Page last updated at 09:43 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 10:43 UK

Court allows Indian Games village

Stadium under construction in Delhi
The government says that it is on target in its construction work

The Supreme Court in India has lifted restrictions on construction work at the site of next year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The court overruled a Delhi High Court order that had put the restrictions in place because of environmental worries.

Officials have warned that the country could miss out on hosting the games unless construction work gains pace.

They argued that a dispute over the building of an athletes' village in Delhi needed to be speedily resolved.

Seriously delayed

Critics say that improvements to infrastructure in the city are moving at an excruciatingly slow pace but the authorities say they remain on target to meet construction deadlines.

They say that construction work on several stadiums due to be used in the games has been seriously delayed.

Games organisers plan to build the athletes' village next to the River Yamuna.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government had observed "due process of the law" by issuing notice of its intention to begin construction work as long ago as September 1999, when it invited suggestions and objections from citizens and various organisations.

A petition challenging the construction activities was filed in 2007. The petition alleged that that construction activities were being carried out on the river bed and the flood plain of the Yamuna river.

"The High Court should not have entertained the petition at all," the Supreme Court ruling said.

Last week the head of the Commonwealth Games praised Delhi on progress made in preparations but added that deadlines still appeared to be narrow.

'Good progress'

Delhi 2010's mascot Shera
The 2010 Games will be the largest multi-sport event ever held in India

Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell met Indian officials and ministers on July 21.

"The organising committee is moving on the right path," he told the AFP news agency. "One is never satisfied till the work has been finished, but overall I got the feeling that things are under control."

"Concerns over deadlines and schedules remain, but I was satisfied to see that the government has paid a lot of attention to the preparations. They have made a good progress."

Mr Fennell said that he was also happy with security plans for the tournament, an issue which has been of some concern to people planning such events following last year's terror attacks in Mumbai.

His comments came after the Indian sports ministry conceded that only five of the 17 venues for training and competition were more than half completed.

The games are India's biggest event since the 1982 Asian Games and are scheduled for October 3-14.

Organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi said 90 percent of the stadiums would be ready by December and the remaining two stadiums would be completed in March 2010.

The government says that it hopes to upgrade thousands of guest houses in Delhi to cope with the rush of tourists expected fro the games.

A survey of more than 23,000 rooms in the capital city's guest houses has shown that only 11,000 will be able to meet the standards for budget tourists.

The survey, commissioned by India's tourism ministry, rated the rooms according to guidelines for hygiene, location, safety and security.

At least 75% are in the city's Paharganj area, known for its affordable hotels, restaurants and shops.

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