An article in yesterday’s Mint suggests that the costs of the Commonwealth Games, scheduled to be held in Delhi in 2010, will outweigh the benefits. The experts interviewed all argue that transportation and infrastructure investments have been skewed towards projects that will not be useful in the long run, and that the Games will be lucky to break even. As I’ve talked about earlier, the Games have also exacted a massive social cost on the city, but the incredible Google Earth images of the Yamuna Pushta in the article, a massive slum cluster on the banks of the Yamuna river before and after it was demolished in 2004, make it clear just how staggering the change has been. More than 400,000 residents, equal to the entire population of the city of Miami, have seen their homes demolished since 2004, only a portion of whom received resettlement accommodation.
That dramatic visual is in contrast to how the demolition of the Pushta felt to me when I was living in Delhi in the wealthy, English speaking, south Delhi side of the city – like a non-event. The newspapers covered the eviction for a few days, but nothing to match the scale of demolishing 150,000 homes in the space of a couple of months.