Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Public holiday on last day of 2010 Games

The stadia are in various stages of construction, roads are yet to be laid, and training of sports-persons is still in initial stages, but that hasn’t stopped the Organizing Committee (OC) from deciding that the Commonwealth Games 2010 deserves to be enshrined in public memory.

It has been decided that the day of the closing ceremony would be declared a public holiday — at least in universities and schools across the city.

Chairperson of Organizing Committee for Commonwealth Games 2010 Suresh Kalmadi said, ‘‘The opening ceremony, scheduled for October 3, is on a Sunday. But the day of the closing ceremony on October 14 is not a holiday. So, we’ve had discussions with the Delhi government and decided that the day would be declared a holiday — for college and schools students at least — as the games are youth-oriented.’’

What would add to the fun is the fact that colleges and schools would have their autumn break at that time.

Delhi to Have 5,000 cabs before Games

In developed cities around the world, taxis continue to be the preferred mode of transport for tourists. Even those traveling long distances either take cabs or use them as a feeder to reach a Metro station or bus terminus since, unlike other modes, familiarity with the city and its localities is not required for traveling in a taxi.

In keeping with this view, Delhi government chalked out a plan to revive the near non-existent cab culture in the capital before the Commonwealth Games and the introduction of radio cabs was part of this plan. Today, there are half-a-dozen radio taxi operators in Delhi with a total fleet size of over 1,500 taxis. In addition, over 4,500 traditional black and yellow cabs are also operational.

However, one can’t hail a taxi from the road as is possible in almost all other developed countries. The radio cabs experiment did prove to be a hit — the cars are always booked and the waiting time for getting one could be as much as 40-45 minutes during peak hours. This has prompted the state transport department to expand the scheme. ‘‘Only last month, we opened the floor to more operators and also allowed existing radio cab operators to add more cars to their fleets. The permits for this have already been given out. The idea is to have about 5,000 radio cabs running before the Commonwealth Games,’’ said a senior official.

Fresh permits have been given to three of the existing operators, who will add 500 cabs each to their fleets. The decision was taken after the government was flooded with requests to increase the number of radio cabs. The target response time being looked at is not more than 15 minutes, and commuters will also be able to hail taxis from the road.

But even as radio cabs came as a major relief from the traditional taxis, there are complaints that their quality is deteriorating. The cars are no longer as clean and commuters have also started haggling with cab drivers settling for a fare less than the meter reading, on condition that the driver doesn’t give a receipt for the journey.

There are several operators, each having its own quality standards. To streamline this, the transport department is in the final stages of drafting service conditions for radio taxi operators. The government and traffic police also plan to train taxi drivers before the Games to impart basic communication skills, conversational English, courteous behavior and information on tourist places.

Autocracy Continues

Autos continue to be a sore point. There are about 55,000 autos, a number fixed by the SC and this, officials say, is the main problem for the mess —the number can’t be increased and the demand is very high. The transport department says the enforcement wing is short-staffed and with officials being deployed on other areas like BRT corridor, truck checking, Bluelines, it is not possible to check autos. The department has a plan to streamline the permit system and make it biometric. This way, records of all the auto and their owners/drivers will be updated too. The traffic police, too, are in the process of revamping the prepaid system.

Major Overhaul needed for Delhi Public Transport System

Metro has changed the way Delhi travels but a lot needs to be done to revamp the capital’s public transport, especially buses, before Games

The capital has often been riled for not overhauling its rickety, unreliable and, at times, killer public transport (read Bluelines). Even though Metro brought about a much-needed image makeover, Delhi has a lot of ground to cover. And Commonwealth Games 2010 came as a godsend opportunity for city government to revamp the public transport. An integrated plan with Delhi Metro as the backbone, along with buses, taxis, LRT and monorail as supplementary modes, was envisaged for transforming the way city moves.

Even as Metro projects are largely on schedule, the bus service may need special attention, especially after a Supreme Court mandate that Delhi needs no less than 11,000 buses. The state transport department’s plan to augment the DTC fleet is in fast lane and the city already has 625 new buses, including 25 AC ones. Orders for another 3,500 buses have been placed and they may start rolling in by next month. DTC will get over 6,000 buses by next year. The routes are being redone with the total number of bus routes being increased from existing 357 to 670.

But DTC fleet will account for only 60% of the total buses. For the remaining, the transport department has planned replacing Blueline buses with private bus fleet run by corporate. For this, the city has been divided into 17 clusters, each comprising a bunch of overlapping bus routes, to be run by one entity. The new system is aimed at eradicating competition between different bus operators running on the same route, as this was seen as the main problem with the Blueline fleet. The new timetables for the fleet will be made using a new technology to ensure that no trips go wasted.

But more than a year after the scheme was finalized; the government is yet to award an operator to run the first cluster. As per the first deadlines set by the transport department, the first lot of over 200 buses should have been operational by July this year. But far from that, even the contract has not been awarded. According to sources, the plan has run into rough weather because the government was unable to estimate the huge cost.

The lowest bidder for the first cluster, Star Bus Ltd, has quoted a rate of Rs 47.50 per km per bus. The government will have to pay Rs 85 crore per annum to the operator for 230 buses plying 200 km daily. It is a 10-year commitment to pay and the fares will need to be revised from time to time. This, sources say, is going to put a huge burden on the government.

The tenders for the remaining 16 clusters have also been put on hold till the fate of the first one is decided. Now, it seems unlikely that the clusters will get operational before the Games as the awardees of the clusters will need time to procure new buses, get staff and set up control rooms. The transport department has set a time of about 6 months from the day the tender is awarded for these formalities.

The other project which has gone off track is the controversial Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which received a major setback when trial runs on the pilot corridor between Ambedkar Nagar and Moolchand resulted in a major public outcry. Now, Pilot B, the second design for BRT with bus lanes on the extreme left, will get operational on the remaining part of the pilot stretch — Moolchand to Delhi Gate in September. Till then, six more BRT corridors planned have been put on hold till the working of Pilot B is seen.

Transport Department’s SPV Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) is also working on an integration plan to connect all the modes of transport by means of integrated terminals and a common ticketing system. But not much has progressed.

With all the projects in place, the government had envisaged a reduction in private vehicles on Delhi roads — almost 1,000 vehicles are added to the existing 51 lakh-odd vehicles. Over 70 flyovers are coming up and important road projects like an east-west road link between the Games Village and Lodhi Road and strengthening of the Ring Road are expected to ease the situation further.

Expecting One Lakh Tourist During Games: Organizing Committee

The Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee expects almost one lakh tourists, including officials for the Games to be hosted in Delhi. Speaking to a national daily recently, Suresh Kalmadi, Chairman, Organizing Committee for the Commonwealth Games 2010 said that all steps will be taken to ensure complete branding of Delhi.

Kalmadi added that preparations for the Games were going in the right direction and infrastructure work linked with the Games, including the stadiums, will be complete well before the Games next year.

Commenting on the accommodation facilities in the capital city and the NCR region, Kalmadi said the problem of shortage of good three-star accommodation, will be partly solved with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) offering around 3,300 rooms.

As reported by TravelBiz Monitor earlier, these rooms will be furnished and managed by India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) for guests during the Games. Kalmadi also informed that a Games Travel Office will be opened at The Ashoka Hotel and all information regarding travel and accommodation will be made available through the Commonwealth Games website starting October 2009. He said that security of athletes and venues was being given maximum attention and a security buffer will be erected on routes where athletes and officials will move.

Killer Games: Claimed One More Life at Commonwealth Games site

A 25-year-old laborer was killed and two others were injured when a concrete mixer truck toppled over them at a construction site in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium where work was under way for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The truck fell sideways after the soil underneath it became soft due to rain at the multilevel parking construction site around 12.10 p.m. Three men who were working at the site came under it.

Sunil from Jharkhand was declared dead at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences while the other two - Nepal, 40, and Muktilal, 45 - were said to be recuperating in the hospital.

The police said the truck was positioned on the edge of a tunnel that was excavated around 10 feet to construct the boundary wall.

We have registered a case of negligence against the driver and the contractor in the Lodhi Colony police station, said a policeman.

Special Schemes to Woo Foreign tourists: Tourism Minister Kumari Selja

The Indian government has initiated several schemes to woo foreign tourists following a sharp decline in the number of footfalls in the first quarter of the year because of the financial meltdown, Tourism Minister Kumari Selja told the Rajya Sabha Thursday.

The minister, in reply to a query by member A. Elavarasan, said her ministry, through its Indiatourism offices overseas, has launched a series of promotional activities to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals (FTA).

The gamut of activities include advertising, participation in travel fairs, exhibitions, road shows, India evenings, workshops, food and cultural carnivals, publication of brochures, inviting media personalities, tour operators and opinion-makers to visit the country under the hospitality programme of the ministry, she said.

In addition, a Visit India 2009 scheme has also been announced by the tourism ministry.

The Marketing Development Assistance Scheme of the ministry has been expanded to provide financial assistance to service providers for the promotion of medical and convention and conference tourism in the country, the minister said.

Citing statistics, Selja said the number of tourist arrivals between January-June 2009 was just 2.47 million, which was nearly 9.3 per cent the number for the corresponding period in 2008. The year 2008 clocked nearly 5.6 per cent increase in the number of FTA over 2007.

In reply to another question in the upper house, she said the tourism ministry had assessed that the capital and NCR would require 40,000 hotels rooms under different categories for the Commonwealth Games 2010.

She said properties (hotels) were being developed by various private agencies in the capital, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to accommodate the visitors.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Are You CWG trainee: Mind it No Insurance Cover for You

It finds a prominent mention in the guidelines issued by the central government for preparing the teams for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Yet, a year after training schedules began all over the country; insurance cover for athletes is still being discussed in the upper echelons of the Sports Authority of India.

The Baljit Singh incident might have shaken them up a little but in the aftermath, SAI and government officials haven't actually shown the urgency that was expected of them. "We are in the process of insuring players," a top sports ministry official said. "SAI has been vested with the responsibility and the process should be completed in a month."

The good news is that the government agency has reportedly identified the insurance agencies and worked out the other details but the depressing bit in the entire episode is that it took a long time in deciding how to go about the task.

It may sound too routine, given the Indian approach to sport, to discuss medical insurance or for that matter, the unforeseeable future, but the serious eye injury to Baljit has changed it all, with the spotlight now being on the uncertainty and insecurity that surround an athlete's life.

"The booklet, issued last year, states that the central government would provide funds to SAI to provide insurance cover - including personal accident insurance and hospital expenses - for sportsperson, coaches and support staff in the core group for the Commonwealth Games.

But no headway was made. It's only recently that the team's wing completed the groundwork and sent it to the top bosses where it is awaiting clearance. The proposal has to be sent to the CWG steering committee for its approval.

Honor for India: Now Honor for World

Commonwealth Games baton to be received by Abhinav Bindra

Beijing Olympics gold medal winning shooter Abhinav Bindra will be the first Indian baton bearer of the 2010 Commonwealth Games and will receive it from Queen Elizabeth II in London in October.

"It is indeed a great honor and pride for India," Bindra said.

The Queen's Baton Relay is a curtain raiser to every Commonwealth Games since 1958. The baton relay will take off from London on October 29 and will cover 70 nations.

On arrival at the opening ceremony in Delhi, the baton would have traveled over 190,000 km over 340 days and this will make the Baton Relay one of the longest in the history of the Commonwealth Games.

The relay will conclude with the final baton-bearer entering the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Games on October 3, 2010.

Visiting India For CWG - Travel Cards for You

The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) will be introducing a ‘Travel Card’ for the Commonwealth Games 2010 scheduled in New Delhi.

The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) will be introducing a ‘Travel Card’ for the Commonwealth Games 2010 scheduled in New Delhi.

Mr Rajji Rai, the association’s president, said the travel card will enable tourists to use any mode of transport in the city without any hassles.

“TAAI will market this card all over New Delhi through its network of travel agents and also through State tourism departments,” he told presspersons here recently.

For the first time in India, he said, the association was planning to organize an international trade fair in Mumbai next year on the lines of World Tourism Meet held in London every November and China International Tourism Meet. The event will showcase India as a perfect tourism destination and also have B2B exhibitions, where hotels, airlines and other organization connected to tourism can participate.

In response to a question, Mr Rai said there had been no visible slack in flow of inbound and outbound tourists in India in the first six months of 2009 as compared to the corresponding period last year. The local tourism industry can be given a significant boost if there was adequate infrastructure. “We are seriously in shortage of hotel rooms and connectivity,” he pointed out.

The association, as part of its Vision 2020 project, will identify critical factors that will impact the development of national tourism.

The programme is aimed at enhancing tourism connections with national and international tourism boards with extensive road-shows, exhibitions, adventure tours and medical tours.

YSC to Have Double Tin Walls For Security Purposes

To strengthen security for the Commonwealth Games, twin rings of tin sheets are likely to be put up along the Yamuna Sports Complex - one of the venues for the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2010. The proposal, though in its incipient stages, plans to install along the stadium’s periphery a pair of tin sheets — running parallel to each other — with sand packed in between. The pair of tin sheets, sandwiched with sand, will act as a bullet-resistant cordon around the stadium.

The final decision on this, however, is yet to be taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs, MHA. According to sources, samples of different sheets have been put up at the Yamuna Vihar Sports Complex. According to the proposal, the pair of tin sheets would line the grills around the stadium. “We have presented the plan to the organizing committee of the Commonwealth Games in the MHA and their final nod is still pending,” a senior Delhi police officer said.

“Meanwhile, we have invited manufacturers to showcase their products and a few have been put up at the Yamuna Sports Complex for scrutiny.” Sources said there was a plan earlier to construct a 2.8-metre high wall around the Sports Complex. But it was dropped considering the forbidding cost and the inevitable cutting down of trees, they said.

“Construction of a wall would be more time-consuming and costly. Moreover, we would have to cut trees surrounding the fencing. Not only are these sheets cost effective, they can also be sold for more than half the price after the Games are over,” a highly-placed source said.

Research proposal for Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games

The Indian Institute of Management, Shillong (IIM-S) and the International Sports Tourism Research co-Laboratory (i-Team) of Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA have jointly proposed a research project on the Commonwealth Games to be hosted in New Delhi in 2010.

As a part of the exploratory discussions, a round table conference on the proposed project was organized by IIM, Shillong here on Monday.

The IIM Shillong and Drexel University’s i-Team will join hands to plan and execute an international research programme for scholars and graduate students titled ‘Sports India’.

The objective of the project is to expand know-how on professional management in sports through field and case studies as well as allied research in India. This research project on 2010 Commonwealth Games is a part of this contrive.

Another notable aspect of this research project is to expand local experiences globally by sharing the experience of the 2010 Commonwealth Games to other sports organizations and academic institutions in India and abroad.

The medium of sharing this experience will be through presentation of research findings, website postings, reports and scholarly in-depth articles in relevant journals.

There are four research components in the 2010 Commonwealth Games project. These will include resident perceptions study, consumer profiles and economic impacts, social-cultural impacts and an analysis of the organizing committee’s function.

Dr. Douglas Michele Turco, the Director of i-Team said that the 2010 Commonwealth Games would prove profitable for India in future.

“The games will be safe and will be profitable in years to come. How will Delhi use these facilities, that are to be determined,” said Dr. Douglas.

Considering the pace of preparations for the Commonwealth Games, Prof. Ashok K Dutta; Director of IIM(S) expressed his doubts on the implementation of the research programme and at the same time assured that the institute would actively participate in the project and fulfill its contributions.

“Those who were present in today’s conference, for them the research is important but I am not too sure that to what extent they will implement it because at the moment priorities are getting the infrastructure ready for the Commonwealth Games, to start the program and get everything set. So the idea of research might take a back seat but we will be at it,” he added.

New Delhi had bagged the assignment to hold the 2010 Commonwealth Games after beating the Canadian city Hamilton in the bid for the games.

CGF OKs Delhi's preparations for Games

Commonwealth Games Federation (CWGF) chairman Mike Fennel Tuesday met Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and expressed satisfaction with the preparations of the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) that are scheduled to take place in the national capital.

Delhi is doing extremely well to make the ensuing Commonwealth Games a grand success, Fennel stated after a meeting with Dikshit at the Delhi Secretariat.

Fennel said he is satisfied with all the preparations and confident that all ongoing projects would be completed on time.

The main purpose of the meeting was to review ongoing preparations for the ensuing 2010 CWG. Indian Olympic Association President and Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi accompanied Fennel.

Fennel wanted to know about the training programmes for the volunteers, cultural events to be organized during CW Games and availability of accommodation for visitors. He stated that the city of Delhi would definitely be benefited with the CW Games and solid preparations are on in Delhi and added that he has seen a presentation on 'Look of the City during games' which is quite satisfactory.

The chief minister informed that banners and other games related publicity material would be displayed on various routes from the airport to different venues from January 2010 onwards.

Fennel stated that security is a matter of concern for all countries and informed that a General Assembly Meeting of participating Commonwealth countries is scheduled in October this year. Executive members of the CWGF would also participate in the meeting.

The participants would also be visiting different venues and ongoing construction sites of stadia.

The Commonwealth Games 2010 Baton Relay would arrive in Delhi September 29, 2010 which would be taken in various localities in the capital city before it reaches the opening venue of the 2010 CWG on October 3, 2010, said an official statement here.

He further stressed upon the need for coordinated efforts between various agencies.

The chief minister gave the status of Bed and Breakfast scheme for visitors which would supplement number of beds required during the Games.

It was also informed that a training centre for volunteers has been identified at Moti Bagh. This centre is centrally air-conditioned with 3000 sq meter floor area. A number of training modules have also been finalized. The volunteers would be deployed from the NSS, NCC, different Universities and Nehru Yuva Kendra, the statement added.

Fresh Allocations of Rupees 98650 million for CWG 2010

The Union Government has estimated Rs 98650 million for the up coming Commonwealth Games, at Delhi.

Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Pratik Patil stated in a written reply to Congress MP Ramchandra Khuntia in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Patil also said, out of estimated Rs 98650 million, the Central Government has approved for the release of Rs. 17700 million to the Delhi Government, for various sports, and civic projects related to the Commonwealth Games, 2010.

The projects of Delhi Government would entail expenditure of Rs. 90000 million and Delhi Government would meet the balance funds from their own resources, Patil informed members. Patil also assured the house that the work related to the Commonwealth Games would be completed in time for the Games.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Supreme Court Reserves Judgement on CWG Village PIL

The Supreme Court reserved its verdict on a petition challenging the Delhi High Court judgment of staying the ongoing constructions on the Yamuna river bed for the 2010 Commonwealth games.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrisnan, Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan reserved the judgment after hearing all the parties, including the Union government, delhi Development Authority (DDA) and 2010 CWG organizing committee.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium contended before the court that the construction was not on the river bed and that the Supreme Court had cleared the construction of Akshardham Temple, which according to the authorities was at a distance of 1.7 Km from the river bed and India’s claim for staging 2010 Commonwealth Games will be in jeopardy if the construction stopped at this stage.

Out of 34 towers for the sports complex, 32 were already completed and all requisite clearances had been taken for the concerned agencies including Ministry of Environment and Forest.

Mr. Subramanium also contended that the High Court had erred in interfering with the ongoing constructions for the games on the basis of PIL filed by some vested interests.

Senior counsel Andhiya Rjuna appearing for the organizing committee contended before the court that Rs 2000 crores have already been spend on the construction of about 1100 flats and sports complex meant for athletes from 71 countries who will be participating in the 2010 games, which starts in October next year.

Mr.. Sanjay Parikh appearing for the respondent, however, contended that the ongoing construction was in violation of environmental laws and no construction could be permitted within the vicinity of Yamuna river bank as the river is already dying and this is the main source of water for Delhites.

Mr. Parikh also contended that he was not asking for any interim stay against the ongoing construction. But the expert committee must be permitted to carry on its job of ascertaining whether any construction are permissible in the area and whether it would damage the environment, which may also lead to water crisis in the city in future.

He also contended that he has no objection to the completion of the games but once the games were over this court must consider the report of the expert committee, which it may keep till the games are over.

He also read out from the report of the expert committee of ministry of MES, which had disapproved any construction on the river bed.

Sports Promoting Companies to be Rewarded by Indian Government

India has set up an annual government award for companies which promote sports in the medal-starved nation, domestic media reported on Thursday.

"The awards have been devised to honor those who have been promoting sport financially or nurturing budding talent," senior sports ministry official Injeti Sriniwas told Hindustan Times.

It would be among the sports prizes given by the country's president every year with companies spending 50 million rupees ($1 million) or more annually on sports promotion eligible to apply.

The move comes as India bids to stage the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. Indian companies heavily sponsor cricket and most of the other sports are forced to rely on government funds.

Source: This news is from a leading English Daily Hindustan Times...

Friday, July 17, 2009

After Flowers Now Bamboos For Delhi: Gameplan 2010

If you don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. That seems to be the view of the authorities as they spruce up the Capital for next October’s Commonwealth Games.

Besides placing nearly 60 lakh potted plants around all Games venues and stadiums, here’s the latest: the Delhi government is now looking at planting bamboo trees along roads leading to Games hotspots.

Reason: to screen the slums and garbage along the roads that will be frequented by visitors and athletes taking part in the Games.

The directive to ‘screen’ areas along roads leading to Games venues was reportedly given to the government during a meeting held with Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi and Minister of state for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor earlier this week.

“It was decided to consider the option (since) bamboo trees are tall and shady,” Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta said. He said the Public Works Department (PWD) is in charge of carrying out the plan, as most sections are under its jurisdiction.

The department is meanwhile consulting the National Bamboo Mission and National Mission of Bamboo Application to see whether planting bamboos is feasible in the city.

“We also need to see how feasible it is to sustain the trees once the Games are over,” PWD Secretary K K Sharma, who visited the Mission on Friday, said. “We have floated the idea to them (officials at bamboo mission) and asked them to get back with feedback within a week.”

Incidentally, the Delhi government recently inaugurated a bamboo park with nearly 35 species in Garhi Mandu, near the Yamuna bank, in consultation with the Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute.

The tallest members of the grass family, bamboos are supposed to be the fastest-growing trees, growing about 60 centimetres a day.

The government is spending around Rs 260 crore on beautifying areas within a 2-km radius of all Commonwealth Games venues. This aside, the municipal corporation will spend about Rs 67 crore to construct pedestrian and cycle tracks along 12 roads leading to Games venues.

No Venues for Softball association in Delhi

With the Asian Youth Softball Championships tentatively marked for December this year, the Softball Association of India is leaving no stone unturned in scouting for a suitable location in the Capital to host the event. As all locations within the city are under construction or renovation for the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the organizers are forced to find a venue in the outskirts of Delhi.

Excited about the prospect of hosting the championships in Delhi for the first time, Praveen Anaokar, secretary general, Softball Association of India is also uneasy about the situation.

“We have zeroed in on the Palam and Dwarka area. But nothing is certain till the Asian Softball Confederation send a delegation to mark their approval,” he told Sportline, adding, “The delegation is expected to arrive within the next two weeks. We are working hard to meet the deadlines.”

With about a dozen Asian teams participating in the under-19 edition in December, Anaokar believes that India stands a good chance to win the event. “We finished runners-up in the 1998 edition in Chennai, and we have always done well in softball. So you never know, maybe we could win it this time.”

Although softball is not a popular sport in India, the country has previously hosted two Asian Softball Championships in the past, at Chennai and Aurangabad. Anaokar claims the game has a future with the masses if it is promoted well. “Softball is exactly like baseball, but the pitcher throws the ball underarm. It is an Olympic medal sport and Asian countries dominate the proceedings,” explains Anaokar.

MTNL to be telecom service provider to Commonwealth Games

MTNL has struck gold. It has bagged a huge opportunity for branding and revamping MTNL’s image in India and perhaps overseas, by being appointed the telecom service provider for Commonwealth Games, Delhi 2010. It is learnt that several other private sector telecom service providers were also in the race for this mandate, but MTNL has emerged the final winner.

The reason for the interest shown by many service providers is that it offers firms a rare opportunity to associate their brand with a global sporting event of this significance. The association enhances status, redefines values, and allows the company to launch new products and services in the 443-day lead up to Commonwealth Games as well as during and after the Games.

The organizing committee of the Commonwealth Games, Delhi 2010, has officially appointed MTNL through a communication dated 6th June 2009. This engagement is a result of long negotiations held over many months between MTNL and the organizing committee, subject to terms and conditions including scope of work, service level norms and other commercial arrangements that have been finalized between the two parties.

The signing of the formal contract between the Games organizing committee and MTNL is expected soon. Confirming the development, MTNL’s CMD, RSP Sinha told.

"MTNL’s appointment as the telecom service provider to Commonwealth Games, Delhi 2010, is a matter of tremendous prestige. We plan to use the run up to the Games as a period to deliver the latest services on world class, state-of-the-art technology platforms to athletes, officials and visitors during the Games."

It is clear that while MTNL will need serious investment to upgrade the Delhi infrastructure, the long-term beneficiary of such investments will be the average telecom user in the city.

MTNL has plans to invest both on the wireless and wireline to provide world class connectivity. Global data transmission across the world will be at an all-time high during the games, and that’s where MTNL’s network will need to excel by meeting global standards.

I&B ministry shortlists five for CWG coverage

The Information &Broadcasting ministry has short listed five companies for production and coverage of Commonwealth Games 2010. The companies, including Reliance-owned Big and Nimbus, will work in association with international media companies to produce content for the Games.

The companies will be given a request for proposal as the next step in the selection process. I&B ministry sources said international companies with extensive experience in covering major events like Olympics and World Cup have been selected.

Among the short listed companies is Swiss-based International Games Broadcast Services (IGBS), formerly known as DAGBS. This is a joint venture between HBS and IMG Media. While HBS has been host broadcaster to 2002, 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups, IMG Media is a well known sports and media enterprise that has interests in event ownership and management, and has client representation in golf, tennis, European football and action sports.

The second company is Satellite Information Service Live, UK, a consortium of SIS Outside Broadcast and Satellite Services Ltd, is the foremost supplier of television programming and data services to the UK and Ireland betting industry. In addition, it has long-term contracts with other leading broadcasters, such as Sky and ITV, to provide live coverage of news and sports events, including Formula 1 and Rugby World Cup.

The third company to be shortlisted is Nimbus Sports International Pte Ltd, Singapore, in consortium with International Sports Broadcasting, USA (ISB). The lead partner, ISB was formed 10 years ago and has been actively involved in broadcasting for Olympics since 1998. ISB has been producing many sports events for the past 30 years.

Nimbus Communications Ltd, Mumbai, in consortium with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, has also been shortlisted. The fifth in the fray is Big Productions — a division of Reliance Big Broadcasting Private Ltd — in association with Interpublic Marketing Services (Shanghai) Ltd, Beijing branch, and Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc, Japan.

Sample Flats for Commonwealth Games Unveiled by Tourism Minister

Tourism minister Kumari Selja inspects the interior of a DDA flat in Vasant Kunj

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) unveiled its sample "hotel" flat for the Commonwealth Games 2010 on Thursday. The flats, which are meant to buffer the shortage of accommodation for tourists that the city may face during the Games, will be handed over to the ministry of tourism in March 2010.

Unveiling the upgraded and furnished DDA flat, tourism minister Kumari Selja said the flat is part of the Alternative Accommodation Scheme for Commonwealth Games 2010 to bridge the shortage of rooms. The tourism ministry is readying more than 5,000 rooms in the DDA flats for the biggest sporting event in the country next year.

Furnishing these rooms at an estimated cost of about Rs 100 crores, there would be 2,709 flats with 5,009 rooms in Vasant Kunj ready before the Games. Flats in different categories are to be upgraded and furnished at par with three-star standard by the Indian Tourism Development Corporation. Selja added that the flats would be ready by ITDC for use much ahead of the Games.

Besides Vasant Kunj flats, there are 330 flats at Jasola which could be used for domestic budget travellers, supporting staff and volunteers of the Games. The tourism ministry is monitoring the requirement for accommodation for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, 2010 being held in Delhi.

The flats incidentally would be later sold off by the DDA as part of its housing scheme once the Games are over. On Thursday, Selja held a meeting with the representative of state governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, all land owning agencies and other stakeholders to take stock of the progress made in respect of various segments of accommodation for the major sporting event. A task force has also been constituted to review and monitor all the hotel projects that are coming up for the Commonwealth Games.

While reviewing the progress of work relating to the new hotel projects she advised the different agencies that each room needs to be accounted for and therefore all concerned agencies should closely review and monitor the Commonwealth Games projects.

As regards the proposal to use licensed guesthouses during the Games, Selja laid stress on the beautification and up-gradation of the surrounding areas by Delhi government as this would be an important factor for overall improvement of the guesthouses.

More Buses and 15 new Bus depots to come up in Delhi before 2010 CWG

Delhi Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely Thursday said that 15 new Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus depots would come up before 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG).

CCTV cameras would also be installed in all DTC bus depots to ensure security during the 2010 CWG," he said after a review meeting regarding DTC's preparation for the 2010 Games.

"With 15 new depots, the total number of DTC depots would reach 50 with multi level parking capacity of 6,000 buses. Construction works in seven new depots are going on and these depots would be functional by November 2009," Lovely added.

The minister said that DTC would be adding 2,500 low floor CNG buses to its existing fleet by March 2010 and the delivery of new buses will start next month with 150 buses joining the DTC fleet.

Of these 2,500, 1,000 are low floor air-conditioned buses while 1,500 will be normal low floor CNG buses. Besides this, 625 new low floor buses would be added in the DTC fleet.

DTC has started the process of purchasing 1,000 new semi-low floor buses, he said, adding they would have a state-of-art passenger information system and global positioning system for the convenience of commuters. As many as 574 low floor buses would be in the Commonwealth Games Village for the sports persons, Lovely added.

"All buses will be equipped with automatic vehicle ticketing system and with new logo of Commonwealth Games. Endeavor would be made to give a new look to the old buses of DTC," Lovely said.

The minister said an Internal Training Module for DTC drivers has already been formulated with the co-operation of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the central government's tourism ministry, so that these drivers may adopt better manners and behavior.

Cycle tracks to come up near CW Games venues

Undaunted by the gross under-utilization of the cycle tracks on the pilot BRT stretch between Ambedkar Nagar and Moolchand, the state government will now create cycle tracks within a 2 Km radius of all Commonwealth Games venues. Unlike in BRT however, this time the road space will not be reduced, public works department and MCD will instead take over parts of the pavement for the purpose.

The Rs 338 crore project which includes street-scaping and beautification will be carried out on roads like the Ring Road from ITO flyover to Ashram and IP Marg, East Velodrome Road, Velodrome Road, Kisan Ghat Road upto Ash Pond and Ring Road from Rajghat to ITO flyover, I P Marg beyond ITO flyover, roads around Games Village and Yamuna Sports Complex, Mehrauli-Badarpur Road, Mall Road from Delhi University to Chhatrasal Stadium, Bhairon Road and Siri Fort Road.

The total cost of works to be undertaken by the public works department is Rs 260 crore while MCD is expected to spend about Rs 78 crore on its roads. PWD minister Rajkumar Chauhan said: "The idea is to carve out cycle tracks from the footpath. At present it is largely for recreational purposes after all cycling does improve one's health but this is just a beginning. Once the tracks are created all across the city, cycles can become a viable mode of transport too.''

Among the other things in the street-scaping initiative will be improvements in the central verge, signage and affecting a uniformity of lanes.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Delhi to be Cleared of Beggars

20 additional police personnel for anti-begging operations is under consideration and 10 cops appointed to tackle 60,000 beggars(Is it a joke, How Could they?)

The hard days are days for beggars in the city, whom you can see outside every temple or gurudwara across the city, because government has taken the decision to kick them out, keeping in mind to show a clean face of the city during 2010 CWG.

Eager to present a ‘clean face’ of the national capital during the Commonwealth Games next year, the Delhi government is arming itself with 13 vans and 10 cops to clear the city of its estimated 60,000 beggars.

The city government told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it was geared to tackle the problem. In an affidavit before a bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari, the government said two of the vans had been modified to function as mobile courts to try the beggars caught during anti-begging operations.

But how does the government intend to tackle thousands of beggars, one-third of whom are children, with such little police force? And, what kind of living conditions awaits these people after they are ‘caught’?

The government thinks it has the right answers. On the allegations of petitioner Karnika Sawhney that its beggar homes lack basic facilities and space to accommodate the huge number, the state said: ‘‘Adequate arrangement for boarding, lodging, food, clothing and medical care, as per the norms, are in place in all the beggar homes and institutions.’’

On the inadequacy of the police force in tackling the numbers, the government said: ‘‘The proposal to create posts of 20 additional police personnel for anti-begging operations is under consideration. However, in the meantime, 10 police personnel have been deployed by the Delhi Police for assisting the mobile courts in anti-begging operations.’’

The bench accepted the Delhi government’s affidavit but asked petitioner’s counsel Indra Sawhney to verify the facilities claimed to have been provided by the state at beggar homes and report back to the court by August 10.

It also said that two judicial officers, T S Mutti and Mahendra Kumar Gupta have been appointed as special metropolitan magistrates for the mobile courts to try cases under provisions of the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959. More than four months ago, the state government had taken a stand before the Delhi HC that it was readying a new law to replace the 50-year-old Bombay Act.

An Extra 80000 Mws to be Available within 18 Months

Keeping in mind, the huge power demand during Commonwealth Games in 2010 and as usual power deficit, government has taken up some very large projects for power generation, which will boost the power availability in coming months.

India's power availability will improve in the next 18 months as part of the 80,000 megawatts of capacity under construction comes on stream, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Wednesday.

India, which currently has an installed generation capacity of 149,391 megawatts, faces a peak hour deficit of 12% due to rising demand from industrial and household consumers.

The government plans to add 78,700 megawatts during the five years to March 2012 to meet rising demand.

"I am confident that we will be able to add at least 65,000 megawatts," Mr. Shinde told CNBC TV18 television channel, but he added that there could be delays due to adverse weather conditions and shortages of power generation equipment.

Mr. Shinde said he has already set a target to add 100,000 megawatts of capacity during the next five-year plan period that begins April 1, 2012.

India's planning panel sets targets for infrastructure development in power, roads, ports and other areas for five years, which are then pursued with funding from the government.

Cutting Construction Costs Led to Delhi Metro Safety Lapse

Safety conventions were bypassed to cut construction costs in the second phase of building the Delhi metro, where a major accident took place on Sunday, said Saugata Roy, minister of state in India's Ministry of Urban Development.

In the first phase of building the Delhi metro, the design was done by metro operator Delhi Metro Rail Corp. and its consultants. Construction was carried out by separate contractors, the minister said on a television panel Monday evening. But "that was given up in phase two mainly to save money," said Mr. Roy and the design and construction were done by the same company.

"Now this accident has happened," Mr. Roy said, "we'll have to rethink whether the same people should be designers and contractors."

The Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for urban transport, among other things. The minister's comments come after a bridge under construction in the south of the city for the second phase of the Delhi metro collapsed, killing six. Then, a crane involved in cleaning up the site collapsed Monday, further heightening fears about this key Indian infrastructure project.

Sudhir Vohra, an architect and expert in urban law, said mixing the roles of design and construction to save money in the metro construction was a big mistake. "If that's not a safety standard, what is?" Mr. Vohra said in an interview.

In the second phase, Mumbai-based construction company Gammon India Ltd. was responsible for both design and construction. A spokesman for Gammon said Tuesday the company hadn't cut corners. "We are not compromising on any safety standards, because safety is of prime importance to us, and always we carry out the work as per the highest standards of quality and safety, in accordance with the laid out norms," the spokesman said. Delhi Metro is conducting an inquiry into Sunday's accident.

Come what may, I won't quit before the Games : Sreedharan

After the Delhi Metro mishap, its chief Mr. E. Sreedharan resigned from his office, but government did not accept his resignation. After a lot of pressure from government and other officials, he finally changed his mind and decided to head the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation until the Phase 2 work has been completed . Below are the excerpts from an interview with the Metro Man

Q: What was the reason, you took the decision to resign?

A: There were a number of reasons why I took that decision. I have been with this organization for over 11 years and we have had a very good track record. The first accident at Laxmi Nagar (last year on Vikas Marg) should not have really happened. I do not know who went into what went wrong. We took action to improve our surveillance and monitoring for safety.

Safety is a part of every contract agreement. In addition, we have our own consultants who go around work sites and carry out checks. My mandate to them is to stop work no matter what happens the minute they find something is amiss in terms of safety or quality. With this level of safety monitoring if still a second accident like Sunday's happens, I must take responsibility.

Q: God forbid, but if another accident happens, will you again quit? And won't you then be known as a quitter?

A: I will not leave this organization until Phase II (until the Commonwealth Games in 2010) is completed, whatever happens. It's a duty, a commitment to the nation. With the type of comfort and assurance I got from the Chief Minister, the L-G, minister Jaipal Reddy and even from the level of Mr Rahul Gandhi he rang me up saying, "Please don't quit, we are all behind you'' my effort will be to ensure that such a thing doesn't happen again.

Q. But why do you think Sunday's accident happened?

A. I am still waiting to see what really went wrong. Being an experienced engineer, my own hunch is that there was a design deficiency on that particular pier. There was a crack noticed on it in March, and I personally went to see it. I was not at all happy and put a special safety team to look into it, who concluded that it was just a surface crack. Even then I was not too happy. So we took a decision that this pier has to be tested with full load...

Q. Does that personally, you wanted the pier to be demolished?

A. Yes, I did. But that was not possible as the other girder had already been raised and was resting on the pier. This girder weighed 450 tonnes and the pier could not be demolished till this load was removed. My team advised me not to go for this and test it for load after finishing the construction. I succumbed to that suggestion, I would say. That is another reason why I felt I owed moral responsibility. I should have just put my foot down and ordered demolition, which I didn't do. I am a technical man myself and can't absolve myself of responsibility.

Our plan of action was to complete the other girder too and then test load it with full train load, keeping margin for support. But when construction started, only half of it had been completed, the pier couldn't withstand the load of this half and the launcher girder, weighing 300 tonnes.

Q. Had the 2010 Commonwealth Games deadline not been there, do you think you would have gone with your gut feel and demolished the pier?

A. No, that's not the reason. We are already 5-6 months ahead of schedule in this stretch so there was plenty of time. If I really wanted, I could have demolished it.

Q. Will the accident delay this line?

A. There is going to be a delay of three months, but only at this location. The overall line will not get affected as the rest of the work is going on.

Q. There was a controversy when this line was announced as many wanted it to be underground. After this accident, do you think that in crowded areas the Metro should go underground, even if the cost is more?

A. The dangers in an underground tunnel construction are much more. Moreover, the cost goes up by nearly three times and the construction time is also higher. I feel it is better to go for elevated wherever possible.

Q. What constraints do you feel while executing a big infrastructure project like this?

A. There is a big shortage of contractors. Some of the big contractors like L&T don't want to look at a work that's for less than Rs 300-400 crore. Most of our tenders are Rs 100-120 crore. All of them have got such a lot of work in the country and are so stretched. In the Badarpur line, which was the last line to be sanctioned by the government before the Commonwealth Games, when we called for tenders for the last 10 stations, there was no response. Then we had to re-tender and even then only one contractor came forward Gammon. We have got 2-3 contractors who are not coming up to our expectations. But no one is available to replace them.

Q. In this situation where good contractors are scarce, do you end up settling for the second best contractor to meet the deadlines?

A. We always shortlist contractors before actually starting the selection process. We call global tenders and call for tenders from about 7-8 parties. After that, the lowest bidder is selected.

Contractors also have a serious problem, which the country should understand. Engineers are available but technical workers like masons, bar benders, shuttering people, and electricians are very hard to find. The shortage is so acute that a lot of poaching is going on.

Q. That's one constraint. What are the others impeding India's effort to build world-class infrastructure?

A. There is a critical shortage of cement and steel. Power is not enough. Would you believe if I tell you that every contractor working with us has his own genset? They just can't depend on power from the city. I went to Shanghai recently and found that they are able to go construct tunnels much cheaper than us. And one of the main reasons was assured quality power. That alone brings down the energy cost by at least two-thirds. Energy costs account for about 15% of the cost of the project, so if power is available, cost can be reduced by 10% straightaway. Another problem is that of quality engineers, which we are addressing by training them in-house.

Q. In a situation where it is a sellers' market for contractors, the task of disciplining them must be tough...

A. But the right message has to be sent out to all contractors in the event of lapses. We blacklisted Afcons a good contractor for one year after the Laxmi Nagar indicent. We also enforce discipline through financial squeeze. We fine them, impose high penalties. Afcons also had to pay a heavy fine running into crores and not Rs 5 lakh as a paper wrote today. There have been cases where fines of Rs 1 lakh have been imposed when a worker was found without a helmet.

Q. How do Indian infrastructure companies compare with international companies?

A: Chinese companies are very poor. But compared to countries like Japan, Singapore, Germany, our contractors are no match. Their culture is different. Once they take a work, the price might be high but they take total responsibility for everything. Our contractors are still not able to match up. But we still have a soft corner of Indian contractors, who are improving (smiles).

Q. The Times of India called Sunday as Metro's darkest day. It also wondered whether DMRC was compromising quality for speed. Was it off the mark?

A. It's true that it has been a very major accident, the blackest in the history of Delhi Metro. But the impression that we are rushing up with work is not correct. We have made our organization so big that it can handle the project. For example, in Phase I, we had only three chief project managers and four directors. Now we have seven chief project managers and seven directors. I'll tell how this has strengthened our capacity.

When I was heading Konkan Railways, the then railway minister George Fernandes asked me how much time I needed to complete the project. I said seven years. My theory is normally a 100-km railway in difficult areas can be built in 6-7 years time. So, for Konkan Railways, which is 450 km long, I thought we will have multiple chief engineers and each of them would finish his portion of 100 km in 6-7 years time. Fernandes listened to me and then said, "But I will give you only five years'' (laughs).

Q. You very promised to be with Delhi Metro till Phase II is over. After that what?

A. After phase II, my intention is to retire.

Q. Does that mean Phase III of Delhi Metro will be without Mr Sreedharan?

A. Well, that is my plan. We still don't know what will happen. The government might ask me to stay on in an advisory role. But, I don't want to be a job where I am not in control. The mind and its faculties you can control and maintain, but not the body. The body ages.

Q. When you say retire, does that mean retire from life as a technocrat. Or retire from public life?

A. Retire from professional life and public life. I will not be available to preside over a conference or to give lectures. I want to devote my time to spirituality then. I plan to go back to my village near Palghat in Kerala. My children are all settled. I have no domestic worries. By the time I retire, I will be 80 and there will be no time for these sort of pursuits.

Q. So what happens to DMRC after you? Who takes over?

A. I am already grooming people to take over from me. But they will not flower till I am here. It's something like a banyan tree unless you cut it, the other trees can't grows. I must quit for others to grow.

Q. Do they call you a control freak in the organization?

A. To tell you very frankly, they don't think I am a control freak. The organization doesn't feel my weight. I don't impose myself but set an example for others. But, of course, the final decision is mine and if it is different from what they wanted, they accept it gracefully.

Q. How did your family react when you decided to quit last Sunday?

A. I decided to resign and sent the letter without consulting my wife or children. When the press conference was over and everyone knew it, I came back to my office when my wife rang up from Kerala and asked what has happened. I asked her if she was upset. She said no, her stand was very supportive. She said you have done it for your principles, it's good. All the children told me the same. In fact, they have been pressurizing me to retire and go away. Only my wife feels that you should work as long as you can. Even money is not a temptation. If I confide in you, I actually send my entire salary for charity. I live on my pension. So even if I get 10 times the salary, it is not going to benefit me at all.

Q. Are these designated charities?

A. They are in the name of my mother, who was an absolute illiterate. She could not even sign her name. Yet she brought up eight children, and all of us have reached high positions. Imagine her sacrifice. The charities are for educating needy children, for medical expenses, even marriages of very poor people. I get very little time to devote for this, it's basically only holidays.

Q. Is that what makes Sreedharan tick or is there something that you do to stay fighting fit?

A: I do yoga everyday, provided I am able to get out of the office on time. I leave by 5.30 on most days. The other day, a meeting was scheduled for 6 pm and I told then clearly that my brain doesn't work after 5 pm. Everyone, the chief minister down, knows that and they don't disturb me at home after 9 pm. I go for a walk too.

Q. You have worked for the public sector for a long time. Why is the private sector seen as more efficient?

A. I don't think so. The public sector too can have an equally vibrant delivery system. In fact, that is what the Prime Minister asks every time he meets me why can't we replicate DMRC in other areas?

Q. Is it possible?

A. The main thing is that politicians and bureaucrats should not control the organization that's one advantage I have here. They must select the right person to lead the organization. There may be mistakes...I will not say that I haven't committed mistakes. But let him be. Of course, the person's integrity levels should to be very high. I am a retired person. The government has no hold on me but they have still given me Rs 20,000 crore to spend on Phase II. That is only based on my integrity and track record.

Q. Why are these qualities so rare in the public sector?

A. Because, for most of the public sector, the chiefs are chosen for political consideration or some other consideration. And the moment he goes there, the agenda is to please the political masters instead of doing what is good for the organization. Instead, he needs to have the courage to walk away if the boss isn't happy. When I was with Konkan Railways, I was not at all liked by the board or railway ministers. But I never bothered and did what was in the interest of the corporation.

Q: have spoken up against the planned alignment of the Kashmir railway line. Now that they have reassessed and decided to go ahead with the alignment, what do you have to say?

A. The project will not get completed before the next 15 years. And even after that, it will be dangerous. I still feel they should have gone for the shortest alignment. The tunnel length is not getting increased but they are going over a longer distance. They could have saved almost 65 km in this 130 km line.

Q. Do you think the Metro can be the transport backbone for the city?

A. Metro has to be the backbone for any transport system, but buses are needed to supplement it. Even the four planned phases of Metro are not enough. We will definitely require more. Ideally, there should be a Metro station entry on every street so that no one has to walk for more than half a km to reach a station.

Q. In your long career, are there any regrets?

A. (Thinks hard) I don't think so. A professional life has many ups and downs. For example, the choice of gauge for Delhi Metro was a disappointment for me. It was a serious setback also at that time. But I got over it. Even with the Hyderabad Metro project, we withdrew the moment we realized things were not transparent...I lose my temper only on quality, not delays.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Development on the Cost of Innocent Human Lives

Is Safety Being Compromised In Rush To Meet 2010 Deadline?

Any one living in Delhi would be well acquainted with the pace of development and construction going on for 2010 commonwealth games. One can easily predict that the speed on which the work is going on is way fast than usual. Achieving such a pace always leads to some compromise with quality.

Not only Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) but all departments engaged in the commonwealth games projects are working under tremendous pressure to meet the project deadlines. Delhi metro phase 2 will be connecting 10 out of 11 commonwealth venues, so this increases pressure and responsibility on them even more. DMRC is working day and night to complete all projects before time.

I know that mega games event is a standoff to showcase our development and to project a good image of the country to the world. Everything is fine, but the question arises that are we ready for such development which costs innocent human lives.

The workers, who were killed, are from far away rural states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, and West Bengal with no security cover and no insurance. Some of them are sole bread winners of their family. DMRC will pay some amount to their families but the question is if any compensation can bring them back.

Isn’t it the corporation’s responsibility to keep a check on such mishaps?

What do you think? Post here or email me at the contact email and I will post all your responses here…

The original news as follows:

In a virtual repeat of the Vikas Marg incident nine months ago, six people, including an engineer from Gammon India, were killed when a pre-fabricated concrete segment of an under-construction Metro viaduct collapsed along with a portion of the girder launcher on Sunday morning.

Fifteen people were injured in the incident on the Central Secretariat-Badarpur line that occurred on the intersection of Lala Lajpat Rai Path and Kalka Devi Marg, at a stone’s throw from LSR College and Bluebells School.

It was sheer providence that the accident occurred at 4.40am. This road is one of the main spines of the city and leads to Nehru Place, a commercial and official hub of the city. It’s also the gateway to many south Delhi colonies and an alternative to BRT and the GK-II route. Any time of the day during the week, the collapse would have meant huge casualties.

The impact of the 200-tonne mass was such that the road caved in. Local residents and workers at the site said the pillar (P-67) which collapsed had earlier developed cracks and work had been stopped for two months to get it checked. DMRC chief E Sreedharan admitted this but said a committee had inspected the pillar and ruled out anything serious. Work had resumed about two weeks back.

As for the possible reasons behind the incident, he said it could have been caused due to a design fault or the fault of the contractor. The material, too, could have been inferior, he said.

Observers say in the rush to meet the June 2010 deadline for Commonwealth Games, staff strength may be getting diluted, leading to lax supervision. The incident happened within 24 hours of a minor accident at Vikas Marg when a jack fitted on a pillar, which had collapsed last year, burst.

The Incident A pillar on Central Secretariat-Badarpur Metro corridor collapses at 4.40am at Zamrudpur, near LSR. A girder being used to lift concrete pieces onto overhead bridge tilts and falls, bringing 200 tonnes of concrete & metal crashing down

The Toll 5 workers and 1 engineer killed. 15 injured. This is 9th major Metro accident in past 2 years. At least 6 lives have been lost in previous mishaps

Killer Pillar The pillar (P-67) had developed cracks and work was stopped for 2 months to get it examined. Work resumed 2 weeks back after iron supports were put around it

The Response Gas-cutters, cranes used to clear debris. One body yet to be extricated till late night. Some homes evacuated. Power switched off in area to prevent cranes short-circuiting wires. Traffic closed at Kailash Colony T-point, LSR-Bluebells School T-point and Amar Colony Police Station. Efforts on to plug major water pipeline which burst, flooding neighborhood.

DMRC panel – 2 in-house experts, 1 each from IIT-Delhi and DCE – to probe and report within 10 days

Who Are The Contractors?

Gammon India is the contractors for the stretch. A flyover constructed by them in Hyderabad collapsed recently, killing 2. Last Nov, a beam at a Gammon construction site on the same Metro stretch fell inside a nursing college, injuring a woman and a 3-year-old girl. Gammon insists it’s not at fault for Sunday’s accident, says "wait for inquiry report"

Games Village-Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth games village interior picAs the time of Commonwealth games is coming closer and closer, Government of Delhi is speeding up its work to develop sports venues and infrastructure work to keep itself prepared well in advance before this mega event. India has already hosted Asian Games two times earlier, but the country has never hosted the Commonwealth Games. The organizing committee along with Government of Delhi is striving hard to make the capital city of India into a well-organized and fully equipped city for the upcoming games.

It is certain that 2010 Commonwealth Games will attract large number of athletes and officials. To accommodate these guests during the Games, establishment of New Delhi Games village is in process. The site is located perfectly in the centre of the city near the major landmarks of the city including Humayun Tomb, Bahai Temple and Akshardham. The village is located on the banks of holy River Yamuna and the dense green cover in the surroundings will provide a soothing and pleasing environment for the athletes.

The village is constructed over an area of 63.5 hectares under the guidance of Delhi Development Authority (DDA). It is estimated that the place can easily accommodate 8500 athletes and their supporting staff. The construction work is likely to be completed by December 2009 as per the official projections.

The cost involved in the construction is solely the responsibility of Government of India. Games village will be full equipped with all modular facilities so that the Athletes and their supporting staff can get ultimate comfort and remember the games as well as the facilities for a long-long time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Surplus Power for Delhi Before CWG Assures Power Minister

In present when mercury is soaring up new heights, citizens are fed up of humidity and frequent power cuts. With rains not coming just add up to worsen the situation. Hydroelectricity production has gone down considerably due to non availability of water in the storage dams.

Now power minister has assured to fight with this power crisis, let’s hope we see some good things in coming days.

Even as the capital faces an acute electricity crisis, power minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Friday assured the Rajya Sabha that Delhi will have surplus energy before the Commonwealth Games in October 2010.

Replying to a debate on the shortage of electricity in the country, Shinde said: “By October (next year), 5,000 MW to 6,000 MW of power will be available for the Commonwealth Games. Delhi will not be able to consume (that much) and will be in a position to sell the surplus,” he said.

Admitting that the Capital is facing an acute power shortage, Shinde said that at present the peak demand in the city is 4,400 MW. Giving details of power procurement for Delhi, Shinde said NTPC Dadri, Jhajjar, Koderma, Chandrapura and Durgapur, among others, will supply energy to the city. “We have some difficulty today, but this will be overcome,” he said, adding that by 2010, all villages would be able to get electricity six to eight hours a day.

The minister agreed there is a power shortage in India, but blamed the states for not generating enough in power.

Unprecedented Marketing Opportunities Announced by CWG Organizing Committee

The XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi is being held in Delhi, India from 3rd to 14th October 2010. This exciting multi sport event of Olympic proportions, covering 17 sports, is represented by 8000 athletes and officials from 71 participating nations, and will have a domestic and world wide TV audience of up to 2 billion. The XIX commonwealth games talking place 28 years after Asian Games 1982 will be a land mark event for India, at an important time in her history.

This multidimensional marketing platform grants a tremendous competitive edge to an exclusive number of businesses to showcase their brands, products and services by becoming a commercial partner of the commonwealth games. Your association with this historic opportunity will confirm India’s emergence on the global economic, political and sporting stage and provide a unique occasion to win the hearts and minds of Indian consumers the world over.

The organizing committee commonwealth games 2010 Delhi proudly extends an opportunity to the Indian corporate and business community to partner with the games at various levels of sponsorship including: Lead Partners, Partners, Sponsors, Co-Sponsors and Suppliers.

Interest from various business categories such as automobile, sports equipments, banking, insurance, technology, telecommunications, food and beverage, transportation, airlines, office equipments, consumer electronics, overlays, temporary power etc. and other sectors can be pursued by outlining your inclination to:

D2010 Jt. Director General (Sponsorship)
at ts.darbari@cwgdelhi2010.org
or call on 011-26530850 by 29th July 2009.

Regularly check this blog for more information about commonwealth games

Mayor Hopeful to Meet 2010 Deadlines

Even as MCD claimed chief minister Sheila Dikshit had agreed to release funds needed for fast-tracking preparations for the Commonwealth Games 2010, Dikshit maintained that she had asked the civic agency to improve its performance and create more avenues for fund generation before additional funds were released by the government.

Said mayor Kanwar Sain: ‘‘To ensure all projects are completed on time, we have asked the CM to release Rs 500 crore.’’ The mayor discussed the annual outlay of MCD for the year 2009-10 at a meeting with Dikshit at Delhi Secretariat on Thursday.

“The chief minister has accepted our request. She also said that as a matter of procedure we should send a formal request to the Delhi government with details of various projects which require funding,” added Sain. Meanwhile, sources in the CM’s office said that MCD had asked for Rs 1,000 crore.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

At Last Badarpur flyover set to cross last land hurdle

badarpur flyover traffic snarls and congestion
Hope Arises for Early Completion

The 4.4-km Badarpur-Faridabad flyover project now faces the last hurdle of getting about 2.5 acres of land in Badarpur. There are five land dispute cases related to the project pending in Delhi High Court. After months of delay, Delhi government has finally moved to take possession of an alternate plot for Badarpur police station which has to be shifted to pave way for the project.

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials say the handing over of this plot to the private developer, Badarpur-Faridabad Toll-way Ltd (BFT), is crucial since the main interchange for Mehrauli will come up on this stretch. A few days after the Union road transport and highways minister Kamal Nath urged chief minister Sheila Dikshit to complete land acquisition on this patch, the land and building department issued a notification on Tuesday to take possession of an alternate plot within 15 days.

Officials said the lieutenant-governor resorted to an emergency clause to take possession of the plot. ‘‘As soon as the government takes possession of the land, we will move there into portable cabins. At a later stage, we will go for a proper building plan for the police station,’’ said B L Sandhu, additional commissioner of police (land and building).

Delhi government sources said that though this panchayat land had been allotted for the police station earlier, a person claiming to be the owner of the plot had got a stay from Delhi High Court. ‘‘Now Delhi government is going to court, asking for lifting of the stay. We hope to shift to the new site soon,’’ added Sandhu.

On their part, a senior NHAI official said, ‘‘we are concerned about the physical handover of entire land for execution of the project than the government taking possession on paper. We were supposed to hand over the entire land to the developer four months back.’’

Meanwhile, the five cases related to the land on this portion will be coming up for hearing in the next couple of days.

Although this 4.4-km signal-free corridor was added to the list of Games-related projects later, handing over of the land on the Delhi side had been repeatedly delayed. Earlier, the DDA and NHAI were bickering over how land for the project was to be handed over and also over the compensation rates. Sources said that only a few days back, Delhi government decided to finalize the compensation rate by July 15.

The elevated corridor will be a crucial link between Delhi and Faridabad. The stretch, which includes a 3-km long six-lane elevated highway, was originally scheduled to be completed by December 2010 but was expected to be expedited to catch the Games rush in October. Only 15% of the work has been completed so far.

The project has already been delayed several times. The Haryana government had cleared the project in 2006 but Delhi government and Delhi Urban Arts Commission cleared it only in January last year.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Commonwealth Games Venues may miss mock Games Deadline

Test Events were scheduled To Take off On Jan 13, Some Training Venues Yet To Be Given To Contractors

If Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials are to be believed, sites for some of the Commonwealth Games training venues, at least parts of them, have not even been handed over to contractors yet. With the organizing committee coming out with the list of event dates for the Games, both the training and competition sites will have to be ready by January 13, 2010, when the test events take off. Incidentally, the test events are being pitched as the mock Games, designed to ensure that facilities are battle-ready.

Officials at both Yamuna Sports Complex (YSC) as well as Siri Fort Complex admit that work on training venues are going at a slower pace than the competition venues as the former are being given piecemeal to contractors.

This is to allow parts of the venue to be used by members of the sports complexes. For instance, both the squash and badminton courts at Siri Fort Complex are being refurbished as training venues for the Games. But work on these courts has been taking place in pieces, so that members can still use the facilities. DDA officials claimed this has led to delays, but added it would not impact deadlines.

However, with the organizing committee coming out with the test event schedule, DDA has internally asked officials to move deadlines forward. This is especially true of the above two complexes, work on both of which was scheduled to be completed only by February-March 2010.

The schedule incidentally starts with a 4-nation hockey tournament at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium (MDC) in January, with the next event, the shooting championship, set for February, followed by the archery tournament in March. The shooting events will take place in the Dr Karni Singh and CRPF Shooting Range while YSC will host the archery events.

Interestingly, both the MDC stadium, which is being given a complete makeover by CPWD, and YSC, which is the responsibility of the DDA, was originally set for a 2009 end completion deadline. However, work at all venues is nowhere near completion.

While sources said the MDC makeover was only 65-70% complete, there was still plenty to finish at YSC, with work having started recently on the table tennis indoor stadium. The picture is no better at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, though sources claimed work should be over by year-end.

The rest of the schedule is equally daunting, especially for DDA, which has been consistently claiming that both Siri Fort and YSC would be ready by ‘‘early’’ 2010. Events are scheduled for April at Siri Fort. Sources at DDA said work is expected to start on a fast track with the test event schedule being released. Sources at YSC added,

‘‘The first half of construction was time-consuming, as it required elaborate engineering and electrical work. Now the facade and basic roof work is left, to be followed by peripheral fittings, which doesn’t take time.’’

They admitted though that work would be ready by early March, which would not give DDA much time to face the test event.