Saturday, January 17, 2009

Queensland specialist architecture company experiences success in India

Brisbane based specialist architecture company, HOK Sports Architecture, has recently completed a $1.78 million design project for the New Delhi

Exhibition Centre which is part of the infrastructure development for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Congratulating HOK Sports Architecture on their success today, Minister for Trade John Mickel said the company had participated in a Trade Mission to India last year and presented its capabilities at the Queensland - India Sports Infrastructure Partnership Forum held during this trade mission.

"Design work for the Delhi Exhibition Centre, to be located at Gurgaon near Delhi Airport, has now been completed under contract for DLF [Delhi Land Fund] in India," Mr Mickel said.

"Delhi's new, Queensland-designed, Exhibition Centre will encompass 30,000 square metres of exhibition space, a 12,000 seat plenary auditorium and 5,000 square metres of meeting space.

"It will also include a shopping mall, 700 hotel rooms, 100 serviced apartments and 6,000 undercover car parks. The total cost of this project is approximately USD$400 million.

"The new centre is part of the ongoing infrastructure development in New Delhi for the 2010 Commonwealth Games - the biggest sporting event held in India since the Asian Games in 1982.

"HOK Sport Architecture is an internationally successful architectural practice, specialising in sports architecture. Now a world leader in this field, HOK has designed over 840 projects with a construction value exceeding A$15 billion across 24 countries.

"HOK Sports Architecture is one of the key companies that the Government's export agency Trade Queensland has worked with over the years to pursue sports infrastructure projects in different markets, including India, providing the company with ongoing facilitation and information on market opportunities.

"HOK Sport Architecture won the 2008 Premier of Queensland Export award for small to medium sized business in the Services category, and India is a key target market for the firm," Mr Mickel said.

The Queensland Government, through Trade Queensland, is providing ongoing assistance to Queensland exporters seeking to pursue opportunities related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games that exist in the areas of sports infrastructure, event management, security, environment management and transport infrastructure.

Slum Eradication in Delhi leaves many poor homeless

Slum Eradication in DelhiHanso Devi moved to New Delhi from Rajasthan with just one hope, to make a better life for herself and her family. She, her husband, five children and other relatives erected a hut to live in, a home that provided shelter and a base for her husband's streetside blacksmith business.

The problem is that the land they built on belongs to the government. And the government has decided to take it back.

In a matter of minutes bulldozers level the place, leaving Devi and her family perched on a bed atop a sea of rubble. They have nowhere to go.

"They did it so fast that there was no time to take out anything. And the bulldozer broke everything on the way," Devi said."It's like we were picked up and thrown away," she said.

Bulldozers razed the makeshift home and hundreds of others earlier this month as the Indian government moves to improve New Delhi for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Officials say the land is for a road and the demolitions are simply part of a master plan to clean up the city and move slum-dwellers to proper housing.

But, the government says, there will be no relocation for families like Hanso Devi's because they do not meet relocation requirements.

The government says they are squatting too close to the road, and are located in a major development zone.

"You see they have encroached on the specific project lengths, there will be no notice, no relocation projects for them," said New Delhi Mayor Arti Mehra, who says she and the city are worried about those who have been left homeless.

About 3 million people live in New Delhi's slums, the government estimates. Mehra says New Delhi is slated to build 100,000 new apartments, though only 6,800 are under construction.

Critics say demolishing housing that has been here for years and relocating some residents but not others will hurt many who live on the margins of society.

"They'll be pushed to the brink," said A.K. Roy of the Hazards Centre Sanchal Foundation, a non-governmental organization.

"Eventually I think what the planners are doing, they are not realizing they'll be building up a pool of violence."

The people who live in New Delhi's slums are some of the city's maids, drivers, street vendors and day laborers. Roy argues the city could not survive without the services that the slum dwellers provide.

The slums may not have looked like much to outsiders, but to families who had lived there for years, they were everything. Their businesses, homes and temples were there. Now they are lost.

Some huts are still standing, for now. Among them is the home of Sheila Naurang Lal, built more than 20 years ago by the family who still lives there.

But that is little comfort for Lal as she sees what has happened to the homes a few yards from her house.

"I came to the road yesterday after being scared seeing the bulldozer," Lal says. "You must have seen the front part has been broken."

It has been two days since the latest slum eradication, but families are still eking out a living amid the ruins. A mother cooks for her children, a 90-year-old woman with a walker sits on her bed and someone's pet goat is tied up at a shrine, waiting for its owner.

Hanso Devi looks around as night falls. She will spend another night in the open with nothing to keep her warm but a small fire. "We are going to sleep right here. There is no place other than this."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Renowned Italian coach to groom Indian paddlers

Indian paddlersRenowned Italian coach Massimo Constantini will groom Indian paddlers for the 2010 Commonwealth Games scheduled in the capital.

The Steering Committee for the Games which met on Friday approved Constantini as the coach who would train the 40 'core probables' selected for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Constantini's appointment comes barely a fortnight after the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) decided not to extend the contract of Belarussian coach Aleksey Yefremov.

Constantini, a high-performance coach and coach education course conductor of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), has been working with the Seychelles team.

The Sports Ministry had earlier decided to train 40 core group players - 32 have already been identified - under the "Preparation of Indian Teams for Commonwealth Games, 2010" scheme.

Four Indian coaches, who would work with Constantini are Kamlesh Mehta, Manjit Dua, Bhawani Mukerjee and Mantu Ghosh.

Delhi Metro uses longest girders to build airport line route

Delhi MetroAchieving yet another milestone, the Delhi Metro has become the first in the country and third in the world to use extra long girders to build the elevated stretch of the Airport express line route.

The girders, which are 25 metres long and weigh about 120 tonnes each, are being used to expedite the construction process on the line as the schedule for completion of the project is before the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The use of girders will help the Metro cut its cost by nearly 10 per cent and time by around 20 per cent, a DMRC official said here.

Rail tracks of the Metro would be put on these girders, which are being made at a casting yard in Mahipalpur from where they are carried by specially designed trailers. These trailers are 35 metres long and have 64 tyres.

Two girders, which are placed on the pillars, are separated from each other by a distance of two inches as the girders expand and contract by an inch in summer and winter respectively.

The Airport Express line of the Delhi Metro is a 22.7 km long stretch of which a distance of seven kms is elevated. So far a total of 504 such girders will be used on the elevated stretch out of which 22 have already been launched.

The extra long girders, which are put on the elevated tracks between Buddha Jayanti Park and Mahipalpur of the line, have also been used in the metro in Shanghai and Taipei.

The trains on the Airport stretch will run at a speed of 135 km, making it the one of the fastest in the country as a trip from the New Delhi station to the Airport will take around 20 minutes to cover over 22 kms. If only online poker rooms would load the fast

DDA to provide 5,000 houses for Games tourists

In a bid to meet the current shortage of accommodation in the Capital for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Inter-Ministerial Group has given a go-ahead to the Delhi Development Authority’s proposal of providing 5,000 houses to the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC). According to the plan, these 5,000 houses will be furnished by the ITDC and then used to accommodate foreign tourists in the Capital for the 2010 Games.

Thereafter, the DDA will sell these houses through its usual lottery scheme.

Sources in the DDA have said that while they are yet to get an official directive from the Ministry of Urban Development, they are aware of the proposal and are equipped to meet the demand. “We currently have 14,000 houses under construction in Delhi and will definitely be able to hand

over 5,000 houses to the ITDC in time for them to furnish them before the Games. Almost 2,500 of these houses are in Vasant Kunj,” a senior DDA official said.

With a shortage of almost 30,000 hotel rooms in the Capital, meeting the huge gap in accommodation has been a major concern for the government.

The DDA as of now does not expect that the cost of these houses will go up significantly after they are spruced up by the ITDC. The DDA is expected to hand over these flats by March 9 this year, which the ITDC will hand back after the Games.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Commonwealth Games expenses to overshoot budget

Expenses for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India will overshoot the budgeted costs, the head of the organizing body said Tuesday.

Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the organizing committee and president of the Indian Olympic Association, said the budget for the multidiscipline event will increase due to the rising cost of construction.

"The games budget will increase considering the escalating prices of raw material used in construction," Press Trust of India quoted Kalmadi as saying after an inspection visit of the stadium that will stage athletics and the opening and closing ceremonies.

"We're building an international standard stadium here and we won't compromise on that," Kalmadi said. "The prices of steel and cement are high and we're taking that into consideration."

Two months ago, during an appraisal survey of the venues, the Commonwealth Games Federation said it was concerned over the slow pace of work, but Kalmadi said the construction and upgrading of venues would be completed in the next 12 months.

"We're on target and 30 percent of the work has been completed," Kalmadi said. "Most of the infrastructure will be ready by December and the test events will start in March next year."

The 2010 Commonwealth Games are scheduled for Oct. 3-14.

New Delhi was chosen to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games after several previous failed bids, becoming only the second Asian city to be allocated the event that features athletes from the former British Empire.

National Dope Testing Laboratory to examine 3,000 samples

National Dope Testing LaboratoryThe National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) is expected to heighten its testing capacitance to 3,000 samples from 2,000 in the current year.

This was disclosed at the first meeting of the general body and governing body of the NDTL here on Monday.

The meeting, chaired by Union Sports Minister M.S. Gill, approved the recruitment of 18 scientific and administrative staff, the tariff structure for testing of samples and a detailed action plan for enhancing the testing capacity of the lab. The general body approved Rs. 10 crore for purchasing equipment for enhancing the capacity. A special plan was approved for undertaking testing during the 2010 Commonwealth Games involving around 2,000 urine samples, 300 blood samples and 200 EPO samples over two weeks.

Bed&break scheme Ready for 2010 Games

Bed&break scheme Ready for 2010 GamesIn a span of little over a year, getting more than 950 rooms registered under the bed and breakfast scheme in NCR may be quite an achievement for the government, which is eying 10,000 additional rooms to accommodate tourists during 2010 Commonwealth Games . However, lack of publicity and marketing seems to be marring the business prospects.

Ministry of tourism's notification of this liberal scheme has received a good response with requests coming from all categories of colonies in the NCR from Golf Links to Paschim Vihar and from Gurgaon to Ghaziabad. The scheme has become popular as it holds the promise of generating `good' money for all those who have extra rooms to be used as "hotel rooms''.

Until recently, before the Mumbai mayhem which dented tourism-related business across the country, such accommodation located in upmarket areas had been getting enough guests, but the ones coming up in areas like Ganesh Nagar, Paschim Vihar and Janakpuri had been finding it difficult to get clients. Those who maintain that the scheme is `wonderfully' viable mention categorically that they get business because of word of mouth.

The families, who let out extra rooms in their homes to tourists, say they love the experience of hosting guests from a different country and culture. And the parting notes of visitors to these families also suggest that most guests have a memorable stay in the Indian household.

"We have made the rooms for hosting the tourists at our residence. But we also need proper marketing and publicity. How do we tell the tourists that we have rooms available for them?'' asked Sunil Narula, who offers two Gold-Class rooms in Connaught Place.

He pointed out how it was difficult for those who operate from far-off areas. There are `entrepreneurs' like Narula and Rashmi Ahuja of Golf Links, who have five such rooms, run their own portals to connect to the potential clients. "At the end of the day a smiling client revisits and brings more business. We don't advertise,'' Rashmi said.

Though the ministry of tourism has put up the addresses and phone numbers of such rooms on its website but when TOI called up, many were found either to be wrong numbers or none in that name was staying there.

Pawan Vaish, who has spared two rooms in his bungalow at the Jain Mandir Marg, said, "We had got the permission for hosting tourists in April this year and we got our first guests in the same month. But since then, we have just been depending on word-of-mouth publicity.'' He added the scheme hadn't been a total success. "The government should recognize at least the prime locations and market them,'' Vaish said.

Moreover, amid this mad rush to allow all and sundry, there have been words of caution for the tourism department too. "They must be selective about the homes and the person, who manages the task. In a small flat, keeping one room out of three for tourists might not serve the purpose of this scheme,'' Ahuja pointed out.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mass recruitment of police Personnel for commonwealth games

The police force in New Delhi is going to have a mass recruitment drive of police constables and other ranks keeping in view, the security arrangements for the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2010. Post Mumbai terror attacks the security during the commonwealth games is of prime concern for the government.

Delhi Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal, who heads the force, announced in a news conference that the recruitment is part of the drive to ensure security during the Games.

We have taken substantial steps to ensure security in the city. Recruitment at various levels has reached an advanced stage. Around 4,500 constables will join by March 15. We are announcing another 6,500 posts for constables and 550 (vacancies) for the sub inspector posts. Whatever vacant posts we have will be filled up by 2010 Common wealth Games. This is our plan and we hope to be successful in that, he added.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled to be held in New Delhi, between October 3 and October 14, 2010.

This is the first time the Commonwealth Games will be held in India, which will be the third developing country to host the event after Jamaica in 1966 and Malaysia in 1998. This is the second time the event has been held in Asia after 1998. India has previously hosted the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Haryana contributes with 7,000 rooms for Commonwealth Games

rooms for Commonwealth GamesHaryana is contributing with nearly 7,000 rooms for India’s showpiece event, the Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi, which is expected to see over 150,000 visitors but preparations for which are running sadly behind schedule.

The rooms being offered by Haryana will be in the National Capital Region (NCR).

"The government of India had demanded 10,000 rooms from Haryana Tourism in the NCR region for the Commonwealth Games. About 7,000 rooms are already ready and the remaining will be built and done up by 2009-end," Tourism and Sports Minister Kiran Chaudhary told IANS.

Haryana Tourism, the state government tourism agency once famous for the successful run of its highway resorts and eateries in the 1970s and 80s, is making sure that the rooms are in place for the October 2010 Games.

New Delhi is expected to receive over 150,000 visitors from India and abroad during the Games. Hotel industry experts put the requirement during the Games at over 30,000 rooms. Most of these will be in the budget hotel category. The host city at present has arrangements for just over 10,000 rooms.

Haryana surrounds Delhi from three sides with two major cities, Gurgaon and Faridabad, adjoining the national capital.

"The Indian government has sanctioned a sum of Rs.360 million to Haryana Tourism in the current financial year for upgradation of tourism infrastructure in the state. A total amount of Rs.870 million was sanctioned during the last four years - the highest recorded in the last 20 years," said Chaudhary.

Haryana even proposes to bring in legislation to adopt the government of India’s ’Bed and Breakfast’ (B&B) scheme on the Delhi pattern.

"With the formulation of a new tourism policy by the Haryana government, it would not be difficult for us to meet the demand for rooms and provide ample earning opportunities for people in the state," Chaudhary added.

The B&B scheme, evolved by the Delhi government last year, involves residents having properties and facilities in Delhi to lodge tourists coming from abroad and other states as paying guests within a regulated framework.

Residents of NCR areas in Haryana will be able to offer similar B&B facilities at affordable rates, tourism officials say.

Over half of the existing 800 hotel rooms in Haryana’s NCR areas are being upgraded, Chaudhary said.

"The new institute of hotel management (IHM) being set up in Rohtak will provide hotel industry professionals for the infrastructure being created for the games," Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said.

Global hotel investment service firm Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels (JLLH), in a recently released report, stated that New Delhi could get up to 50,000 foreign visitors for the Games.

Earlier in 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had expressed his dissatisfaction at the pace of preparedness for the Games, especially in developing infrastructure and providing rooms for the event.

The organising committee of the Games, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), and tourism and sports ministry officials had assured him that things would be in place before the event.

The national capital will have five new stadiums and a Games village for the Commonwealth Games 2010 to be held in October.

The Games are expected to cost India a whopping Rs.40 billion with much of the cost to be footed by the central government.