Fennell says Village filthy; bridge falls near stadium
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Eleven days before the beginning of the Commonwealth Games, Delhi and India were hit by a double whammy of embarrassment and humiliation — a steel-and-concrete foot overbridge on the busy road outside the main athletics venue collapsed, and Games chiefs savaged the athletes' Village as "filthy" and "unliveable".
Twenty-seven labourers were injured when the 95-foot hanging bridge connecting the parking lot of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with the other side of the road came down just after 3 o'clock on Tuesday afternoon. The bridge, meant for spectators, was being layered with concrete. Five labourers are fighting for their lives.
A Delhi government statement late evening clarified that the bridge cannot be re-erected in time for the Games, contradicting state PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chouhan's claim earlier that the "structure is fine", and "we can make the structure operational before the Games."
The government statement said an alternative arrangement for movement of spectators was being worked out in consultation with the Delhi Police. The contractor for the Rs 10.5-crore bridge, Chandigarh-based firm PNR Infra, has been blacklisted, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said. The government has ordered an inquiry.
In a strongly-worded statement, Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell said the condition of the living quarters at the Village was "shocking", and that he had written to Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar to express his "great concern".
The Organising Committee (OC) confirmed having received the letter, and top bureacrats led by Chandrasekhar visited the Games Village during the day. But in the evening, OC spokesman Lalit Bhanot insisted that Fennell's complaints were "not such a big issue which we should be ashamed of".
"The final preparations for the Games Village have been of concern to the CGF since viewing the residential zone along with a number of Commonwealth Games Associations advance parties on September 15," Fennel said.
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