Our commitment to the Commonwealth
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It is an image few forget: an opening day ceremony with Rajasthani dancers: turbaned men and choli-clad women, painted faces from Kerala, Vedic chanting as diyas float on an artificial lake. An old culture, captivating the new ones from Australia, Canada, and South Africa.
Yet when the games begin another India takes over. At the Games Village the shower issues puffs of air; the stadium entrance lies unpaved; during the evening high diving event the lights short circuit; the diver peers down into the darkness hoping there is water in the pool. Meanwhile athletes move about the city, caught in traffic jams, victims — like its citizens — of mismanagement, incompetence, and a civic apathy they have learned to recognise as truly Indian.
From the very outset the Commonwealth Games project was mired in risk and controversy. Unable to locate suitable land, buildings were sited in far flung areas of the city, sometimes on the flood-prone Yamuna, some within heritage zones. Naturally, connections between facilities so spread out needed due consideration. An 800-crore tunnel link between the games village and Nehru Stadium was proposed under Humayun's Tomb; it was rejected by the Archaeological Survey of India. Then a raised highway link was suggested along other monuments in Nizamuddin. Its alignment was duly struck down by the Delhi Urban Arts Commission. In the last few years the congested city, teeming with history, has been under siege by the CPWD, the Metro and the other agencies on the Commonwealth bandwagon. Flyovers, metro stations, new roads, tunnels, underpasses and bus lanes, the daily torment to its residents has raised a larger question about the city's long-term legacy. Who are the real beneficiaries of these continual interventions? Those who need the upgrade of living standards? Or those who need the convenience
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