Realty Games

Even health schemes are put on hold to fund the 12-day extravaganza. Secrecy, evictions, galloping costs, fund diversion and sheer illegalities - yet another report brings out the dirty truth about CWG 
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi

"When MCD ordered the demolition of shelters for the homeless, it was the cruellest thing a government could do to its citizens," said Justice AP Shah, former chief justice of the Delhi High Court. He was speaking at the release of The 2010 Commonwealth Games: Whose Wealth? Whose Commons?, a report prepared by the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), an NGO working on the land rights of the poor.

Even as more than Rs 30,000 crore is being spent to make Delhi a 'world-class city', Justice Shah said that the Capital has witnessed a spate of evictions and demolitions in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games (CWG), with thousands of the urban poor deprived of their livelihood - a clear violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. The report notes that demolition of slum clusters and JJ colonies in the city has led to the eviction of one lakh families from their homes.

"What has the DDA done for providing low-cost housing to the urban poor?" Justice Shah asked. Even the rehabilitation process is highly unsatisfactory, he remarked. Moreover, labourers migrating to the city from the countryside are made to work in inhuman conditions. The findings of the high power committee formed by the Delhi High Court vindicated these claims and the labour department was ordered to get its act together and enforce labour laws at the numerous construction sites all over the city. Moreover, extreme secrecy has shrouded the whole affair ever since New Delhi submitted its bid for the games.

 The report reveals how most of the laws of the land were bypassed to enable the hysterical development activity being carried out in the city for the 12-day mega event in October. Even the decision to bid was approved by the Cabinet ex-post facto in September 2003. And the deal was sealed after Indian officials made a last-minute offer of US$ 7.2 million to train the athletes of all countries of the Commonwealth. Also on offer was a travel grant of US$ 10.5 million, a free trip to the Taj Mahal, and luxury accommodation for the 'CGF family'.

With everything being done in a great hurry, the costs have risen manifold, trapping the citizens in an unending cycle of high taxes and skyrocketing inflation. The residents of the city are being made to pay through their nose for this 12-day sporting extravaganza. 

"There is no doubt that Delhi has become a world-class city, but only for the world-class citizens - the who's who of the realty business," said Dunu Roy, an urban planning expert. For more on CWG please see Hardnews, March, 2010, or check http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2010/03/3493

 

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: JUNE 2010