COMMONWEALTH GAMES ‘SLUMDOG’ CHILD LABOUR SCANDAL

THE Commonwealth Games were “on a knife edge” yesterday as it emerged the crumbling stadiums have been built by children.

Tots as young as three were drafted in to work on dangerous building sites to prepare for the event in Delhi.

And a two-year-old girl was among up to 1,000 people killed during construction after her dad brought her to work.

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Yesterday the roof of the weightlifting arena caved in, sending rubble cascading down to the judges’ seats.

As the catalogue of disasters mounted yesterday, it appeared increasingly likely the event, which is due to start in 10 days, would have to be called off.

We told yesterday how 28 workers were hurt at the main stadium site on Tuesday when a concrete bridge collapsed.

And competing nations have lined up to slam the athletes’ village as “unfit for human habitation”.

But as Games bosses tried to patch up their stadiums, the child labour scandal caused new fury around the world.

Parents working on the sites were paid in extra bread and milk if they brought their children along to help out.

One 15-year-old lad employed at the main stadium, Sri Prakash, complained the work was tough.

“It’s hard work and it’s heavy on the body,” said Sri, who was paid around £2.20 for a 12-hour shift.

Pre-school children were forced to shovel pebbles into bags, which were then carried away by older children, witnesses said.

And in August, a two-year-old girl called Varsha died after being run over at the Jawaharlal Nehru complex.

Officially 42 workers have died during construction, but sources said the true figure was “much, much higher”.

One insider said: “It’s been hushed up.”

Asked how many people could have died, the source replied: “It could be pushing 1,000.”

Local laws say 10% of construction fees must go towards worker safety, but reports said that of £5.2million set aside, just £3,200 had been spent.

And last month the UN’s human rights special investigator to the Games, Miloon Kothari, said the event should be called off, claiming it had “brought displacement and suffering for thousands of poor people in the city”.

He also highlighted “unreported violations of human rights being perpetuated by different government agencies”.

Welsh team bosses gave Games organisers a deadline of last night to prove the venues were “fit for purpose”.

They will decide today whether they will pull out of the event. There are fears that once one nation boycotts the games, an avalanche of others will follow.

England will fly out as planned tomorrow, but team chief Sir Andrew Foster said the event was “on a knife edge”.

He said “the next 24 to 48 hours is the critical time” to see if it can go ahead.

“The safety of the athletes has to be our primary concern, but we also have to evaluate the whole thing,” he added.

And Scotland’s team yesterday said they would delay their departure while their living quarters are made safe.

English triple jumper Phillips Idowu, 31, 400m runner Christine Ohuruogu, 26, and 1500m star Lisa Dobriskey, 26, have all pulled out, but swimmer Rebecca Adlington, 21, and sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis, 28, are set to go.

William Hill has cut the odds of the games being called off from 4-1 to 3-1.

There were also allegations of a cover-up as photographers who took pictures of the ceiling collapse claimed security guards destroyed their cameras.

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit dismissed talk of abandoning the games, calling recent events “minor glitches”.

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