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Exclusive images: Games village far from ready

Last updated on: August 25, 2010 11:32 IST

Exclusive: Games village far from ready

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi

If you call toll free number 1800-1023643 of Emaar MGF land developers and builders you can get information about the Commonwealth Games Village 2010.

The newly-built buildings by Emaar MGF in partnership with Delhi Development Authority are going to accommodate 8,000 sportsmen and women during the Commonwealth Games.

When rediff.com visited the site spread across 27 acres, which is not yet completed, the security was relaxed in and around on this plot adjoining the Akshardham temple.

It is expected that, after a six-month delay, Emaar MGF will hand over 1,168 flats to the games organising committee by September 3 for temporary use.

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Except a few sample flats, none are fully completed. Sofas are lying around in the open, gardeners are planting plants and trees in a hurry, bulldozers are trying to fill the soft muddy land and pipelines and construction materials are lying all around the place.

While the construction of buildings is over, placement of the furniture, fittings and landscaping is going on at a feverish speed. The area smells of fresh paint, polish and cement.

The exclusive pictures captured by rediff.com tell the story about how work is being done in haste. Click on NEXT to read further...


Image: The Games village in New Delhi
Photographs: Sheela Bhatt
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The flats will be sold for prices varying from Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore in the open market after the games.

When rediff.com
visited the building number nine, the only one that was kept ready for foreign visitors of Commonwealth Games organisation, the tension of running behind schedule was all there to see.

The staffers of various contractors were running up and down. On the huge site some were checking bathrooms, some were checking kitchen fittings and some were checking imported systems from Toshiba for power back up.

More than 1,000 people were desperately trying to save the credibility of the organisers of the games.

The much talked about gymnasium is not at all ready. It has been assured that it will be completed just before the arrival of the guests. However, the swimming pool will not be ready to use because it is unlikely to get certified. The entire complex boasts of 4 lakh square feet of construction.


Image: Furniture for the houses is strewn round the Village

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The 'Games Village' project has been jinxed since the beginning.

To provide accommodation to visiting sportsmen and women, the government decided to provide land to the builder. This was a shady decision in itself.

The serious problem started with the allocation of the plot, which is not even the land in the real sense. It is the riverbed of the Yamuna.

Many environmental activists and scientists opposed it. The group called Yamuna Jiye Abhiyyan led by Manoj Mishra, scientist Vikram Soni and veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar and others did everything possible to save these flood plains of the Yamuna.

Today the games village stands here grandly after destroying the riverbed, forever. 

Surely, the apprehension regarding the site were real is evident from the fact that New Delhi's Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna issued a statement recently that the government will not allow any other project on the riverbed of Yamuna after giving permission earlier to Akshardham temple and now to the Games Village.


Image: The games village site

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Kuldip Nayar told rediff.com, "In 2008, we met the Group of Ministers formed to supervise the Commonwealth Games.

Union Minister for Urban Development Jaipal Reddy heads it. In our meeting, Arjun Singh, Ambika Soni, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and other members of the GoM were present.

We proved with scientific arguments that sand of the river Yamuna is like a sponge; it is made by nature to absorb the excess rainwater.

It is doing the excellent service of recharging the ground water. We pleaded with them to give Emaar land anywhere else in New Delhi."

Reddy told Nayar to provide alternatives because, he informed, the land allocation has been finalised. The Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan suggested to government that to save the ecology of the Yamuna river, provide collapsible houses to sportsmen for 15 days on the same site.

Nayar and others also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the issue and he promised to examine the issue. The matter ended at the Prime Minister's Office.


Image: The games village complex

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And now, on the bed of the river that must have averted many disasters for centuries stands these new flats.

The company's call centre tell prospective buyers that all small and large flats are sold out but 5/6 flats costing Rs 5 crore plus are available for sale.

They have a terrific sales pitch as well. The village is next to metro station, it connects south and central Delhi, DDA's great sports complex is in the neighbourhood. The complex boasts of a clubhouse, swimming pool, tennis and basketballs courts.
The underground parking is available at a price of Rs 4 lakh plus. The complex will have state of art gymnasiums and health clubs and special gardens for kids and 100 percent power back-up. Flats are fitted with imported marble, bathroom and kitchen fittings and imported power supply system.

The flats here are of various sizes from two to five bedrooms with servant quarters and a separate entry for servants. The flats for the visiting sportsmen will be fitted with televisions, dining tables, chairs, proper sleeping arrangements and spilt AC/s in all rooms.


Image: The kitchen in one of the ready sample flats in building number 9

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Emaar MGF surely has a lot of clout in New Delhi's power corridors.

They had paid Rs 321 crore upfront to get the contract but when they went behind schedule, the Delhi government could not do a thing against them because experts said if government penalises the developer then the entire housing project could get into trouble.

Also, besides Emaar only DLF had bid to build the village. So, there were not many who would have come forward to build. In the middle of construction Emaar went to DDA and complained that they are unable to sell their flats. 

This place, which is called by Emmar as a 'landmark address and a lifestyle statement' could not attract buyers, the company claimed.

Emaar was supposed to sell 768 flats out of 1,168 flats at market rates in late 2011 and the rest were to be sold by DDA after the games at lower prices. Emaar was to fund the construction through sale of flats. In 2008, the company went to government and said that due to depression in the real estate market they have sold only 268 flats.

They told the government to give a loan of Rs 1,000 crore. Instead of giving a loan, the committee that looked into the issue decided to buy the flats. The Delhi government found that since the land is theirs there is no guarantee of recovering money from the builders if they defaulted in repayment of loans. 



Image: The shopping arcade coming up inside the games village

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Then a deal was cut under which Emaar was promised Rs 700 crore out of sale of 333 flats to DDA. The deal was done at rate of Rs 11,000 per square feet. It was the mother of all bailouts even for the corruption-tainted games.  

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has severely indicted the DDA for its 'bailout package' and said, "It was too lenient, resulting in excess payment to the tune of Rs 89.24 crore." 

The auditors have also found that the developer was allowed to build beyond the floor area ratio.

Also the evaluation committee had said that flats in the games village should be bought at rate of Rs 9,720 per square foot but it was bought at rate of Rs 11,000 per square foot, resulting in a loss of Rs 89.24 crore.

At the entry point of the games village, a sub-contractor has installed a statue of a Hindu goddess. It's time to invoke her blessings on these corrupt games.


Image: Workers toiling away at the games village

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