M A I N   N E W S

Double trouble for Games 
Footbridge outside main venue collapses, 23 hurt n Fennell terms Athletes’ Village filthy, tells OC to fix things n Officials scramble to sweep dirt under the carpet
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 21
A cloud of uncertainty hung over the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday after advance teams of some countries described residential facilities at the Games Village “unsafe and unfit for human habitation” due to filthy, unhygienic and dangerous conditions. To add to the embarassment, a footbridge outside the main stadium collapsed, injuring scores of workers, condition of some of whom were said to be serious.

PM wants daily report on CWG

A concerned prime minister today stepped in to deal with the CWG crisis. He is learnt to have asked for a daily report from the Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna. The Lieutenant Governor held a meeting with principal secretary to the PM, TKA Nair, and cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar to take stock of the preparedness of the village.

Firm blacklisted

The Delhi Government has blacklisted PNR Infrastructure, the Chandigarh-based firm that was constructing the foot overbridge that collapsed on Tuesday.

Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell asked organisers to take remedial measures within 24 hours. He said the facilities at the Games Village were “seriously compromised” and they have “shocked” officials of participating countries. After Fennell wrote a letter to the Cabinet Secretary, asking the country’s top bureaucrat to attend to the problems immediately, the Cabinet Secretary rushed to the Games Village to see things for himself.

Meanwhile, a footbridge — that was to connect the parking lots of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium where the opening and closing functions of Games would be held — collapsed at 3.10 pm. The 95-metre long bridge was being built along with another overbridge at a cost of Rs 10.5 crore by Chandigarh-based company PNR Infra, Delhi government sources said.

Fire department officials said the labourers were putting concrete mix at a portion of the bridge when the incident took place. Of the 23 injured, the condition of five labourers is said to be serious.

Athletes and officials will start arriving this week and over 7,000 of them are expected to land from over 71 countries to take part in the mega sporting event.

The litany of complaints is a severe indictment of the Organising Committee head Suresh Kalmadi and his colleagues who had been boasting that the Games Village would be the best ever.

The Commonwealth Games Federation, England, had said in a CGF meet held on September 17 and 18 that toilets were “filthy and disgusting” and that labourers employed at the village were using them. The Canadian delegation said gaps in the staircases were dangerous while the one from Scotland wondered if anybody was in charge of the village, official sources said. Another member said stray dogs were found lying on the bed meant for athletes while a few others said toilets were stained and excrements were present, which was confirmed by CGF’s CEO Mike Hooper today.

Sources said some of these teams so upset that they are toying with the idea of pulling out of the Games altogether.

There are also problems galore related with electricity and plumbing, ranging from non-functioning flushes to electric switches which do not work to broken locks.

CGF bosses, who had been circumspect and even defended the OC in previous media interactions, launched a blistering attack on the OC today and Hooper accused it of not living up to the promises made in the past and warned that time had run out. He said they had brought to the OC’s notice these issues after their visit to the village on September 15 and were assured that these would be fixed by September 19. “In the timeframe that is left, unless there is tremendous effort and energy and problem-solving ability to get it done, I think it's going to be extremely hard to get across the line,” he said.





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