
Q. Despite the stock reassuring answers from most government officials on Commonwealth preparations, the general perception is that there is some slack.
Q. What is the outlook on revenues?
Q. Has the emergence of the suburban centres like Gurgaon and Noida relieved some of the pressure off Delhi?
Q. Has the coordination with the surrounding states of the National Capital Region (NCR) improved? And what are the possible solutions here?