76% Delhiites feel CWG expense unjustified, 80% worry about tab

NEW DELHI: With just about a month left for the Commonwealth Games to begin, Delhiites are an angry lot. A majority feels the Games have severely disrupted their lives while funds have been wasted and the taint of corruption has hurt India’s image. Many also feel they will end up footing the bill.

These opinions emerge from a survey conducted for TOI by Synovate, a global market research agency, which contacted respondents across the city in August even as the government woke up to delays and reports of corruption and tried to set things in order ahead of the October 3 opening.

As many as three-fourths of those surveyed said the scale of expenditure — which has gone up manifold — for the Games was unjustified. According to latest estimates, total costs have shot up to Rs 28,000 crore, of which about Rs 16,000 crore is mainly for the city’s infrastructure development.

While the Games could be seen as a huge infrastructure bounty for the city, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they felt the event had been marked by too much wasteful expenditure. The waste in terms of unnecessary works and inflated costs has received a clear thumbs-down from the public.

The civic mess due to last minute rush-jobs following delays in Games-related projects has seen roads being dug up, traffic in disarray and pedestrians inconvenienced. The disaffection has been reflected by the survey’s findings with 49% respondents saying their lives had been considerably disrupted and another 48% pointing out they had been somewhat affected.

This means virtually all Delhi residents have been touched by the two-week sports extravaganza to be held in October. Among the younger generation, between 18 and 33 years, the proportion of those feeling adversely affected is a high 54%.

Delhi’s street-smart denizens are in no doubt about who is going to bankroll all this. Over 80% of those surveyed said the common man or woman would be paying for all this, with just 5% saying they didn’t know. The idea that alleged corruption will also be flowing from their pockets can hardly please most citizens.

It is not that Delhi’s can-do spirit has been subsumed by cynicism. Nearly three-fourths respondents feel India should host such sporting mega events. But they are smart enough to make the distinction: They are peeved at the waste and disorder, not about staging a big show. And there is more: just over half the respondents said that ultimately, after the Games, they would still feel proud that India had been the host!

But, about 41% felt there would be nothing to feel proud of.

Nearly 56% of those surveyed also felt that exposure of various cases of corruption in the run-up to the Games has damaged India’s reputation. In general, about 47% of respondents felt India’s reputation has been damaged by the messy preparations – Timesofindia