It’s been one year and one week exactly since I moved to Delhi. I arrived during the monsoon, just prior to the opening of the Commonwealth Games and the ruling on the Ayodhya dispute.
Living out in the Delhi suburbs, I was little aware of the calamity ensuing in the city itself, only hearing about the collapsing and unfinished construction works hidden behind painted hoardings.
Five months after the games were over, I moved into the city. A stone’s throw away from the now deserted JLN Stadium – the ‘carbuncle’ in this WSJ blog – and started to see first hand the impact games had on the city.
An enormous plot of prime land, including car parks, gardens and the stadium stands empty, unused. Still it is lit up like a beacon every night, for all the city to see. Who knows how much Delhi pays for that electricity bill.
I live in an area of Delhi where people pay 100,000s rupees in rent. The homes belong to old army officers and some of the families have been there for four generations. Separating the D Block section from the rest of the colony is an open drain – known as the ‘nallah’ – which is bone of contention for local residents. One of the first questions a Def Col denizen will ask you is which side of the nallah do you live on? The Nallah runs the length of the colony and is buffeted on both sides by hundreds of homes. I have witnessed water and waste trucks dump effluence directly into it. You can get whiff of it from most of the colony. Given its proximity to JLN stadium, and the number of expats who were expected to visit the colony’s market during the games, money was put aside to cover the nallah. I am not sure when work began to build the concrete platforms in line with the road that would house shops perhaps or some other convenience for residents.
Incomplete by the time of the games, the nallah was partially hidden by blue Delhi Development Authority hoardings. Alongside the hoardings are several blue tarpaulins and makeshift shelters – the homes to the few families of construction workers who, 12 months post CWG, are still living on-site and form the tiny workforce who are attempting to complete the work. Judging by progress, duly hampered by a lack of hands, machines and materials to do reach completion, the nallah will remain exposed for another 12 months.