New Delhi: August 31 was the fourth deadline set for the completion of the venues that will host Delhi's Commonwealth Games. It's not going to happen.
Jaipal Reddy, who heads the Group of Ministers supervising the Games, blames it on the rain. "The schedule is not met strictly. It is being delayed by a couple of days because of rain also and because of a delay in the delivery of containers," he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has, meanwhile, set another deadline for timely completion of the unfinished Commonwealth Games projects.
"It has been raining very heavily which has affected our works. If rain stops and sun comes out then we should be able to complete all the work by September 10. Otherwise, we will have to extend the deadline. But we are confident by grace of God we will be able to finish everything before October 3," she told reporters.
The monsoon in Delhi has brought 48% more rain than normal. But the Games are now just five weeks away. In two weeks, 700 international athletes and officials will arrive in the capital. They're meant to check into the Atheletes Village at Akshardham. Many of the apartments there still don't have electrical fittings.
The onus for prepping the venues rests with the Delhi government, as well as agencies like the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, which officially reports to the capital's Lieutenant Governor, Tejinder Khanna. On record, officials from these different bodies insist that the stadia and other venues that they're handling are getting their finishing touches, if only.
At the SP Mukherjee Swimming complex in Central Delhi, basics like tiles and cables are still missing. Another ten days are needed to round off the venue, say sources.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held, also needs another 10 days of prepping. The peripheral wall and the wrestling arena are still under construction.
The Yamuna Sports Complex is in complete disarray. There's flooding inside. The outside looks like the set of a movie about the end of the world.
Leaks at the Indira Gandhi Stadium are provoking fears that the wooden flooring to be used by gymnasts is precariously positioned.
In addition to the last-minute renovation and repair, the security checks for the venues will also now be a rushed affair. Security cameras, metal detectors and other surveillance equipment cannot be installed. Sources have already confirmed that instead of a 90-day dry run for security systems, there will be, at best, a two-week check.