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The 2010 Commonwealth Games: Whose Wealth, Whose Commons?

The 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) will be held in New Delhi, India, from 3-14 October 2010. Given the many unanswered questions that have marked the CWG process, the Housing and Land Rights Network – South Asia Regional Programme (HLRN) decided to undertake a study on various dimensions of the CWG.

The HLRN study is based on an extensive review of reports of civil society, government bodies, academic institutions, and the media, as well as interviews with experts and information obtained from a Right to Information (RTI) application filed specifically for the study. The resulting report is presented in the form of four thematic fact sheets detailing the social and economic aspects of the CWG. The report also makes recommendations aimed at bringing transparency into the process and mitigating the negative impacts of the Games.

The HLRN report concludes that the entire process related to the CWG has been essentially underscored by secrecy, unavailability of information, and unconstitutional activities, with evidence of long-term economic, social and environmental costs for the nation, and specifically for the city of Delhi. The CWG process, from the time of the bid to the continuous colossal escalation in the total budget, has been characterised by a lack of public participation, transparency, and government accountability.

Preparations for the Games, in all their different manifestations, have already resulted in an irreversible alteration in the social, spatial, economic, and environmental dimensions of the city of Delhi. Much of this has taken place in contravention of democratic governance and planning processes, including the Master Plan for Delhi 2021. The sheer magnitude of funds involved and the unconditional sanctioning of state and central government resources to meet the rapid acceleration of costs, raises critical questions of financial accountability, Constitutional obligations, and national responsibility. The goal of portraying Delhi as a “world class” city and an international sports destination, has led the Indian government — both at the state and central level — to lose sight of its priorities and legal and moral commitments to its people.

It is hoped that this report will help planners, government officials, residents of India, civil society, national and state human rights organizations, judicial institutions as well as the international community to gauge the reality of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. All actors need to question not only the justification of holding the Games in light of India’s dismal socio-economic reality and its national and international human rights and environmental legal commitments, but also the actions of those responsible for the decisions related to the Games.