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At ground zero


The ‘Games Village’ is a very significant place for any sporting mega event. Yogender Malik offers an exclusive peek of the work in progress at the village for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi

Yes, the Queen’s Baton for the 2010 Commonwealth Games has been already unveiled in New Delhi but is the city ready to accommodate the 8500 Athletes and their entourage? Let’s find out. While each stadium and structure has its own unique place, the ‘Games Village’ is a very significant place for a sporting mega event.

Located on a 118-acre stretch of land on the eastern bank of River ‘Yamuna’, the Village is surrounded by several landmarks. By hosting the athletes coming for the Games, this will truly be the Ground Zero for the event. Sadly, it has been the centre of controversies from the day one.

Reasons like construction stoppages, judicial interventions, worker’s death due to meningitis in 2008, environmental issues, criticism on tardy construction progress and so on have hogged the limelight for long.

So far, it has been in the news most often for the wrong reasons. Construction Week visits the Games Village site and talks to the construction contractor [Ahluwalia Contracts (India) Ltd (ACIL)] to get first hand information.

In June 2007, Emaar MGF, a joint-venture between UAE based Emaar Properties PJSC and India’s MGF Developments Ltd, won the bid to build the Commonwealth Games Village. Amongst the 14 developers who had submitted their proposals Emmar MGF was the only company that qualified for developing the complex with a price bid of Rs321 crore.

ACIL bagged the engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) order for the Games Village from Emmar-MGF. Incidentally, this is the largest project for this Delhi based company.

Besides residential units the Village will have club and recreational facilities, a shopping complex, a swimming pool and medical facilities. Having a total covered area of 21.66 lakh sq ft, the total estimated value of the Games Village project was about Rs688 crore. However, according to ACIL, this is likely to go up to Rs800 crore or more due to additions and alterations to the original plan and scope of work.

The project

Emmar-MGF will be constructing 1178 flats spread over 34 towers in the Games Village. It will retain the 2/3rd flats in lieu of the construction, while DDA will retain 1/3rd for the land given for the project. All the flats will be constructed as per international standards with best of the raw materials and interior accessories would be used for the construction of these units.

Both DDA and Emmar-MGF can sell these flats in the open market after the games. However DDA can give the allotments to the purchasers only after Emmar-MFG has sold all the flats or a period of one year after the completion of games, whichever is earlier. Given the global financial meltdown and slump in property prices all over Delhi and the NCR region, it would be a daunting task to sell these high valued flats after the games. For close to Rs2 crore for a unit, Emmar hasn’t had great success in selling these units till date.

Current status

All the 34 buildings are in place and finishing work is underway.  Parking facilities for all the towers is at basement of each tower. Although entry to media is a strict no- no, we somehow managed to have a look at the construction activities. All around frantic activities of men and material indicates that work is progressing at a brisk pace. The site doesn’t look like anything close to what you see in brochures or newspaper.

Arun Sahai, CEO of Ahluwalia Contracts spoke to Construction Week in an exclusive interview. He said: “When we commenced the project in August 2007, it was a daunting task. Basically, it is an end-to-end project and we will be handing over the site as a completely finished project in all aspects. Construction work is on schedule and we have crossed the 50% completion stage, sometime back. This is perhaps the biggest single housing project in the country and being on the international standards is a complex one. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to construct one of the most significant real estate landmarks for a global event like this.”

Commenting on the working conditions, Sahai said, “We are providing best of the facilities to the workmen at the site. Ranging from drinking water, residential, medical and sanitation facilities, we have provided the best working conditions for our workers.”

Sahai informed us that ACIL has met all the internal deadlines set up for the project. In fact, three important deadlines for the month ended in January, have been met successfully. “We are most optimistic of finishing the project by March 31, 2010 deadline. On completion this would be one of the finest construction project, ever carried in the country,” he added.

Supreme Court comes to the rescue

A double bench comprising Justice KG Balakrishnan (Chief Justice of India) and Justice P Sathasivam said that its December 5, 2008 order of freezing the Delhi High Court order of formation of an environmental panel would continue to operate.

Earlier Delhi High Court in its order had directed on formation of a panel under environmentalist Dr RK Pachauri to access the impact on ecology due to the construction on river’s bed.

The Supreme Court has also directed the city’s High Court not to conduct any hearing on any matter related to the construction of Games Village.

DDA had moved to the apex court at the instance of the Union Government, to save the Commonwealth Games Village fate, whose slow progress has already attracted worldwide criticism.

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