Last week when the Commonwealth Games Village was informally launched, it evoked lavish praise from those who saw it. The chef de mission of Wales is reported to have said: “The Village is unusual, in that it’s high-end and luxurious”.
That brings to mind a proposal that the NDA Government had received when the decision to hold these Games in New Delhi was first taken.
The decision to have the Commonwealth Games here was taken in 2003. It was Shri Vajpayee’s Government that was in office at that time.
India had made its bid for the Commonwealth Games early in 2003. In the first week of August that year the Evaluation Commission for the Games visited Delhi, as also the other countries which had staked their claims to hold the Games.
The report given to NDA Government by the Team which made a presentation to the Evaluation Commission indicated that the Commission assessed India’s ability to hold the Games “very highly”.
The final decision about the venue was made in November at Montego Bay in Jamaica. Our country was represented there by our Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Vikram Verma, and Delhi’s Lt. Governor Vijai Kapoor. Our principal competitor was Canada.
The voting was held on 13 November. 46 member countries voted in our favour and 22 against.
Shortly after this decision, the then Lt. Governor of Delhi, Vijai Kapoor, wrote to the Union Government recommending that the accommodation that was to be constructed for the athletes participating in the Commonwealth Games should be of a nature so that it could be later used as a hostel for the Delhi University. The Vajpayee Government readily agreed to the proposal. But later on, after the change of Government in New Delhi in 2004, officials interested in securing posh apartments for themselves after the Games were over, had different ideas.
I have before me a letter of September 14, 2004 addressed to the Delhi University Vice Chancellor Prof. Deepak Nayyar by Vijai Kapoor, then no longer the Lt. Governor.
In the context of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games I feel it would be in place to reproduce this letter which is actually in reply to the Vice Chancellor’s letter of September 8 thanking Shri Kapoor profusely for the manner in which he had helped the University during his tenure as L.G. of Delhi.
In this September 14 letter Shri Kapoor writes:
Thank you for your letter dated 8th September. It is heart warming. More so because it comes from the Vice Chancellor of my own alma mater. I assure you that, in whatever station of life I am, it will be my endeavour to be of service to the University.
I had succeeded in obtaining the approval of the then Union Council of Minister that the Games Village to be built near Akshardham for the Commonwealth Games 2010 would, after the Games, be handed over to Delhi University for use as a hostel for its students. I hear that some persons, obviously not very committed to the cause of our youth, have since been trying to have the decision reversed. With a view to obviating such a reversal I had asked the Delhi Development Authority to put it down as a primary parameter in the design competition for the Village that, after the Games, it would be used as a University hostel. Further developments in the matter you should closely watch. The clout of the University, and of you personally, will have to be used to ensure that a salutary decision taken by the previous Council of Ministers is now not reversed. Should you, at any stage, consider my involvement useful, kindly do ask for it.
With warm regards,
The Delhi University Vice Chancellor acknowledged this letter, thanked Kapoor for his suggestion and promised to follow up on the matter.
Obviously, the Vice-Chancellor could not succeed in preventing the attempts to have the ‘salutary decision’ of the NDA Government changed.
No wonder, a positive report about the Games has come in the press practically for the first time in several months. The positivity has a lot to do with the luxurious apartments constructed to make the Games Village.
The Times of India dated September 17, has a news story about the ‘soft launch’ of the Games Village with the caption “Bigger and Better, It’s a Global Village.”
The opening lines of the report read:
“Bigger and better. That was the consensus as delegates from participating countries of the Commonwealth Games walked through the Games Village.”
The Wales Head of Mission said that New Delhi’s Games Village is “not the normal village that we have seen till now” and that it was better than even the Melbourne one. This statement, the TOI said, “would have been music to the Organising Committee’s (OC) ears, which has been facing flak for its tardy preparations.”
Suresh Kalmadi and his associates may be happy, but how would Delhi University students feel about all this? Would they not feel cheated?
L. K. Advani
20 September, 2010