The state government has offered to buy the Rs 57 crore aerostat, the star attraction at the Commonwealth Games 2010 opening and closing ceremonies, for free.
The state government wrote to the sports ministry last month expressing their wish to procure the aerostat — a giant helium balloon — which has been lying packed in Delhi for more than two years now.
The Commonwealth Games organizing committee, which owns the giant aerostat, initially tried to auction the impressive stuff for a base price of Rs 8 crore. With no buyers coming forward, the CWG organizing committee decided to hand over the white elephant of the Games to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) but the organization said they could make little or no use of the expensive equipment.
Jarnail Singh, CEO, Organising Committee, CWG, has reportedly confirmed that the aerostat will be handed over to Goa for a token sum of Re 1.
According to stipulations, the organizers cannot charge any money from a government agency.
"The state government has asked the aerostat for free," secretary (sports) Keshav Chandra informed in a text message to TOI on Thursday.
The state government plans to use the aerostat for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Lusofonia Games later this year.
Even though the state government has managed to get the aerostat for free, using it will not come cheap. The operational cost is expected to be huge with those in the know saying the helium, required to keep the Aerostat afloat, costs a minimum of Rs 75 lakh for a single filling.
"Then there will be the setting up cost. It could run into crores of rupees but if you look at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, you can easily tell that the aerostat was the cynosure of all eyes. It looked awesome and created a beautiful impression. We can win everyone's hearts," said a senior official of the Sports Authority of Goa.
The aerostat has been described as an "impressive dramatic piece that can support theatrical lighting, video projections on its surface and suspension of scenic elements." [TOI]