Bridge collapse injures 23 at Delhi Games site

Labourers seriously injured as bungled Commonwealth Games hit new low

The aftermath of the bridge collapse at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games site. Picture: Getty.
The aftermath of the bridge collapse at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games site. Picture: Getty.

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Preparations for the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi sunk to a new low today after a footbridge leading to the main Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium collapsed, injuring 23 labourers.

Five of the men were seriously injured in the incident that occurred at 3.10pm in Lodhi Road area of South Delhi, police said. The 95-metre long bridge was being built along with another overbridge at by Chandigarh-based company PNR Infra, Delhi government sources told the Times of India newspaper.

Public Works Department of Delhi government, which issued the contract to PNR Infra for constructing the overbridge, has ordered an inquiry into the incident. The bridge, which was due for handover soon, was to connect the parking lot of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium where the opening and closing functions of Commonwealth Games will be held.

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It’s the latest in a series of scandals that have dogged the Games. Earlier this year, allegations of bribery, corruption, bungled preparations, worker exploitation and construction chaos were levelled on the Games from several quarters, including the government’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Vigilance Commission.

The CVC detailed serious flaws in the contract and tendering process and a litany of shoddy workmanship and unnecessary spending. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stepped in a month ago and appointed 10 officials to oversee the remaining weeks of preparation to ensure construction would hit its deadlines.

However, the bridge collapse has cast that in to doubt.

British newspaper The Daily Telegraph today reported that team leaders from England, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, Australia and Canada had all expressed "grave concerns" over the housing for the 6,500 team members and said some was "unsafe and unfit for human habitation".

The paper said conditions in the athletes' village had prompted Scottish officials to describe their team's accommodation as "unsafe and unfit for human habitation."

Team Scotland was reallocated finished accommodation after complaining to the Games organising committee but even the new apartments required "serious cleaning and maintenance" to bring them up to Games ready standards.

New Zealand’s Commonwealth team manager Dave Currie went a step further, saying that the Games may not even go ahead.

He told the Telegraph that, "In the time frame that is left, unless there is tremendous effort and energy and problem-solving ability to get it done, it's going to be extremely hard to get across the line," Currie told New Zealand radio. "If the village is not ready and athletes can't come, obviously the implications of that are that (the event) is not going to happen."

Currie said New Zealand would consult with other countries before making a final decision on whether it will take part in the games.

"That's not a decision that we'll make (alone), but there are some realities," he said.

Officials are also troubled by the very real threat of a terrorist attack at the games. International security experts say the potential for an attack is highly likely following an incident where two Taiwanese tourists were injured when the bus they were travelling in was shot at.
 

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