Sunday, September 26, 2010

Games Village spruce-up still an onerous task

If the purpose of the visit was to show how much ground had been covered ever since pictures of pan-stained and dirty washrooms of the Commonwealth Games Village were splashed in newspapers across the globe, the Organising Committee still has some distance to go.

A group of journalists who were taken around the Games Villages by Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi over the weekend were left wondering why he had embarked on a public relations exercise even before setting his own house, village in this case, in order.

From a distance the tall buildings of the Games Village draped in colourful cloth banners indeed look impressive, but a closer look reveals how much work yet remains to be done. The furniture in the flats looks far from new. The prolonged rains and the dampness in the air have left their impression on the wood. Electrical fittings in some rooms have come loose.

The mattresses on the beds look soiled and the floor in one of the room was blanketed in fine dust. Cement chipping from the stairs and peeled plaster on the walls too exposed the shoddy nature of work. Those who ventured into a toilet in one of the flats proclaimed that the flush was not working. “It was used seconds earlier,” countered an OC member quickly, trying to contain the damage.

From all accounts it appears that the basements are yet to be de-watered and a feeble attempt has been made to cover their entrances with sheets.

Ugly patches

One would have thought that the abundant rain would have left the lawns lush green, but ugly patches are visible. Repair work on the tiled pathways is still in progress. Sanitation workers with brooms were seen kicking up dust just outside the dining area on Saturday afternoon even as some delegates were making their way for a quick bite.

However, the training facilities for the wrestlers and weightlifters and tracks for the athletes are impressive and so is the well-equipped gymnasium. But the piece de resistance of the village is the huge dining area with a state-of-the art kitchen which can serve 36,000 meals a day working in three shifts. A South Africa diplomat blew the vuvuzela loudly after his lunch, perhaps indicating how much he had enjoyed the meal.

Later addressing a press conference, Mr. Kalmadi refrained from calling the village “world class'' and described it as a “smart village” instead. He was frank enough to admit that a lot of work still remains to be done and that the work will continue till the Games are over.

Noting that the media was one of the stakeholder and that it should work hand-in-hand with the Organising Committee to deliver a successful Games, Mr. Kalmadi went to great lengths to explain how he had to speak to the high authorities to allow journalists to take a peek of the Games Village after the lock-down on Saturday.

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