Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Preparation for the Commonwealth Games - how good are we ?

First of all, it is difficult for an individual to really find out what the current state of the preparation for the Commonwealth Games is ? The current reality is that there is work needed to be done at various fronts - the Delhi Government has set in process a huge amount of infrastructure improvements to give the city a modern feel and look. This includes improvements to the transport infrastructure (new roads, modification of roads to reduce jams and increase speed of transport, more metro stations), improvements to the existing stadia to make them capable of handling huge international sports (for example, the Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium leaked a couple of years back when there was an international badminton event), provision of adequate power, housing, and water supplies.
There are multiple levels of responsibility in all this - there is an Organizing Committee of the Indian Olympic Association headed by Suresh Kalmadi, and of course the Delhi Government headed by Shiela Dixit is responsible for the progress of the various infrastructure initiatives. It is worthwhile to remember that one of the biggest problems quoted for infrastructural project cost over-runs in the past is poor project management. I stated in the beginning that it is difficult for an individual to assess, however, there are many other authorities who do take such assessments, and it is hard to determine whether we will follow the time honored method of Just in Time, or will there be a comfort margin before all these efforts are done.
There was a CAG report that stated that the efforts were behind schedule, the media does evaluations from time to time, and in most of them, the efforts are behind schedule, and in fact, from their own project plans, the effort is behind schedule. However, the duo of Suresh Kalmadi got seriously worried when a similar accusation was made by Commonwealth Games Federation President Michael Fennell. He wrote a letter in which he wanted the Indian Prime Minister to get involved to help get this effort on schedule (link to article):

Reacting to Fennell's outburst, Dikshit said she would use every means at her disposal to make it a success, while Kalmadi announced that he would facilitate the CGF chief's meeting with the Prime Minister. Exuding confidence that everything would fall in place, Dikshit said the Delhi Government would complete all work "well in time" although it was little "nervous" about the preparation.
On the recent criticism by the CAG about slow progress of the infrastructure projects, Dikshit said the audit body had prepared the report last month based on status of works six months back. "They have the right to criticise. But we are working very hard. We are looking at all alternatives. Nation's pride is involved with the event and we will do everything possible to make it a success," she said.

By the Delhi Government's own admission a couple of years back, there will be no augmentation of the power generated specifically for Delhi, so this would mean that the Government will have to buy power at that time to ensure that there is enough energy for the Games sites and the Games Village.
In addition to the above problems, there is also the problem of not enough capacity available for the expected inflow of guests. The Commonwealth Games are expected to pull in a huge number of tourists and there are not enough rooms as per the projected demand. And on this end, there are no details available either.
What is the solution ? The Government spent 5 years realizing that the pace of development of the country-wide network of roads had slowed down, so not sure whether there will be an increase in the intensity of work. My expectation is that in the last few months, there will be a escalation of the pace of work, and we will just make it in time, with a few loose ends in terms of infrastructure, and for the rest, in terms of better road connectivity for the participants, the Delhi Police will chip in terms of routing traffic so that the traffic is suitable for the Games, the normal man getting screwed will not matter.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:12 AM