CWG changes little, few takers for new stadiums

CWG changes little, few takers for new stadiums

Many facilities built for the 2010 Games remain largely unused

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Three years after the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi is dotted with over two dozen stadiums and other sports facilities, some of them located in universities and colleges.

But the city appears to have missed out on the opportunity this infrastructre provided.

The 21-acre sports complex at Commonwealth Games Village in east Delhi is a case in point.

“I think the whole of Mayur Vihar and Patparganj (nearby localities) should be here,” says Sushant Singh, a local resident who often hits the swimming pool with his friends on weekends.

He adds that there aren’t many takers for membership of the sporting complex.
At 8 am on a Saturday, the gymnasium – twice the size of local gyms – meant for international athletes staying at the village for the 2010 CWG has only eight persons, including two trainers and one women trainee. The synthetic track too is deserted. Nobody is running.

Only two men approaching their thirties are found jogging.

The Delhi Development Authority opened the entire sports complex to public in March last year, after running into delays for about two and a half years.
The football ground and athletic track at the complex were opened nearly a year before that.

Upon entering the reasonably crowded badminton and swimming pool arena, one can see why there are so few people willing to take part in the basic fitness regime. Most people use the sporting facilities at the complex on ‘pay and play’ basis.

Convenient and cheap

It is “convenient and cheap” to shell out Rs 55 per person for 40 minutes at the badminton court, which has expensive wooden flooring, says Ashish Kumar, a 21-year-old student whose house is a 15-minute drive from the CWG village.
“I come here only on weekends. So I don’t think it is wise to pay the membership fee of over Rs 5,000 per year,” he adds.

The high cost generally – and sometimes the distance from the nearby gym – keeps the local sports and fitness enthusiasts away, as even after getting the membership, one has to pay one-half to two-third of the regular charge for getting access to different sporting arenas.

“Mostly, we have working people coming in here. On weekends generally, groups come in to hire the football grounds,” says Deepak, a staff at the sports complex.
Charges for using the football field is around Rs 750 for 90 minutes. Discounts, however, are available for school and colleges for team games.

Few young and seasoned athletes are seen. “Most are inclined to join training academies where you get specialised coaching,” says Vivek Chaudhary, a young tennis player who lives in one of the neighbouring localities.

The sports complex in Delhi University’s North Campus, upgraded during CWG, is also not being optimally utilised.

The complex includes a rugby court as well as a multi-purpose hall with facilities for indoor sports. But only the multi-purpose hall – which houses a gymnasium and indoor sports facilities – is accessible to students and university staff for a monthly fee of Rs 250 and Rs 500 respectively.

The underutilisation of stadiums upgraded during the CWG games also finds mention in the `white paper’ on financial and other irregularities allegedly committed by the DU Vice Chancellor released by the Delhi University Teachers’ Association early this week.

The upkeep of rugby ground is expensive, says chairperson of DU sports council C S Dubey, arguing why it is not used for sporting events.

While DU community alleges that the administration is neglecting sports, some students at Jamia Millia Islamia say they have never visited the university sports complex which was upgraded during the mega sporting event.

“I have heard it is good, but I have only seen it from the outside,” says Ayan Joshi, a second year student of Mass Communication.

The access to the complex, however, is free of charge for students. “In principle, students are the prime stakeholders. For the university staff, there is a nominal annual fee,” says university spokesperson Mukesh Ranjan.

Cricket ground in the Jamia sports complex hosts many inter-university and even Ranji Trophy matches. Despite all the cricket frenzy, these matches happen without much enthusiasm, say students.

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