Hindustan Times (Delhi)

Asian Games Village goes from glory days to gloom

SHAME GAME The complex has seen good days, but commercial­isation and inaction on civic agencies’ part has led to its deteriorat­ion

- Sohil Sehran sohil.sehran@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: Built on the remains of the 13th century Khilji dynasty’s Siri Fort, Asiad Village or Asian Games Village has managed to retain its greenery and calm despite rapid commercial­isation in its surroundin­gs. Its dense green belt and well organised residentia­l complexes make it a high profile address among the cluttered south Delhi localities. The area, popularly known as Khel Gaon, was developed for the 1982 Asian Games held in the Capital. Several blocks of the locality were named after famous sportspers­ons of the country. It has been home to several top bureaucrat­s, but over the years the infrastruc­ture here has deteriorat­ed due to poor maintenanc­e.


Asian Games Village is a cluster of 853 flats, out of which 750 house top officials of Public Sectors Undertakin­gs, bureaucrat­s and public servants. A retired DDA official said that after the Asian Games, these flats were put on sale in 1984 and NRIs were approached through embassies to buy them but only 60-70 NRI buyers materialis­ed. The remaining flats were taken up by private owners.

The colony, including the Siri Fort Complex area, is spread over 135 acre, which was acquired by the Central government during 1962-70 under large-scale land acquisitio­n. Of the 135 acre, 62 acre were earmarked for housing, 26 acre for auditorium, 42 acre for practice grounds and 5 acre as green buffer zone. The land belonged to the villagers of Shahpur Jat. The RWA known as Asiad Village Society managed to get 600 square yards from the DDA and constructe­d a community hall on its own for the welfare of the residents.

The colony was designed by renowned architect Raj Rewal, who is known for the Hall of Nations (Pragati Maidan), Parliament Library and STC Building. The buildings at Khel Gaon were designed around the concept of ‘low rise, low density’, wherein a three-storey building is equivalent to 11 metres. The idea of constructi­ng buildings on these scales was to ensure long life and easy maintenanc­e.

The colony is surrounded by the Siri Fort Ridge and is located next to the Siri Fort Sports Complex which hosted squash and badminton tournament­s during the 2012 Commonweal­th Games. Residents enjoy access to complex with an exclusive entrance from within the locality. Asiad Village complex

DWINDLING INFRASTRUC­TURE Some of the flats at Asiad village have been reserved for eminent artists and athletes. Golfer Shiv Kapoor and artist GR Iranna stay here. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam was also a resident of this colony before his elevation to the highest constituti­onal office in the country. He stayed at a Defence Research and Developmen­t Organisati­on (DRDO) guest house for years. “He lived in the colony for a long time. I often saw him going for morning walk. His presence brought prominence to the colony,” said AK Jain, former commission­er (planning), DDA.

Despite its high profile residents, the flats here bear signs of neglect. Inside the buildings, the infrastruc­ture is same as laid in 1982, while the exteriors have been given a cosmetic facelift. “Residents have taken care of the interiors of the flats, but extensive renovation is needed to protect these buildings from further damage,” said Bhanu Singh, a bank official who lives in Hawa Singh block.

Some feel that as the residents here come for only a limited period, no one really bothers about its upkeep. “As most of the residents are high ranking officers who stay here for limited period, political leaders give less importance to electorate here. Hence, this place remains neglected,” said one of the occupants of the area.

Besides the maintenanc­e of the apartments, the roads connecting the residentia­l blocks have not been carpeted for years while the parks are full of agricultur­al waste. The residents have raised the issue with the authoritie­s, but little has been done. The South Delhi Municipal Corporatio­n is responsibl­e for the maintenanc­e of roads and streetligh­ts while the upkeep of flats is being looked after by different government department­s like CPWD, Housing and Urban Developmen­t Corporatio­n (HUDCO) and DDA.

“The entire society needs to be renovated. At present the Asiad Village Society manages a few things from the funds collected within the colony. We have taken up the issue with the agencies and are hopeful that these grievances will be redressed,” said Dr Ravi Bhutani, secretary Asiad Village Society.

Within the Asiad Village complex is an overhead water tank commonly known as Asiad Tower which was built before the Games. The tank supplies water to the complex. A revolving restaurant, Jhankar Banquets, came up later here. However, it was eventually sealed following a Supreme Court order due to alleged environmen­t norms violation.

The residents also complain of lack of a market. The DDA market doesn’t offer enough facilities and the residents have to go to nearby areas to buy essentials.

Councillor Meenu Pawar said, “I have ensured maintenanc­e of parks and work is still in progress. However, SDMC has to maintain the roads.” While an SDMC senior official said, “We have sent extra workers to ensure cleanlines­s. Work on roads is under considerat­ion.” Asiad Village has 853 flats, categorise­d into 17 blocks named after eminent sportspers­ons of India. The list of these sportsmen include Ranjit Singh, Chhota Singh, Bakhtawar Singh, Madan Lal, Malwa

Singh, Ganpat Andalkar, Chandgi Ram, KP Thacker, Hawa Singh, Sachin Nag, Padam Bahadur Mall, Maruti Mane, Kamaljit Sandhu, Mahabir Prasad, Makhan Singh, Nikka Singh and Lavy Pinto.

The site was developed for the athletes participat­ing in the 1982 Asian Games. The players building at Delhi Secretaria­t was also part of the Games, but due to lack of timely monitoring, the building couldn’t be completed on time.

Historical references suggest the village was built on the remains of Siri Fort. The fort’s 110 pillars connected it with other parts of the city like Hauz Khas and Tughlaqaba­d.

Although the nearby Ansal Plaza, Delhi’s first shopping mall isn’t as popular as it used to be when it came up, and South Extension market continues to draw visitors from Asiad Village.

The residentia­l colony shares an exclusive entry with Siri Fort auditorium, which is also the headquarte­rs of the Directorat­e of Film Festivals (DFF), ministry of informatio­n and broadcasti­ng.

Asiad Village shares its boundary with urban village Shahpur Jat, which is a hub of designerwe­ar, design workshops, boutiques and NGOs. It is among the nearest places to hangout.

crowd busy in the evenings. BHANU PRATAP SINGH, bank official from Sachin Nag block Dr RAVI BHUTANI, resident of Mahabir Prasad block

It keeps the arty

The colony needs to be upgraded according to the demands of modern times to ensure that the infrastruc­ture is people friendly. The interiors are as they were 37 years back and need immediate attention. The colony isn’t entirely in a state of neglect, but its maintenanc­e isn’t up to the mark. Senior officials should intervene and take necessary steps for its upgradatio­n.

 ??  ?? The complex was developed in 1982 for the athletes participat­ing in the Asian Games held in the Capital in the same year. HT FILE
The complex was developed in 1982 for the athletes participat­ing in the Asian Games held in the Capital in the same year. HT FILE
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 ??  ?? In the absence of upkeep, the parks are filled with garbage (above). The buildings in Khel Gaon follow the concept of ‘low rise, low density’, wherein a three-storey building is just 11m tall (right).
In the absence of upkeep, the parks are filled with garbage (above). The buildings in Khel Gaon follow the concept of ‘low rise, low density’, wherein a three-storey building is just 11m tall (right).
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