New Delhi: Indian Government spent Rs 40 crore on the grand show at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games to advertise India and the Delhi Games in 2010, which will be the biggest and most expensive sports event to ever be held in India.

But activists say the Delhi Government is using the intended Games Village as an excuse to encroach on the floodplains of the Yamuna.

The Government insists it has all the permissions.

“Every clearance has been taken for the Games Village, be it from the ecology department, environment department and so on and so forth,” says Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

But CNN-IBN found the Expert Committee set up by the Delhi Government itself, headed by Hydrology Expert AK Gosain, has not cleared the project.

A Right to Information document shows that the Delhi Development Authority lacks several basic approvals. For instance, there’s no clearance from the Yamuna Standing Committee or the Central Ground Water Authority.

An earlier set of experts, the Usha Mehra Committee, too had rejected the proposed Games Village, as well as studies conducted by the DDA itself.

“This project was sent for environmental appraisal before two expert committees. First was when DDA in 2005 sent it for National Environmental Engineering Research Institute of Nagpur (NEERI), they clearly said no permanent construction can be allowed on the floodplains. Thereafter in 2006 government and DDA again sent it for formal environmental clearance under the environment Protection Act to Ministry of Environment, where it was sent to their expert committee and they also clearly appoint that no permanent construction can be allowed on this area,” says lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

Activists say the government is being driven by vested interests.

“Whether the intent is just to host these athletes and the officials for the 10-days or the intent is something else, and here the intent is appear absolutely clear that the intent is to concretize the riverbed and to make money out of selling the riverbed. That's the intent,” says an activist of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, Manoj Mishra.

Despite several alternate site suggestions, the DDA insisted on constructing the games village, flouting environmental regulations and ignoring what the expert committee of the Environment Ministry said.

Jhoomur Bose / CNN-IBN
Published on Tuesday , October 16, 2007 at 10:13 in Nation section