Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Social watchdog questions Games expenditure

‘Total Commonwealth Games' cost exceeding Rs.10,000 crore'

‘Development for Games creating a more segregated, inequitable Delhi'
The Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) has questioned the expenditure on the Commonwealth Games, as asserted by the Organising Committee (OC) of Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi.

In a press release issued in response to a recent editorial by OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, HLRN attempted to “set the record straight”. The editorial said the total expenditure on the Games is Rs.1,620 crore. The Network asserted that the said amount covers only the cost of operational expenses and the actual amount spent is a “huge multiple” of the said amount.

While maintaining that it largely focused on the millions of livelihoods that will be disrupted because of the Commonwealth Games in the Capital, the HLRN repeatedly questioned the benefits of the huge amounts being spent in the name of a “positive legacy”.

Citing evidence from various sources including newspaper reports, government sources and speeches, the Network pointed out that the total cost of the Games was estimated to be in excess of Rs.10,000 crore.

It also questioned Mr. Kalmadi's claim that the expenditure on the Games will help make Delhi a “more classy metropolis”. HLRN Associate Director Shivani Chaudhary said the Games will “create a more segregated, inequitable and inaccessible Delhi” which will cater only to the city's elite.

The social, environmental and human rights violations occurring in the name of the Games were also mentioned in the report, HLRN said. These included funds diverted from social welfare schemes like Delhi Scheduled Caste Sub Plan towards the Games in 2006-07 and 2009-10.

Challenging Mr. Kalmadi's stand about the Games improving Delhi's sporting infrastructure and legacy, the Network also cited the example of the now “unused” and “badly maintained” stadiums built at the time of the Asian Games 1982.

As for the OC's claim of repaying the Rs.1,620 crore loan through broadcast rights, sponsorship, tickets and merchandising, HLRN made a reference to the “long term financial losses” suffered by cities like Athens, Montreal and Beijing that have hosted mega sporting events in the past. It said Delhi should learn a lesson in avoiding unnecessary expenditure from them.

The release further said that Delhi's new airport, flyovers and road projects should have been planned in accordance with the city's Master Plan, and not constructed because of the Games, as most of these projects have flouted institutional norms.

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