Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Delhi: Under Construction

CP: outer circle
Okay this is not the worst view, but take a careful look at the flooring and the scaffolding in the background. Tiles being replaced, pillars being rebuilt, roofing being refurbished...and this is the least of it. Most of CP is much worse. Drive on the roads, and more often than not you find yourself in a bottleneck because of construction on either side. Walk, and it's worse, you might fall into one of the several ditches (in Connaught Place you have to step over several, sometimes walking over precariously placed planks to cross a wide one).

Three months to go and nowhere near complete. The news of the day is that the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi will witness a spectacular display of fireworks costing the exchequer some Rs 40 crore. A show up in the sky might distract some from the unfinished work on the roads! Having just returned from a trip to Delhi, I am left with a sense of disenchantment and deep worry. Is this the face we are to present to the world? What has always been a favourite city is now in the throes of a seeming transformation (fortunately, the nicest parts of Central Delhi have been spared) to accommodate the Games, the events, the people and the vehicles. My friend's colony in Central Delhi has had to close one of its main gates to allow parking on that side of the street, while students in Delhi University have had to do without recreational facilities for more than two years in anticipation of a Games makeover to their grounds. While the Metro snakes southward in a promising advance of mass transit, the sidewalks on the University campus have disappeared (hopefully, only temporarily) to give way to wider roads to hold more cars. And when the rain comes down, as it does with regularity in July, not only does it provide relief from the muggy heat, but also spawns rivers of free flowing mud.

In short, the road to the Games is a capital Mess.

But maybe, as sometimes happens in our charmed country, by some miracle that defies bad weather and corrupt contractors, the work will get finished and New Delhi will put up a good show.  Most residents won't be around to see it. They've been advised to leave the city during the two-week enforced break and leave it to the visitors--so that parking and water both remain in plentiful supply!

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