Monday, March 23, 2009

Siri Fort residents protest ‘misuse’ of funds for sports complex revamp(Indian Express- 14 March 09)


NEW DELHI:- SPORTING T-shirts saying ‘Save Sirifort’, more than a hundred residents in the area took out a march on Friday to protest against the Delhi Development Authority’s decision to spend a large amount of government funds on renovating the existing Siri Fort Sports Complex for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Residents are currently also involved in litigation with the DDA against the agency’s plan to cut down hundreds of trees in the area to construct a badminton and squash stadium for the Games. The Supreme Court has since then asked the agency to desist from cutting down any more trees.

“I wrote to the DDA asking them how they can spend public money to upgrade a sports complex that is already of world-class standard. However, we did not receive a response. We have come to know that the DDA is planning to spend Rs 44 crore on dismantling exist ing structures and rebuilding them, which is not required. We also want a clear cut idea about how the DDA is planning to spend public money,” said architect Sonali Bhagwati.

Residents aver that no proper planning has been done by the DDA in terms of ways to spend the allocated funds. “The DDA has cut down many trees for building a badminton court, which has come up right next to the Siri Fort Sports Complex that already has one. Why was planning done in this way? We have also learnt that the DDA plans to spend crores of rupees for setting up swanky granite floors next to the courts in the Siri Fort complex. There is nothing wrong with the existing flooring. The agency is squandering money in the name of the Commonwealth Games,” said Anil Ahuja, a resident.

“Initially it was about saving the trees and the area’s heritage sites. Now it is imperative to also highlight that good sense needs to be employed while planning these projects,” said architect Gautam Bhatia.

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