By Azera Rahman, IANS,
New Delhi : What cannot be removed must be hidden, the city fathers believe. As Delhi readies to host the Commonwealth Games next year, it is looking to show its painted face to the world while hiding slums behind bamboo screens.
Realising that uprooting slum clusters from all over the capital and rehabilitating its inhabitants is not a pragmatic solution — especially as the deadline for the 2010 Commonwealth Games is drawing to a close — the Delhi government has decided to literally screen the not-so-welcoming sights from the many visitors expected for the event.
Similar moves were made in Beijing during last year’s Olympics when screens were put up before not so pretty sections of the city which the authorities did not want the millions of visitors to China to see. Giant screens are also seen in several cities in Latin America to block out ugly sights from visitors.
Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta told IANS: “We have spoken to the agriculture department of Mizoram to help us in planting bamboo trees which can be used to screen the shanties and slums on the roadside of all those routes through which the Commonwealth convoy is expected to go.”
“We want to present a good face of Delhi during the Games next year, but it is not possible to remove all the slums. Therefore, we have decided to use bamboo screens instead to simply conceal the sights,” Mehta said.
The agriculture department of Mizoram has been especially asked for a type of bamboo that can withstand Delhi’s dry climate.
“In the northeast, the weather is humid, but for our purpose we need at least five-foot-tall bamboos which can survive the dry weather. We are also planning to take Assam’s help in this regard since bamboo grows there as well,” Mehta told IANS in an interview.
“We are also consulting the National Bamboo Mission and the National Mission of Bamboo Application in this regard,” he added.
However, not all ‘jhuggis’ or slums will be ‘screened’.
“Slum dwellers near the Commonwealth Games village have been rehabilitated at Bawana. About 9,000 houses have been made for them there,” Mehta said.
The Commonwealth Games Oct 3-14 next year is expected to see a huge turnout of players and tourists. Seventy-one member countries are scheduled to participate in the Games that has 17 sports disciplines.
While numerous other preparations are under way to make the event a success — giving all flyovers an aesthetic look, improving connectivity and ensuring that there are enough rooms to accommodate the players and tourists — the slums have continued to be a matter of concern.
(Azera Rahman can be contacted at [email protected])