NEW DELHI — Residents in New Delhi reacted furiously on Wednesday after authorities announced many major roads would be closed to give inspecting Commonwealth Games officials a smooth ride through the city.
One year ahead of the opening ceremony, Delhi is struggling to convince event organisers that it will be able to host a successful Games in a city notorious for traffic congestion, pollution and infrastructure chaos.
Delegates from the 71 teams have arrived for the general assembly of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and will take an inspection tour of the city’s preparations on Thursday.
Police warned all residents not to use most key city centre routes throughout the day, and maps published in newspapers highlighted which roads would be cleared for Games delegates between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm.
The move has not gone down well with Delhi drivers who already face congested roads and long traffic jams made worse by the hectic construction activity ahead of the Games.
‘It’s a foolish idea,’ said Sanjaya Gupta, 42, an executive who commutes 10 kilometres (six miles) every day by car to his office.
‘It would have been good to give the delegates a taste of our traffic woes so that they realise that New Delhi is clearly unsuited to host this event next year.’
Banker Subhas Bose, 39, feared the whole city may be shut down when the Games take place.
‘If they can block roads for an inspection, will they ask Delhites to stay indoors for a fortnight during the Games,’ he asked.
‘I will not leave home on Thursday, and maybe I will take leave town when the Games start.’A recent study by the state-run Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) said 6 million vehicles travelled New Delhi’s roads, with 900 added every day.