Andrew Buncombe: War on mosquitoes in fight to get Delhi ready for Games

Related Topics

If the fate of the Commonwealth Games depends on the efforts of people such as Sanjay Kumar, then one can take comfort from the attention to which the young man was giving his work.

As teams of cleaners set about fixing the athletes' village – removing human faeces, repairing plumbing and generally making the apartments habitable – the 23-year-old was last night busy outside the complex trying to deal with another major problem: mosquitoes. With a plastic tank of insecticide strapped to his back, the slightly built man was part of a team spraying the area next to a metro station adjacent to the complex. "We're trying to control the breeding of the mosquitoes," said Mr Kumar, who was hired three weeks ago by the Delhi authorities.

Of all of the problems confronting the organisers, the pesky mosquito deserves a special category. More than 2,000 people have fallen sick to dengue fever this summer, and peak season for the disease-spreading mosquitoes coincides with the start of the event. A number of athletes who have pulled out of the games have cited health concerns for their decision.

Close to where Mr Kumar was working stood a large yellow hoarding sign in Hindi which read: "Keep your surroundings clean."

The young man was doing his best to follow such commands, but monsoon rains have left pools of stinking water sitting stagnant in stadiums and other facilities across the city. Parts of the games village itself are also flooded.

Inside the village, officials were resorting to more aggressive methods, using machines to create huge clouds of anti-mosquito smoke that drifted across the verdant green track that is to be used for practice laps by runners. The smoke scared off a scraggy stray dog that had been taking the opportunity to limber up, under the eye of armed police and security personnel.

Officials insisted that work was under way to clean and complete the apartments to be used by athletes, though spooked by the efforts of several journalists earlier in the week who slipped in to take a rather unsettling look for themselves, they had ruled that the clean-up operation was off-limits to the press. One sensed that from the very highest level the word had gone out: we need to get this done.

One of those who will bear responsibility if things do not get completed is Sheila Dikshit, Delhi's chief minister and a woman who has been – either willingly or otherwise – a leading cheerleader for the event.

Yesterday evening, with the stadium lights throwing shadows across the grass, she emerged from a meeting to step into her official white Ambassador car, forcing a smile when confronted by another reporter.

"We are very confident," she told The Independent. "But we have a lot of things to tie up and are working very hard to do that."

Mr Kumar was also hoping for the best. Though he had been working for three weeks, he had not yet been paid a rupee and was not even sure how much he was to earn. In addition, he had also suffered a number of bites from mosquitoes. "We are putting in our hard work," he explained. "We want the games to happen."

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - (Full marketing mix) - Knutsford

£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Knu...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A picture posted by Lubitz to Facebook in February 2013  

Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder

Simon Calder
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, presides at the reinterment of Richard III yesterday  

Richard III: We Leicester folk have one question: how much did it all cost?

Sean O’Grady
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world