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CWG: Loss that no one is counting
Expensive stadia used for the Commonwealth Games that were rebuilt at a cost of over
Rs 2,500 crore now lie deserted or underutilised resulting in massive waste
New Delhi, June 22
Barely eight months after the Commonwealth Games 2010, billed as the biggest sporting event ever held in India, the glitter has gone out of the imposing stadia renovated at a cost of over Rs 2,500 crore to the public exchequer. Most remain unutilised or under-utilised. Few tournaments have been hosted during this time and many of the stadia are not even cleaned properly.
The CWG showpiece, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium which was the venue for the dazzling opening and closing ceremonies, wears a forlorn look with dust gathering on the seats, muddy floors and garbage dumped in the corners. Barring a few gardeners snipping at grass, nobody is generally around
to explain how the Sports Authority of India (SAI) plans to maintain it.
The Karni Singh Shooting Range with a centrally air-conditioned indoor shooting range spread over 72 acres, the Siri Fort Sports Complex, Talkatora Stadium and even the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium have turned out to be the proverbial white elephants. The swimming pool attached to the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, which hosted hockey matches, has actually been abandoned. The filtration plant is lying unused and the pool now has piles of debris, construction material and mud in it.
The Talkatora Stadium boasts of three pools of international standard - a diving pool, the main pool and a warm-up pool. The SAI does not allow beginners to use these pools. Only the main pool is being used by members of the SAI while negotiations are said to be on to let out the warm-up pool to a public or private sector company.
At the Siri Fort Sports Complex, both the squash and badminton courts are barely being used because the high costs being charged by the SAI that dissuade most organisers. And same is the plight of the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium. The Indira Gandhi Stadium, the venue for gymnastics, wrestling and cycling, is yet to host a single event after the Commonwealth Games.
Though the sports ministry has thrown open its five major stadiums to the public that were built and renovated for the CWG with schemes like ‘come and play’, the expensive infrastructure looks hardly being utilised and maintained due to its abandoned state.
According to the scheme, the designated areas in the stadia have been opened for imparting professional training to encourage sports participation. But the cost of running the high-tech stadiums with the imported costly fittings and equipments installed in them is too high to be afforded by any local team or sports association.
But if people had hoped that hosting the Games or building the infrastructure would help the country grow as a powerhouse of sports, there is no evidence visible yet.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
Dust laden seats, muddy floors and heaps of garbage dumped in the corners is how the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, one of the biggest stadiums in India, looks like from inside now. A visit to the stadium will take anyone by surprise with its ill-maintained condition and forces one to doubt of it being the same venue that hosted the grand opening of the Games. The only evidence is the rotting remains of the floats, including a rickshaw that was decorated as part of the closing ceremony. The stadium comes under the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and has not held any tournament or sports activity since it has been handed over back to the SAI after the Games. Renovated at the cost of Rs 961 crore, the stadium looks nothing more than a part of history with only few labourers that can be spotted cutting grass in the play ground.
The closing ceremony of the XIX Commonwealth Games in progress and (right) items used in the opening ceremony still lie unattended outside the stadium. Tribune photos
Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium
The MDC National Stadium was reconstructed for the CWG. The upgraded stadium, which was the venue for hockey events, had cost the government Rs 299 crore. It has not seen any major activity since the Games except two-three tournaments. Apart form the main playing area, the stadium has an abandoned swimming pool filled with debris and construction waste. “That used to be a good facility for the players earlier. But due to the negligence of the officials, the pool was discarded,” said a swimming coach from the SAI.
(Above) An India-Australia match in progress and (below) waste material scattered in the
stadium’s spectator stand
Indira Gandhi stadium
The competition venue for gymnastics, wrestling and cycling, the Indira Gandhi National Stadium has also not been able to host any sporting event since the Commonwealth Games except the national camps. This is the only lucky stadium that has seen at least one good thing after the Commonwealth Games. The Sports Authority of India has started free counselling sessions at the venue for parents to make them aware of the ways to handle their child aspiring to become a sportsperson.
(Above) Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav celebrates victory in the 74kg freestyle category and (below)
sad state of the venue
RK Khanna Tennis Stadium
The stadium was given a new look for the quadrennial multi-discipline event at the cost of Rs 65 crore. The stadium provided state-of-the-art facilities for the CWG and is being controlled by RK Khanna Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA). The complex remained closed for two months after the CWG was over and has hosted only one tournament since then. “The tennis stadium is the most expensive for an individual to afford. The yearly membership for the stadium, which includes the coach facility, starts from Rs 18,000 to Rs 48,000. And if somebody wants to utilise the courts on a daily basis, the charges come out to be Rs 150 per hour minus the coach fee, which is Rs 500 per hour.
Karni Singh Shooting Range
The CWG venue for shooting, the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, lies on the outskirts of the capital, which is the biggest disadvantage for the potential shooters to use the facility. The venue was upgraded with an investment of Rs 150 crore in 13 months. Before the Games in October, the Commonwealth Shooting Championship was also held at these ranges from February 17-28. But after the Games, it’s only the national camps that have taken place at the venue.
SPM Talkatora Stadium
The stadium was renovated at the cost of over Rs 250 crore for the aquatic and swimming events during the Commonwealth Games, the stadium has not hosted any event since the Games except national camps. Though, the stadium has been opened for swimming by the Sports Authority of India, there is no hope for beginners as only those are eligible for registration who successfully pass the trail of
100-metre swimming in an eight-feet deep swimming pool.
(Above) A swimming event in progress during the Games; and (below) the pool at the SPM Talkatora
Stadium lying unutilised
Siri Fort Sports Complex
The stadium was witness to the magnificent victory of Saina Nehwal who won the gold medal in the badminton finals. The stadium has not witnessed much activity since then and waste material lies uncleared. It was the venue for badminton and squash competitions. The complex has seen only two tournaments since then. The stadiums is being run by the Delhi Development Authority and can only be hired by those sports associations and boards which are ready to give lakhs of rupees for a single day.
Saina Nehwal in action during the Games; and (below) weeds dot the Siri Fort Complex giving
it a dirty look