Two Christian human rights organisations came forward on Saturday with a demand that the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee set apart 10 per cent of the Games budget for the welfare of the “neediest sections” of the Delhi population.
Criticising the conduct of the Commonwealth Games by terming it “anti-poor” and causing displacement, child abuse and violation of labour laws, the Indian Christian Righteous Action Forum (ICRA) and the Poor Christians Liberation Movement (PCLM) in a joint statement dubbed the Games: “No Bread, All Tamasha”.
The two groups suggested the creation of a special Commonwealth Fund for homeless people and poor families in Delhi, to be utilised for taking care of their food, shelter and healthcare needs.
Citing estimates that peg the cost incurred in the conduct of the Games at several thousand crores, ICRA chairperson Joseph G. Anthony said the massive expenditure “throws light on the priorities” of the Indian Government.
“Is it ethically justifiable for a nation like India, with nearly 400 million people living on $1 a day to host such an expensive event? More than a million families have been evicted as a result of Games-linked development projects. Many street vendors, rickshaw pullers, small shopkeepers and food-stall owners have lost their livelihoods in the “clean-up”, ahead of the Games,” Mr. Anthony said.
The groups also alleged that funds allocated for the poor and marginalised communities had been diverted to fund the event.
“Much of the work is being done by over 400,000 migrant daily wage labourers. Most have come to Delhi with their children, who are being exposed to hazards on the streets of New Delhi, as their parents toil to build Commonwealth Games venues and related infrastructure,” the ICRA said.
Noting that most of these children and Delhi's homeless children live in squalid conditions without access to toilet facilities, both organisations said they were anguished by the “indifference” shown by the elected leaders.
The organisations also called on the media to highlight the “humanitarian crisis looming large because of the Games'.