Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hidden Side:There's A Heavy Cost To Making Delhi Glitter For Games.It's What No One Wants To Look At

Delhi may well be bringing its citizens world-class infrastructure, thanks to the Commonwealth Games (CWG). But the human cost of development and the long-term impact on the poorer sections are either being underplayed or overlooked. As work races to meet the October deadline, stories abound of violation of labour laws, use of child labour, shabby living conditions, even deaths. The long-term cut: the CWG will leave behind lakhs of homeless.Around 15 lakh migrant labourers working in the capital are likely to be rendered homeless once their work for the CWG is completed.

Add to that the one lakh families whose jhuggis have been bulldozed to beautify the city or to create parking lots. Since they haven't been provided alternative housing, these people are either setting up makeshift settlements on the outskirts or on the roadsides. It's not as if the government doesn't understand the scale and magnitude of the problem. "We will have about 30 lakh homeless in the city after the games," says Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit. "This is a serious concern. Housing for them will be a priority after the games."

Under The Carpet

* The capital will have 30 lakh homeless after the Commonwealth Games

* 12-15 lakh of them will be migrant labourers who build the games sites

* One lakh families have been displaced to facilitate beautification plans and build parking lots

* About 2,000 boys aged 14-16 years are working at several games sites in gross violation of labour laws

* So far, over 70 deaths have taken place during construction work and due to diseases caused by the unhealthy conditions prevailing at the living quarters of the labourers

* 50,000 adult beggars and 60,000 child beggars will be removed from the city for the duration of the games and housed in camps on the outskirts

* There is anger over the money that is being splurged. Also at the new taxes announced by the Delhi government.

That "after", sincere and well-intentioned though it may be, is a giveaway to what might never get done, considering how the system works and considering the overwhelming numbers involved. And the amorphous noise of the suffering millions will drown out the pathos of individual stories, like that of Rani. For the last ten years, she lived with her husband and three children in a one-room house near the Hanuman temple in Connaught Place. A few months ago, they were asked to vacate to make way for a parking lot. No alternative housing was provided, so the family began to live on the pavement and it's from there that the children go to school. With the games drawing nearer, they fear another eviction.

England to travel to 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi

English athletes have got the go-ahead travel to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, the BBC has learned.

There was speculation that the English team would pull out of the Games in Delhi amid security fears.

The BBC has learned that Commonwealth Games England is set to write to all its sports governing bodies informing them that the team will go to India.

Some 71 nations are expected to take part in the Commonwealth Games, which open on 3 October.

It will be the biggest multi-sport event in India since the Asian Games in 1982.

Commonwealth Games England (CGE) has been receiving regular security updates from Delhi and the assessment is that it will be safe to travel.

Sir Andrew Foster, chairman of CGE, told the BBC: "England's intention is to compete at the Games and we are currently making arrangements to create the best possible environment for success in Delhi.

"Our team will be the biggest England team for an overseas Games to date with an anticipated team size of more than 550, including nearly 400 athletes."

He added that security is something that CGE and the organising committee for the Games "take very seriously".

"We have taken, and will continue to take, expert advice on the situation," he said.

Fresh concerns had been raised about the security situation in India after bomb blasts injured 14 people before an IPL cricket match in Bangalore on 17 April.

The current official Foreign Office advice is that "there are increased indications that terrorists are planning attacks in New Delhi".

But CGE said it is confident that athletes will be safe in India.

However, athletes will be told that if they are picked for the team they will be free to withdraw from the Games if they do not wish to take part.

Half of city lives in slums and illegal colonies: MCD

In what comes as a dampener to the civic bodys sustained campaign to present a beautiful face of Delhi during the Commonwealth Games,the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Tuesday revealed a filthy side of the national capital before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Nearly half of 15 million Delhiites live in slums,JJ clusters and unauthorized colonies which have little or no garbage collection system,it said.

About 49% of the total population of Delhi lives in slum areas,unauthorized colonies and about 860 JJ clusters.There are also 20,000 jhuggies and according to a rough estimate about five persons stay in each jhuggi besides a sizable population living in unplanned areas having no proper system of collection,transportation and disposal of municipal solid wastes, said the affidavit filed through advocate Sanjiv Sen.

What is more startling is that despite formulation of the Master Plan 2021,the government has not been able to bring most of the residential areas under its purview.The MCD said: As a rough estimate only about 5% of the population lives in planned areas.

This means nearly 73.5 lakh people of the 1.5 crore population live in slums and unauthorized colonies and that only 7.5 lakh Delhiites enjoy civic amenities to the fullest being residents of planned development areas.This affidavit was filed by the civic body to highlight the urgent need for an alternative sanitary landfill (SLF) site as the one next to the Ghazipur slaughterhouse was more than full and unable to take any more load.

It said that MPD-2021 has estimated that Delhi would require an SLF site of the size of 1,500 acres. However,the size of the present three sites being used by MCD at Ghazipur,Bhalswa and Okhla together is less than 150 acres.Thus,MCD is operating from less than 10% of the estimated land required, the civic body said.

It blamed the piling up of filth and its non-collection on the uninterested approach of the Sheila Dikshit government and the Delhi Development Authority. The DDA and Delhi government have not yet been able to provide more suitable land in spite of repeated representations from MCD.The MCD is keen to stop operation from all the present three sites,including Ghazipur as soon as DDA and Delhi government allots it more land for SLF sites, it said.

Seeking the apex courts nod for using the abandoned Bhatti mines area as a SLF site,MCD said it was finding it extremely difficult to dispose 7,500 tonnes of municipal solid waste generated in Delhi.

The three SLF sites were almost saturated and it was becoming increasingly difficult to operate these sites due to height and slope constraints. MCD,however,is compelled to operate these sites at risk of loss of property and life due to non-availability of land for a new site, it said.

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