Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CM Wants Feedback from Citizens to Monitor City

Undaunted by the furore created by her decision to get ministers to monitor each other’s work related to the Commonwealth Games, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit is now planning to extend the privilege to not just MLAs but also citizens.

The government, she told on Wednesday, will announce the opening of a control room very soon where people can call with problems ranging from broken roads to non-functioning streetlights to the greenery not having come up well to a disused police post somewhere in the city — virtually anything. She will herself monitor some of the complaints to ensure a smooth run-up to the Games.

But more than being just a complaint helpline, she says it will be a control room where ground level feedback can be given by anybody. ‘‘We will announce the number in the next threefour days,’’ she says, making it very clear that in the next year or so to the Commonwealth Games, any feedback on the state of the city from just about anybody will be more than welcome.

"When I go somewhere and find potholes on the road, I immediately ring up the PWD minister. But I do not know what is happening in Shanti Path or say Vikas Marg unless I actually get there. When you are coming from UP the lights are there and suddenly when you enter Delhi there are no lights and that happens almost till ITO bridge. We need citizens and MLAs to call us up and tell us about all these things. It is about reporting observations and giving feedback,’’ Dikshit said.

There is already a similar helpline run by the lieutenant governor’s office but will this be any different? Dikshit says she is not aware of the functioning of the L-G’s Listening Post but is keen on knowing about the feedback. ‘‘A lot of it I will monitor myself,’’ she promised, adding this is her idea and discussions will need to happen to decide the contours of the control room.

Going on to categorically deny reports that the cross-department monitoring of Games projects by ministers is very much on, she said: ‘‘That order has not been withdrawn and all the confusion was misplaced because it is not as if we were handing one minister’s charge to another. It is very simple.

All of us go about the city all day and anything that we see amiss, be it a broken curb or streetlights burning during the day, we should report it,’’ says the CM.

She is very keen on similar response from MLAs for their constituencies and is evidently keen to be privy to as much of this information as possible. It may even build a sense of ownership and responsibility among citizens, she feels.

2010 CWG stadia work at Snail’s Pace

Weeks after the brouhaha over the Commonwealth Games Federation chief’s strictures and the organizing committee’s assurances about getting venues ready on time for the October 2010 Games, a report compiled by a private consultant, Event Knowledge Services (EKS), for the Organizing Committee (OC) in August this year has come down hard on the pace of work, claiming all projects are going to over-shoot their deadlines. More damningly, the report clearly points to the role of the OC, which, it says, may further delay handover of the venues.

The internal report, compiled as a status check of venue development, throws a bleak light on the work taking place, especially in seven of the major competition stadia, SP Mukherjee, Jawaharlal Nehru, Siri Fort, Indira Gandhi, National stadium, Karni Singh and RK Khanna.

All the venues are delayed by three months or more, according to the report, and are expected to miss their deadlines by a substantial margin. Interestingly, the report goes on to state that even if actual construction work gets completed, the lack of co-ordination between the various agencies involved and the OC may delay the handover further.

It then goes on to suggest that the OC venues department takes a ‘‘very hands-on’’ approach with the agencies involved to ensure that deadlines are met, especially with the Test Events lined up from January 2010.

The reason for this is the lack of clarity in the critical matter of assigning ‘‘field of play’’ design process. The FOP is basically the playing field concerned or pitch for the sports. According to the report, the issue has been brewing for some months now, and has assumed critical proportions. ‘‘Field of play issues are still a major issue for many venues. On numerous occasions the agencies requested information from the organizing committee concerning the Field of Play Sport Surfaces.

In addition to the FOP surfacing issues, there are FOP issues at JNA-Athletics, IGC-Track Cycling, NSH-Hockey and JNB-Lawn Bowls and SMA-Swimming. All these agencies require FOP consultant analysis as soon as possible to assure the agencies are delivering a competition venue that meets international standards...’’ says the report.

It further says that the SPM needs immediate intervention, as the FOP here is ‘‘very difficult’’. ‘‘Technical construction problem and the time remaining until the handover date is not sufficient to design, tender and construct an international level competition facility.’’

A look at the report’s progress data on the venues shows that the delay over the OC providing the required details is quite a bit. For instance, both the National Stadium and Jawaharlal Nehru are awaiting input from the OC for critical functional areas.

Sources at OC admitted that the pace had been tardy till now. ‘‘But now, things are expected to go into top gear, as handover deadlines approach,’’ added a senior official.

Delhi Commission for Women to setup help desk During 2010 CWG

Delhi Commission for Women is planning to set up help desks in the city to provide all assistance to the fairer sex relating to their rights and safety during next year's Commonwealth Games.

A DCW official said safety of women becomes a serious issue during any major event and it is in this context the Commission has felt the need to have in place a system to help women.

"We will set up gender help desks at the airport, hotels and various venues of the event to offer all sorts of help to women visitors," he said.

Since Women laborers will also be brought to the city by various contractors, DCW wants to ensure that all their rights are protected.

"The gender help desks will be set up in cooperation with Delhi Government and police," he said.

The DCW will hold a one-day consultative meeting with the likely stake holders including the police, hospitals, tourist agencies and Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee to seek their inputs for the proposal.

The Delhi Chief Minister is expected to participate in the meeting to be chaired by the DCW chairperson Barkha Singh.

The DCW is an autonomous institution set up by the Delhi Government whose mandate includes investigation and examination of all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws.

2010 Commonwealth Games will Be a historic success- Sheila Dixit

Sheila Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi has assured all arrangements for 2010 Commonweal Games in Delhi would be in place within schedule. She said, Delhi Commonwealth Games would be a historic success like 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi.’

Speaking in BBC Hindi’s radio programme Aap Ki Baat BBC Ke saath to be broadcast on Wednesday 30 September 2009, Sheila Dixit admitted making foolproof security for the games wil be challenge but her government is fully capable of ensuring safe games. Sheila Dixit said, ‘Delhi police forces are given special training to deal with the challenges, surveillance cameras and other high tech equipements would be in place. Security concerns would be taken into consideration even in construction of stadiums.’

Sheila Dixit said Delhi police ensured no untoward incident happened during hundreds of Ramlilas recently concluded in the city.

There have been concerns about shortfall in accommodations for visitors during the games. It has been estimated that around 40,000 rooms would be required of which only about 20,000 are in place. Shiela Dixit said, DDA (delhi Development Authority has readied additional 5000 flats which would be available for visitors. Besides I don’t think all the visitors would be staying in five star or three star hotels. Rooms will be available in smaller bread and breakfast type hotels. Delhi authorities have begun the process to ensure these hotels adhere to certain acceptable standards.’

Recently, P. Chidamaram, the Home Minister of India had urged Delhites to shed the tag of being ‘rude and indesciplined’. Chief Minister Sheila Dixit epressed confidence that, ‘Delhities would rise to the occasion’. She said traffic police and government would launch campaign to make driving in Delhi more disciplined and people more courteous. The campaign beginning in November would continue tilt run up to the Games.’

Sheila Dixit also said Delhi government is taking steps to meet demands for good transport system during the games. She said, ‘ About 4000 air conditioned and non air conditioned buses would be procured. Besides the government would also hire taxi cars from private companies during the games.

Sheila Dixit said her government would also lay emphasis on showcasing Indian culture to the visitors during the games. Various cultural events would be organized and most of the city’s historic monuments would be repaired and spruced up.

Gandhi Jayanti fair to showcase Games projects

A three-day fair here to mark Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary Friday will also include an exhibition on the projects for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held here, Delhi Mayor Kanwar Sain said on Tuesday.

Sain said the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) would organise the Gandhi Jayanti Mela at Pragati Maidan starting Oct 2.

"The highlights of the presentation will be the Commonwealth Games projects, door-to-door collection of garbage in the city, mechanical sweeping, bio-metric system of attendance (at some government offices), waterless urinals and so on," Sain said.

The annual event, which has attracted over 100,000 people in the past, will remain open from 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.

Hindustani classical vocalist Shubha Mudgal, Kathak dancer Uma Sharma as well as Punjabi popular singer Daler Mehndi will perform at the cultural programmes of the event.

The mayor said that about 55 Gandhian organisations and 75 government organisations including various MCD departments will put up their pavilions at the fair.

The health department has also organised free medical check-ups by the Escorts and Fortis hospital.

CWG telecast runs into trouble in India and abroad

Commonwealth Games infrastructure is not the only one running late. Broadcast of the 2010 Commonwealth Games has turned problematic too. While a decision is yet to be taken on who'll telecast the Games, within the country, the slowdown is playing a spoilsport in the global coverage of the event.

New Zealand is in the midst of a broadcasting mess as far as the 2010 Games are concerned. Television New Zealand (TVNZ), a government-owned network, has cited the current recessionary conditions for surrendering its broadcast rights to the 2010 Games in the region.

In India, Prasar Bharati is outsourcing the Games' telecast to a private player as it cannot beam the event on the hi-definition (HDTV) format, something that has been mandated by the Commonwealth Games Federation. Replying to an email, Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper on Tuesday confirmed the development. "TVNZ is considering the possibility of entering into a sub-license agreement with Sky TV," Hooper said from London.

TVNZ fears that it may lose around 2 million pounds (NZ$5 million) if it went ahead with the coverage. The broadcaster is apprehensive about losing huge advertising revenue if it telecasts theGames from October 3 to 14 next year, instead of popular TV shows during prime time.

According to TVNZ spokesperson Megan Richards, in previous years it was possible to absorb losses on international events but that is not manageable in the current economic climate. Just like India's public broadcaster is planning to outsource the telecast to a private company, New Zealand's state TV network could get into a commercial contract with Sky TV, from the Rupert Murdoch stable.

According to Hooper, TVNZ is the contracted rights holder for the 2010 Games and will remain so. But, he added that the Sky TV is in talks with TVNZ. "TVNZ holds all

2010 CWG OC forms 23 sub-committees

After getting a rap on its knuckles by the Commonwealth Games Federation, the 2010 CWG Organizing Committee on Friday formed 23 sub-committees to ensure greater co-ordination and speedy completion of the ongoing projects.

"We have to go full speed ahead and ensure that we deliver the best Commonwealth Games next year," Organizing Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi told chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of the sub-committees at a meeting.

"While we have great support from the Central and State Governments, we are dependent on you to ensure that we organize a memorable Games," Kalmadi said.

The CGF had recently warned that if the construction work at various venues are not speeded up, the Games could face "partial failure" and Kalmadi was aware of it.

"The Commonwealth Games Federation expects perfection in each aspect of the Games and we have to be ready for the challenges as we are committed to delivering the best Games," said Kalmadi, also Indian Olympic Association president.

"Each of your teams will have to be at its best to ensure that the 34 Functional Areas in the Organizing Committee perform at optimum levels."

The meeting was attended by OC vice-chairman Randhir Singh, Jagdish Tytler (Volunteers Committee), KP Singh Deo (Games Technical Conduct), Kiran Walia (Health Committee), AS Dulat (Security Committee), Amitabh Kant (Media & Publicity), Nafisa Ali (Green Games Committee).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Exclude Fiji from Delhi Commonwealth Games: CMAG asks CGF

The powerful Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has asked the Commonwealth Games Federation to exclude Fiji from next year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi after the caretaker government failed to present a time schedule for the restoration of democracy in the country.

"In relation to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, consistent with the precedent of the earlier decision of CMAG, the Group requested the Commonwealth Games Federation to take into serious consideration CMAG's decision in relation to the suspension of the Fiji Islands, in determining Fiji's participation in the Games." the CMAG said in a statement after its meeting in New York yesterday.

Fiji has been fully suspended from the Commonwealth on September 1 this year following its failure to meet the ultimatum to come out with a time schedule to hold credible elections in the country no later than October 2010.

Commonwealth Games 2010 next year made Delhi a mess in 2009

If you live in south Delhi, brace for frequent outages till October 12. Delhi Transco has said that the ongoing work on a Commonwealth Games project will lead to temporary shutdown of a line that supplies power to several south Delhi colonies.

According to officials, the 220KV Maharani Bagh-Lodhi Road line, which feeds areas like Lodhi Road, Defence Colony, Nizamuddin, Lajpat Nagar, South Extension, Niti Bagh, Uday Park, Gulmohar Park, Maharani Bagh, East of Kailash and adjoining areas, will be shut from Tuesday morning. ‘‘We have to increase the height of the line to facilitate work on elevated Barapullah Nallah project. This will lead to a line shutdown for about two weeks. Discoms have been asked to back feed from other sources,’’ said a Transco spokesperson.
While discoms have assured government of making adequate arrangements for this period, experts are concerned about situation deteriorating if power demand suddenly surges. ‘‘Right now the demand is below 3,500MW mark but if it suddenly rises, then there may be extended power cuts in these areas,’’ said a senior official.

Power department officials said that since the entire electricity network in the city was inter-linked, it would not be a problem for the discom to shift supply from one source to another. ‘‘They can get supply from other lines and this has been done in the past too,’’ said a source.

2 DDA sports projects hit DUAC hurdle

Even as reports of work on Commonwealth Games 2010 projects being delayed are making news, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has been pulled up for not submitting the right plans to the DUAC (Delhi urban arts commission) for approval. The plans that were submitted for the table-tennis and archery venues at the Yamuna Sports Complex were found to be wanting in many respects. In fact, the lack of consistency in the drawing plans that were submitted was given as one of the reasons for delay in giving approval to the DDA, said DUAC officials.

The commission found that there was no plan for external circulation (movement of people), including connectivity with the city network, for the TT venue. The commission also noted that the pedestrian movement plan of the whole complex, including the archery venue, needed to be submitted as well. In the archery venue, too, the project proponent had failed to adhere to the commission’s observations in its drawings submitted earlier.

DUAC had a few days ago refused permission to the DDA’s two indoor stadiums for squash and badminton events at Sri Fort complex in South Delhi citing lack of norms. Speaking to TOI, DUAC chief KT Ravindran admitted that approval was not given to the projects. ‘‘We have put all Commonwealth Games projects on high priority and the moment we get the right plans from DDA, approval will be given,’’ added Ravindran.

Claiming that the agency was only ensuring that rules were followed so that international-standard venues could be constructed for the Games, the DUAC chief said that though approval for projects had not been given at the Siri Fort complex, work was going on. ‘‘We do not want to delay the construction of the projects. But proper drawings and plans need to be submitted by the agencies concerned,’’ added the official.

DDA officials at the Siri Fort complex had been asked to provide a detailed landscaping plan for the venue and to plan adequate space for the entry and exit points to the stadium, which weren’t part of the plans submitted to the DUAC. Both the YSC and Siri Fort will also be used as training venues. In case of the Yamuna Sports Complex, the facilities will be redeveloped for aquatics, archery and hockey training, lawn bowling and rhythmic gymnastics.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Additional Cameras in Markets During Games

Government has planned a world-class electronic surveillance system for Delhi’s security cover during the Commonwealth Games next year.

One of the systems visualizes setting up at entry points to Delhi and other cities, a series of CCTVs to scan vehicle registration number plates. These can help facilitate the checking of suspected or wanted vehicles without harassment to other commuters.

Third, large X-ray machines will be installed to scan vehicles as they pass through to check for suspicious metallic cargo. Markets and areas of heavy movement will have additional cameras and checkpoints. In Delhi, for instance, the Commonwealth Games Village, Connaught Place, Nehru Place, Dilli Haat, Lajpat Nagar and other crowded marketplaces are most likely to be mounted with this security and surveillance cover.

While Delhi’s surveillance will be monitored at a command centre created at the Delhi Police headquarters in ITO, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is silently working to create a command centre to monitor all-India intelligence and surveillance.

Electronic surveillance is controversial. It is often accused of impinging on people’s privacy. However, given the risk perception during the Games, it’s felt that some compromises might be necessary to ensure safety. So, like it or not, intelligence and security agencies will be watching every single move that we make.


Rs 100cr security shield for Delhi

Heavy-Duty Electronic Surveillance to Help Protect 2010 Games

World-class electronic surveillance is expected to key to Delhi’s security cover during the Commonwealth Games next year. With three key electronic systems, the police and security agencies would be able to monitor ceaselessly all vehicles entering and exiting Delhi’s borders, examine them with state-of-the-art X-ray machines and carry out aerial visual imaging of the entire city.

The ministry of home affairs, in consultation with the Delhi Lieutenant- Governor’s office and Delhi Police, is learnt to have zeroed in on the state-owned Electronic Corporation of India for placing orders for the necessary electronic equipment. This is visualized as a pilot project, as of now in Delhi and other metros, but soon to be replicated across the country. Estimated to cost around Rs 100 crore per city, the project will be supported by special funding from the MHA.

There is understandable anxiety about security for the high-profile Commonwealth Games. Although the government is confident of ensuring foolproof security, it feels electronic surveillance, together with traditional security measures and a larger number of feet for ground surveillance, would help achieve security objectives.

The new plan envisages the launch of an airship capable of capturing and transmitting high-density visual images of the entire city. The airship is likely to cost anywhere from Rs 15-25 crore, a senior MHA official told TOI. Similar airships would be launched in other big — and vulnerable — cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai.

Total Cover

  • Pilot project in Delhi for Commonwealth Games. Will roll out in metros, then across country. Home ministry to pitch in with funds
  • CCTV network to be set up at entry points to Delhi and other cities to scan number plates of vehicles
  • Giant X-ray machines to scan vehicles for any suspicious metallic cargo
  • Additional cameras and checkpoints in crowded areas such as Commonwealth Games Village, Connaught Place, Nehru Place, Dilli Haat & Lajpat Nagar

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Boasting to Complete Projects on time, Archery venue just 31% complete

Not ready to accept the tall claims made by the Delhi government, Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee (CWGOC) member Vijay Kumar Malhotra today raised serious concerns about the timely completion of the venues and said the Archery venue was lagging way behind the schedule.

Malhotra, who is also the President of Archery Association of India, blamed the slow pace of work that has been going in the Capital for the shifting of Asian Grand Prix archery tournament to Kolkata.

He claimed that the Organizing Committee and the Delhi government may well be able to wrap-up most of the work by the end of this year but its quality will always remain under suspicion.

''By now everything should have been ready and our players should have been practicing at the venues but the pace at which the work has been going has denied our players the home advantage,'' said Malhotra.

''The Asian Grand Prix, which concluded this month, should have been held in the Capital and we had little options but to shift the venue to Kolkata,'' he rued.

He further pointed out that the Archery venue for the Commonwealth Games was way behind the schedule, with only 31 per cent of the work has been completed.

Malhotra was worried that his Association may have to compromise on various issues during the Commonwealth Championships in March next year, which will be the test event for the Games.

''I visited the venue yesterday and it's nowhere near completion with just 31 per cent of the venue ready.

''Archery does not need lot of infrastructure but if even that can not be provided to us then it's something that we must look at.'' Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was under the scrutiny from Malhotra who raised serious questions on her commitment for the project work of the Games.

"The may pick up the pace at this point of time but it will open opportunities of corruption in the system and the quality will also be under suspicion."

The Prime Minister has said it is a matter of national pride and he is absolutely right. Rather than making such false commitments, the project work for the venues and the city as whole should have begun and finished on time.

"We should have been ready by this time and the delay is just denying our players the home advantage," he claimed.

Centre calls urgent Games review

Despite Congress MP and chairman of the Commonwealth Games organizing committee Suresh Kalmadi's presentation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, government remains far from convinced that the planning and project implementation is rolling out on time.

Keen not to leave things to chance particularly after Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennel red flagged the lack of preparation PMO has called a review meeting next week to take a hard look at how the schedules were progressing. The review will essentially focus on infrastructure, but officials are equally concerned over software development that the OC is expected to oversee.

Sources said that the massive IT networks that needed to be put in place from information boards, cabling, central computer facilities and the sheer logistics of transport and servicing the needs thousands of officials and athletes is worrying officials. They are not at all sure that the claims that project development was on course can be taken at face value.

Even as regards the infrastructure development, it is felt that the budgets could escalate as the city rushed to put in place sports as well as road and flyover infrastructure. At present the development of physical infrastructure was not too far behind but the cost factor would go up steeply as more men and machines were put to use.

The urban development ministry's latest review reveals 67% of the Games village project where participating athletes will stay during the Games being executed by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) was completed as on August 31, against the target of 68%.

Other projects being implemented by DDA and Central Public Works Department (CPWD), under the ministry are behind the target by a few percentage points.

About 18% of the Games village flyover project under DDA was complete, against the target of 20% by the end of last month. DDA's Siri Fort Sports Complex project has achieved 62% completion, against targeted 66%, while the 29% of work for training venue in the complex is complete, but behind the target of 49%.

In fact, 59% work in Yamuna Sports Complex has been completed missing the target just by 7%. Here also the training venue is the worry as only 26% work is complete against the target of 46%.

The ministry officials are optimistic that DDA will be able to meet deadline for the training venue too. Both the complexes are scheduled to be completed by February next year.

According to CPWD, which is executing renovation and upgradation work for five stadia, 64% work has been completed in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the venue for opening and closing ceremony. While in case of Indira Gandhi Stadium, 56% target has been met and ministry hopes both the stadia will be ready by March 2010.

Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium which had achieved 89% completion as of now will be ready by November this year whereas Karni Singh Shooting Range with 64% completion will be ready by December this year.

SP Mukherjee Swimming Stadium, which has meet 54% target, is scheduled to be completed by January next year.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Foreign Delegates Visit Games Venues, Express Concern Over Slow Pace of Projects

Questions about Delhi’s preparedness for the Commonwealth Games refuse to stop. Even as the summit of security experts from 26 participating nations for the Commonwealth Games concluded on Thursday with the delegates expressing satisfaction on security plans, issues of preparedness apparently made the rounds during visits to some of the venues. The issue certainly took centre-stage at an interaction later in the day, with both Delhi governments’ special advisor to the Games, Ramesh Narayanaswamy as well as home secretary, G K Pillai, reiterating that projects would be ready on time.

For the organizing committee though, the two-day summit was good news as delegates expressed satisfaction with the plans that the Delhi Police had drawn up for the city’s security during the Games. Emphasizing that there was no specific threat to Commonwealth Games 2010, Pillai added, ‘‘The event will be fully safe and secure.’’

The setup of the International Security Liaison Group (ISLG), as the intermediary between the government and the security experts from the participating nation, also got Delhi brownie points. Added Pillai, ‘‘The ISLG will facilitate a common platform to share any threat perception, coordinate on security related issues and frame a guide map to enhance security during the Games. Security in all the competition and training venues, Games family hotels and the Games Village will be foolproof.’’

To add to the assurances, Delhi police commissioner Y S Dadwal added that police augmentation had already started with the opening of new police stations as well as recruitment of more personnel. Besides this, Dadwal said a massive traffic awareness drive will be conducted with the help of Games volunteers, media and social organizations as the Games draw near. Incidentally, the Games will have 30,000 volunteers who will be trained for the event. Delhi government too is planning to start campaigns on civic behavior in the coming months.

At the event, Pillai also announced that the Queen’s Baton would be handed over to the Indian President on October 29, as the Baton Relay starts. The baton will be fitted with GPS. Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra will be the first baton bearer, which will travel 1,70,000 km.

While delegates who visited some of the venues like Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the Games Village and the Major Dhyan Chand stadium were happy with the security set-up, sources said that on-going construction at the JN stadium came up for discussion.

Fennell’s Letter Causes Stir, Ministers to be Responsible for 2010 Work

Spurred into action by Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell’s letter to the Prime Minister expressing concern about Delhi’s preparedness for the October 2010 event, chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Wednesday divided the 97 Games projects being executed by various government departments and civic agencies for monitoring. The maximum number, 37 of these projects are being executed by the PWD.

The monitoring model, however, has already raised hackles with ministers raising concern about others ‘‘interfering’’ in their work. ‘‘The chief minister has in any case maintained that Delhi government projects are on time. And the way things stand; ministers are already in charge of projects that their departments are implementing.

Moreover, the real problem is with MCD projects and unless the transfer of powers happens, they will not let us supervise,’’ said a source.

All ministers other than health minister Kiran Walia will supervise six PWD projects, the minister concerned is Rajkumar Chauhan and six MCD projects each. Walia has been assigned seven PWD projects and none of MCD. The NDMC projects have been divided between Kiran walia and finance minister A K Walia while former transport minister Haroon Yusuf has been made in-charge of all transport projects.

Labour minister Mangatram Singhal is in charge of all power projects, a department which is under the chief minister. Delhi Jal Board will now be answerable to Rajkumar Chauhan and Arvinder Singh Lovely for Commonwealth projects. Lovely is also in-charge of the fire department projects.

The only minister who seems to have escaped the danger of ‘‘interference’’ from others is health minister Kiran Walia who continues to be in charge of all health projects.

Officials also say that the new model may end up ensuring that senior officials waste much more time in meetings and arranging visits for the ‘‘superintending minister’’ than is conducive for the project.

Though it was not on the agenda of Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Fennell’s letter had taken up most of the time of that meeting. Sources say when the CM had expressed concern about the pace of projects and the way monitoring was being done, a senior minister had said: ‘‘None of your ministers has any work’’, which is where the idea of assigning Games projects to individual ministers stemmed from.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Most MCD projects yet to Start

Tall claims made by Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) that all Commonwealth Games projects will be completed by March 2010 were exposed on Wednesday. A tailed report presented the standing committee showed that work was yet to be awarded for most of its Games projects.

Out of its 23 roads projects, including the ones that relate to street scaping work be awarded for most.

As far as construction 17 rail underbridges/overbridges the situation is similar. Work has started on only four railway underbridges (RUB) at Sarai Kale Khan, Sewa Nagar, Kishan Ganj and Vivek Vihar. The maximum work completed is at Sewa Nagar, 42% while only 5% work has been done till date at Kishan Ganj. The work is yet to be awarded for most of the other 13 RUBs.

Said MCD commissioner K S a: ‘‘We are confident of comng all our Commonwealth jects on time. Sometimes planning of a project takes time but executing it is faster. We require Rs 900 crore for completion of e projects and have received 390 crore till date. The reaining amount will be paid to us soon.’’ BJP councillor Vijender Gupta claimed that lack of adequate funds was causing delay in execution of projects.

MCD has to upgrade roads in front of various stadiums. For instance, Chyandu Lal Balmiki Marg near Thyagraj Stadium, Dilip Singh Marg near Sri Fort Complex and two stretches near Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium —Bhishma Pitamah Marg and Mehar Chand Market Road. Work on improvement of major roads like Jawaharlal Nehru Marg — from Ring Road to Thompson Marg (Rs 4.55 crore) — and Mehruali-Gurgaon Road (Rs 6 crore) are in progress.

A month back MCD had claimed that it had completed 40% of the work for covering Sunehri and Kushak nullahs but the figures given on Wednesday were entirely different. According to the latest report, the corporation has completed 28.1% of work for covering Sunehri nullah and 1.5% work for covering the nullah near DPS R K Puram.

Meanwhile, decongestion of New and Old Delhi railway stations has reached the tendering stage. The cost of this project is Rs 5 crore. MCD has to still acquire mechanical sweepers and carry out beautification work. Also, no multi-level parking sites have come up in the city so far.

Delhi Police Presents Security Plans to the Security Officers of Commonwealth Countries

Weeks after the furore over Commonwealth Games 2010 preparations in the city, the organizing committee on Wednesday was more than eager to showcase its security plans for the Games. On the first day of the conference of security liaison officers of Commonwealth countries as well as representatives of Commonwealth Games Associations, the government along with the OC laid out the elaborate plans it has drawn up. From tackling terror to taming traffic woes, the presentations by Delhi Police was well received, added sources.

Speaking at the event, minister of state for home Ajay Maken assured the visiting delegates that the government was ‘‘committed to making the Games a success’’. As a step towards that, the home ministry has constituted several inter-ministerial committees to ensure speedy coordination and communication, he added. Also present at the conference was Union home secretary G K Pillai and chairman of OC, Suresh Kalmadi.

However, it was the presentations by the Delhi Police that garnered the most attention, added sources. From plans to counter terror, like having over 2,000 CCTV cameras to keep a watchful eye on the happenings in the city and keep sending live images to a state-of-the-art police control room being set up at the police headquarters, to tackling traffic during the Games, the presentations addressed several issues that had been raised by participating countries, said sources. The delegates were also assured that as far as security was concerned, there would be no dearth of resources and manpower. However, officials claimed that it was made clear that no details of the security set-up would be put up on the websites, so that information would not be leaked in the case of hacking.

Part of the plans include the presence of elite NSG commandos at the Games as well as 300 ambulances and over 500 beds, which will be kept ready round-the-clock to deal with any terror situation or other emergency during the Games.

The meeting also discussed issues like crowd control, routes of the athletes from Games Village to venues, VIP visit arrangements, security at the entry and exit points and preparedness during emergency situations besides medical facilities at each venue. The Indian side informed the delegates that besides keeping Delhi safe in the run up to the Games, the entire country will also be kept secure from any act of terror or major law and order incident.

During the presentation, the Indian side informed security experts from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and others participating nations, that there was no specific terror threat to the Games in which 8,000 athletes of 72 countries will participate and over 1,00,000 spectators are likely to turn up. Directors general of police of different states have also been sensitized to ensure a safe and secure environment.

The delegates will be taken on a conducted tour to some of the Games venues on Thursday so that they can have first hand experience on the preparations.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Corporates to sponsor events and sports in 2010 CWG

Come October 2010, and the Commonwealth Games (CWG) may actually see sports other than cricket get attention from big corporates.

As part of a tie-up between the organizing committee (OC) of the CWG 2010 and FICCI, the federation of companies, the latter will be lining up companies to sponsor not only the events associated with the Games but even the sports. Said Amit Mitra, secretary general, FICCI, ‘‘The sponsorship from FICCI members will not only be limited to particular events but also to ensuring that the various sports get financial backing from the Indian industry.’’ Mitra was speaking at the signing of an MoU between the OC and FICCI. The agreement between the bodies looks at a strategic alliance where the business network of FICCI can be utilized to market and leverage the huge potential of the Commonwealth Games for the country.

Mitra however, admitted that matching FICCI members with events and sports was still to take off, with the federation only recently getting involved with the Games. ‘‘However, its a field that we are interested in exploring, as we would like to leverage the Games, which has a huge potential to take the country’s sporting capabilities to a bigger level,’’ added the FICCI official. It’s a statement that should gladden the heart of the athletes, who have been allocated a large sum for training for the upcoming Games but little, say officials, have reached the grass-root level.

The views certainly came in for enthusiasm from the OC, which is hoping the tie-up will help its marketing efforts for the Games in 2010. Said Suresh Kalmadi, the chairperson of the OC, ‘‘Some events have already been identified where FICCI will be involved. These include the volunteer programme as well as the Queens Baton Relay.’’ In fact, the business potential of the Relay has already got FICCI excited, with the body claiming it will be hosting the official dinner in London. Added HP Singhania, president, FICCI, ‘‘The list of business luminaries attending the event has already been drawn up by us. Its a fantastic networking opportunity.’’

Closer home, the body will be sponsoring the Games volunteer programme, providing the soft skill training to designated volunteers. It will also sponsor information kiosks during the Games, besides providing its facilities in London for events associated with the Games. Branding and marketing of the Games and related activities will also be a part of its role, according to OC officials.

The tie-up comes in the backdrop of a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which Kalmadi said, envisages a huge financial potential for India. While the Melbourne Games in 2006 saw a gross income generated of over 1.5 billion dollars, the study claims that the Delhi Games will see a far greater income, despite the current financial climate.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Delhites Need Change in behavior and etiquette: Home Minister

Delhites should seize the opportunity provided by the Commonwealth Games and mend their ways to present the capital as an international city, Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Tuesday.

"It's not enough to just revamp the city; it's time to change attitudes as well. We should seize the opportunity of the Commonwealth Games to change our behavioral pattern. We must behave as (residents of) an international city," he said in New Delhi after inaugurating a police station.

Observing that people in the city often do not obey traffic rules, he said the national capital needs to change its mindset.

"People should change their behavior. We have noticed over many years that the behavior of people has not changed. Vehicles are jumping red lights, even police vehicles are jumping red lights."

"Some are moving (in their vehicles) without having registration plates; some are crossing roads where they should not. People are not using overground or underground passes. We want to encourage people to change their mindset," he said.

The Home Minister also said that patrolling by helicopters during special occasions like the forthcoming Commonwealth Games may soon become a part of the security drill in the national capital.

The day is "not far off" when helicopters will patrol Delhi skies during special occasions, he told reporters.

Chidambaram also reminded policemen that there should be no reason why the capital's residents should feel unsafe.

His comments came after Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said at the function that her government was starting a campaign to change the way the society behaves so that it becomes more caring and also sharing.

Others lag Behind, Metro Races for Commonwealth Games 2010

It is a well known fact that every department, from DDA to MCD and others are lagging behind the schedule in the preparation of commonwealth games to be held next year, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation(DMRC) is speeding up their projects to complete much before schedule. Despite some serious accidents, the corporation is way before schedule in their projects related to commonwealth games. Read on...

As Delhi tries hard to allay concerns over the security of players and visitors during the upcoming Commonwealth Games-2010, organizations like the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation have begun training their staff to deal with exigencies.

While the Metro is busy sprucing up its image -- teaching its staff to converse in English and put on their best behavior -- it is also focusing on training for disaster management.

According to senior DMRC officials, the staff deputed at metro stations and on board the trains will be trained to deal with situations emerging out of a terror attack or even mishaps like fire.

“There is a compilation called hot protocol that is put together by the security department of DMRC which is like a handbook for emergencies. The staff, especially in the operations department, are given this guidebook to refer to in case of any emergency,” said a DMRC spokesperson.

The guidebook apart, DMRC is aggressively training its staff on the basics of first-aid, fire-fighting, red-alert and disaster management. “First-aid and fire-fighting assume much importance in DMRC owing to the critical nature of the organization functioning and infrastructure. This time we are also focusing on how to handle a situation arising out of a bomb blast or a chemical attack,” the spokesperson said.

Metro Citizens’ Forum, a group of volunteers who help DMRC instills good behavior and discipline among commuters, will also be at the forefront of the Commonwealth Games preparedness. “The number of volunteers has increased to over 300. Workshops on disaster management and fire safety have been organized by DMRC specifically for these volunteers so that they can play a major role in ensuring commuter safety during the Commonwealth Games,” the spokesperson said.

To ensure that there are no slip-ups while communicating with the visitors, DMRC is also putting its Customer Relations Assistants (CRAs) through lesson in the Queen’s language. “We are imparting English-speaking training to the staff, particularly the CRAs who will be constantly interacting with visitors. We expect a large turnout of foreign nationals during the Games, and to ensure that their travel on the metro is smooth we are making sure that the staff is well trained, groomed and equipped,” the spokesperson said.

The staff will also be equipped to handle queries from passengers about the metro, the stations and the immediate surroundings. “The staff will have to remain aware about the main locations, bus routes, information about hotels, restaurants and hospitals near their respective metro stations so that they can provide all the necessary information to the visitors,” the spokesperson said.

The metro will offer easy passage to the Commonwealth Games venues as it provides connectivity to 10 out of 11 venues of the Games. These include the Games Village, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi University, Thyagaraj Complex, Siri Fort Sports Complex, National Stadium, Indira Gandhi Sports Complex, Talkatora Indoor Stadium, Yamuna Sports Complex and R. K. Tennis Complex.

Three Commonwealth Games venues -- the Games Village, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Delhi University -- will have direct access to metro stations. The Games Village, where most athletes will reside, is adjacent to the upcoming Akshardham metro station on the Indraprastha-Noida line.

We are committed to ensure Grand Success of Commonwealth Games: Sheila Dikshit

The government is committed to ensuring grand success of the next year's Commonwealth Games which would enhance the image of the capital, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said here on Monday.

The Chief Minister, who visited Talkatora and Shivaji Stadiums along with senior officers to review the preparedness there, said all the stadiums and games venues would be upgraded well before the commencement of the sporting event.

Talkatora stadium which is the venue for boxing and swimming is being upgraded and refurbished by NDMC at a cost of Rs 150 crores.

"This is going to be a disabled-friendly and environment friendly venue. It would have state-of-the-art infrastructure and finish. Construction is going on in full swing and the work would be completed in December," Dikshit said. The Chief Minister was also apprised of the various features of the Shivaji Stadium which is being re-developed at a cost of Rs 100 crores for Hockey venue.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Government Planning to provide homes to Slumdwellers

The 2010 Commonwealth Games will be a boon for slumdwellers here as both the central and state governments are planning to provide them with better homes ahead of the event, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Kumari Selja said here on Saturday.

“The Commonwealth Games will act as a boon for poor people. Both the Delhi government and the ministry will do whatever we can in planning and providing funds to ensure that they have better houses,” Selja told reporters when asked whether slumdwellers would be hidden during the Games like China did during the Olympics.

“We are with slum dwellers,” she said.

She hoped the Delhi government would take advantage of schemes to provide dwellings for the urban poor in the wake of the Commonwealth Games slated for October next year. It is expected that over 100,000 visitors will be coming to the national capital during the Games.
The Delhi Development Authority, which takes care of the housing needs of people of the national capital, has pledged 30 percent of housing complexes for the urban poor in their 2021 master plan. Selja explained how some cities are planning ahead for the urban poor.

Listing the achievements of her ministry in the last 100 days, Selja said they wanted to plan in such a manner that there was no future growth of slums in India. “We want a slum free India,” she added.

Selja, who also holds the tourism ministry portfolio, said it has been seen that some states just remove the slums and construct houses for them in such far off locations that commuting becomes difficult.

“Merely removing jhuggis is no big deal. There should be in-situ development. Cities are expanding and it is natural for people to come to cities,” she added.

“Many states have now recognized that they need to cater to the needs of the urban poor and that they are an integral part of our economic growth,” she stressed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Some Projects May Get Delayed Further

Organizing a successful commonwealth games next year will be the most priority concern for not only Delhi Government but also for government of India because it relates to our pride and capability to host an event of international importance, but the red tapism and snail's pace of execution might ruin our image in coming days. As nearly all the projects are running behind schedule. Until some days before everyone from ministry to the organizing committee was singing in a same rhythm that the projects will be completed in time but now the murmurs of delays are started in the concerned authorities itself. Read on..

The idea was to dispel fears over the delay in preparation for the Commonwealth Games 2010. On Wednesday though, conflicting reports from various organizing committee members only underlined the lack of control within the OC.

While OC chairperson, Suresh Kalmadi, categorically denied any more delays in infrastructure deadlines, co-member and vice-chairperson of the OC, Randhir Singh, admitted that while ‘‘most’’ projects would be ready by the December 31, 2009 deadline, ‘‘some’’ may get delayed further. ‘‘But that is not a matter for worry as they will definitely be ready by March 2010, which gives us plenty of time before the Games in October,’’ insisted Singh.

It wasn’t just Singh talking about further delays. CEO of the OC secreteriat, Vijay K. Gautam, also admitted that the several projects were running on very tight schedules. ‘‘The pace of work has picked up at almost all the venues, and work shifts have increased so that deadlines can be met.’’ However, Gautam added that it was the aquatics venue, namely the SP Mukherjee stadium that was a special cause for concern, as it had been delayed considerably.

According to the OC, once the venues are handed over to it, the OC will take anywhere between 3-5 months more to get the venue ready for the Games. Singh claimed that in the face of test events starting off in February at some of the venues, the pace of work was being ramped up. ‘‘Those venues which are running behind schedule may cause some problem,’’ admitted Singh.

Incidentally, all the infrastructure projects have a December deadline, with only the Rugby space in Delhi University and the cycling velodrome at IG stadium having a March 2010 deadline.

Wednesday’s press meet, in fact, seemed to reiterate the lack of urgency in the Games run-up that has underlined the preparations till now. While Kalmadi was at pains to refute Fennell’s assertion, the showcasing of preparations by the OC didn’t have anything new to show.

Big Coaches for Metro with Lots of Facilities soon

New Coaches will have several facilities including CCTVs, Cellphone & Laptop Chargers, Effective ACs

In another fortnight, Delhi Metro commuters can expect relief from the ‘‘crushed dense load’’ conditions in packed trains. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), on Tuesday, got the nod from commissioner of railway safety for new trains manufactured for Phase II. Of these, 13 full train sets of four cars each have already been delivered to DMRC depots and are in the final stages of testing. These will first be put on Line 2 (Central Secretariat to Jehangirpuri) and then Line 3 (Dwarka sector 13 to Anand Vihar/Noida).

The 13 trains, which have already come, have been stabled at Khyber Pass and Yamuna Bank depots. ‘‘Of these, two trains will be added on Line 2 by October, another 3 trains to Line 3 by November. Eight trains are needed for the Noida line. All these will be four-car train sets and Delhi Metro will introduce the first six-car train set in May 2010,’’ said H S Anand, Director (rolling stock), DMRC.

With Phase II of operations scheduled to start by next year, and the Metro ridership reaching an expected 2 million, the corporation had ordered 424 coaches of broad gauge from M/s Bombardier Transportation for 83 trains, 37 with four-cars (coaches) and 46 with six-cars which can carry 1178 and 1792 commuters respectively in ‘‘dense load’’ conditions respectively. DMRC officials maintained that they have moved from a ‘‘dense load’’ to ‘‘crushed dense load’’ situation on the system.

The commissioner of railways certificate is issued after a type test of the new train load is tested under extreme conditions for all parameters of passenger and system safety. It is only after this certification that the trains can be put to passenger service.

The new trains brought for Phase II have several improved features like CCTV cameras with eight-hour backup for added security, charging points in all coaches for cell phones and laptop, improved air-conditioning to provide a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius even in packed conditions and even heaters for winter. The present trains only have ACs.

With the network spreading, the new trains will have external display boards indicating the final destination stations and digital route maps on each door inside train with lights to indicate the present station, route covered and final stop for all trains in different colored lights. The noise levels in trains will be reduced and the lighting will also automatically get adjusted as the trains enter and exit tunnels during the day to save power.

To prevent instances of people getting stuck in train doors, like the past incident when a man was dragged along a moving train, two rear view cameras have been put on every train for platform view using which the driver can see the sides of the train. Every train also has speakers on the outside to provide audio warnings to passengers about doors closing.

Even mechanically, the trains have smoother braking, better acceleration and a higher maximum operational speed of 85 kmph, compared to the present 80 kmph. An insulation mat has been provided on the roof to prevent sparking and tripping caused by strings of kites. The trains also have a better Train Control Management System.

Travel in style with broad gauge trains

  • Total coaches | 424 (37 four-car trains and 46 six-car trains)
  • Place of manufacture | 36 cars from Germany and 388 from Savli, Gujarat
  • Commissioning | Progressively from Oct 2009 to Jan 2011
  • Total cost of procurement | Rs 2,984 crore
  • Carrying capacity | Four-car train can carry 1178 people; six-car train can carry 1792 people No of train sets that have arrived at DMRC depots | 13
Two will be added on Line 2 by October. Three will be added on Line 3 by November. Eight needed for Noida line

Additional Features

  • External side display outside each coach to indicate destination station
  • Digital route maps on each door inside train with lights
  • Better ACs with heating for winters and humidity control
  • Sockets for charging cellphones and laptops
  • CCTV cameras for security
  • Two rear view cameras for platform view
  • Speakers outside trains for audio warnings
  • Reduced noise level in saloon
  • Automatic lighting in tunnels

Better Mechanism

  • Wheel disc brakes for jerk control Higher maximum operational speed (85kmph)
  • Improved acceleration
  • Insulation mat on roof to avoid tripping caused by kites
  • Improved floor design for reduced noise vibration Better train control management system

Now 7-star loos in Delhi

Plans To Develop Plush Public Toilets for Games Visitors

MCD has a very bad reputation of building and maintaining public conveniences throughout the city, now lets see how they are going to be proved worthy for this project.

The city may not have enough public toilets, but for Commonwealth Games, Municipal Corporation of Delhi is planning ‘7-star’ ones for visitors.

The civic agency is proposing to construct 300 such toilets which will be so clean that you will be tempted to sit comfortably on the sofas inside and enjoy an ice-cream, according to MCD officials. These blocks will also consist of coffee shops, flower shops and fast-food joints.

According to MCD, 76 brands have already approached them for this project and they are willing to pay a year’s rent in advance to take up space here. These toilets blocks will come up in market areas like South Extension, GK-I, Defence Colony, Lajpat Nagar, Karol Bagh etc and the civic agency will begin work on these toilet blocks within two months.

Said additional deputy commissioner remunerative projects cell Amiya Chandra: ‘‘Developers having a brand value of Rs 5,000 crore and above will construct these toilet blocks which will be better than the ones you have in 5-star hotels (hence 7-star). There will be coffee shops, fast-food joints etc within the same block. Housekeeping work will also be privatized. MCD will have little or no role to play in the functioning of these blocks. The developers will also maintain these toilet blocks for a period of 20 years.’’ These toilet blocks will be made on built-operate-transfer basis.

The concept behind having coffee shops and eating joints functioning from within the block is that for their business to do well, the developers will have to ensure that the toilets are well-maintained. According to MCD, food courts in most malls are also built near toilets areas for this reason.

Said MCD commissioner K S Mehra: ‘‘The idea is to give the responsibility of running these toilet blocks to a company with an established brand image. This way, he will ensure cleanliness of these toilet blocks to ensure that he makes money out of this venture while ensuring that his reputation is not affected. People will only come in to have coffee here if there is no foul odor in the surrounding area. We will also allow advertising on these blocks for revenue generation besides being paid a certain amount by the developer of these blocks. They will be ready in record time much before Commonwealth Games.’’

The cost of constructing one such block will be Rs 1 crore. The toilets will not have doors but transparent shutters. Various vending machines to take care of all your conveniences and an odo-meter to keep a check on foul smells will be installed. Said Chandra: ‘‘The design and choice of material will be done to ensure minimum consumption of electricity and water.

There are existing toilets blocks in some markets while new ones will be built in others in varied sizes, large, medium, and small depending on space availability. People will be charged Rs 2 for using the toilet while regular users have the option of buying a toilet card.’’

The MCD claims that their earlier plan of giving maintenance of these blocks to advertising agencies was not successful as the companies were only interested in advertising space outside the toilets. The civic agency had also come up with waterless toilets and had suggested making power from the urea released from these toilets. There are 1500-odd community toilet blocks in the city.

Delhi Short of 6,500 rooms for Games

With Deadline 6 Months Away, Only 41% Ready

On a day when Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi claimed India would stage ‘‘a great Games’’, a review conducted by the tourism ministry reveals a different reality at least as far as availability of hotel accommodation during the event is concerned.

Only 3,952 of the ‘confirmed’ 9,500 rooms, a mere 41% are currently ready with just about six months to go for the March 2010 deadline to expire. That’s not all. Of the 2,194 ‘likely’ rooms expected to come up in time for the October 2010 event, only 50% will be ready, according to the ministry’s review.

The ‘confirmed’ rooms were certain to come up in time for the event, while the ‘likely’ rooms were those expected to be ready. So, as of now, there’s a shortfall of some 6,500 rooms. How much of this would be made up by the time the event is held is anybody’s guess. The deadline for completion of these rooms had been fixed for March 2010 to give time for guests to make bookings etc.

The ministry had estimated a demand for 40,000 rooms. Of this, 10,150 were already available, with plans to construct at least 10,000 more, with the rest to be made up from guesthouses and other sources.

Rooms for Games: DDA has completed just 18 % of target

A combination of circumstances, including the economic slump as well as the multiple clearances needed for the construction, have slowed up construction of hotel rooms for the Commonwealth Games Progress made by land owning agencies like DDA in facilitating construction of new hotel rooms too has been distressing. DDA has completed just 18% of its target 403 out of 2,204 rooms. Haryana has done a tad better with 2,716 completed rooms as compared to 5,728 expected. Uttar Pradesh has the best track record so far, but this too is just about 53%, 833 of out 1,568 rooms of its share.

Others have virtually done nothing. ‘‘Some agencies like DMRC, DIAL and Railways that had promised to get hotels constructed were unable to do so because of several compulsions,’’ said tourism secretary Sujit Banerjee. The poor state of hotel infrastructure only underlines the concerns over how Delhi would gear up to the massive challenge of hosting the Games.

A war of words has broken out between the OC and the Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Fennell over the delay. This led to some hurried meetings between sports minister M S Gill, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and Kalmadi. While Kalmadi has claimed that both the sporting and other infrastructure would not miss deadlines, the current reviews do not provide for any comfort.

The hospitality sector is considered a high risk investment and there is a relatively long period before a star hotel manages to break even. With agencies like DMRC, DIAL and Railways unable to construct hotels in time for the Games, the government is now banking heavily on bed and breakfast establishments (3,000), guesthouses (11,083 rooms) and 5,500 DDA flats in Vasant Kunj and Jasola.

DIAL’s plan to construct hotels to generate revenue ran into trouble over two years ago. To cover the revenue gap of the hospitality district, people flying out of Delhi airport have to pay steep user charges so that airport modernization can be completed in time. DMRC had anticipated that it would build two hotels but it’s still awaiting clearances for its Dwarka project. The Railways’ plan to construct hotels also ran into rough weather due to the downturn.

2010 CWG Hit by Austerity Drive

As if taking a cue from the Indian government (recently UPA chairman Sonia Gandhi and congress MP Rahul Gandhi started to travel in economy class and trains and thus urging all congressmen to follow the same), chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organizing committee Suresh Kalmadi Wednesday announced his own austerity drive by canceling two important functions in connection with the 2010 Games.

Kalmadi, a Congress Member of Parliament, told reporters at his first full-fledged news conference at the new headquarters of the organizing committee that a musical show by Oscar-winning music director A.R. Rahman scheduled Oct 3 and a cultural programme at London's Trafalgar Square in connection with the Queen's Baton Relay have been cancelled.

'The Queen's Baton Relay will start from the Buckingham Palace in the presence of India's President Pratibha Patil. We have decided to cut down costs on all frills,' Kalmadi said.

Kalmadi also said apprehension raised by the Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell has been a wake-up call and the 2010 Games would be the best ever held.

'We will be happy to clear Fennell's doubts when he comes here in October. There were no adverse comments on the organizing committee,' he said.

'We have got the backing of the Government of India. We all are working as a team. There is great coordination between the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the Government of India and the opposition.'

CAG Report has old Information: Sheila Dikshit

Seeking to allay all fears regarding security during the Commonwealth Games next year, organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi said: “One of the major concerns was security. The home secretary has already appraised the heads of missions from Commonwealth countries about that. The security commander conference on September 23 and 24 will address preparedness in detail.’’

Interestingly, though the OC chairperson reiterated that preparations would be on time, there was no indication of how the projects are faring. Dikshit, on the o hand, dismissed the CAG report on Com wealth Games, saying the audit body had prepared the report last month, based on status of works that were six months old. ‘‘They have the right to criticize. We are looking at all alternatives.

The nation’s pride is involved with the event and we will do everything possible to make it a success,’’ she added. Dikshit though admitted that Fennell had also expressed his concern about the power situation in the city. ‘‘I told him that the city will have adequate power during the event,’’ Dikshit said. The CM claimed that the government was focusing on improving the transport infrastructure. She added, ‘‘We are working very hard. You can’t expect all the infrastructure prospects to be ready one year ahead.’’

On Sunday, CGF chief Fennell had shot off a letter to the OC, saying he had asked Kalmadi to arrange a meeting with the PM. ‘‘With only a year to run un- the Games, I feel I must personally brief the Prime Minister of India on the lack of preparations and to seek his input in developing an appropriate recovery plan,’’ wrote a furious Fennell.

‘‘I am looking forward to some urgent actions in order to bring about the successful celebration of the Games in 2010,’’ he added. Fennell’s fear was substantiated by a CGF coordination commission report which predicted partial failure of the Games.

CM Nervous on Games preparations

A day after the Commonwealth Games Federation chief, Mike Fennell, came down heavily on the city’s tardy preparations for the Games in 2010, organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi went on the defensive. Saying Fennell’s remarks were ‘‘not indicative’’ of OC’s preparedness in hosting the event, he reiterated that India ‘‘will deliver a highly successful Commonwealth Games.’’

Meanwhile, Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, in a curiously ambiguous statement, said, “We are satisfied, but we are also nervous.’’

However, it was apparent that everything was not hunky-dory. While Kalmadi barricaded himself behind meetings with stakeholders and government officials even a meeting with industry heads under the auspices of FICCI for Games-related sponsorship issues was cancelled the CM was at pains to clarify that while the CGF chief had ‘‘every right’’ to meet the PM, the projects under the government were progressing as per schedule.

Urban development minister S Jaipal Reddy too said all projects were on course. ‘‘Everything is under control. I can say this with authority,’’ Reddy said.

Kalmadi issued a statement that he would be ‘‘happy’’ to arrange a meeting with the PM for Fennell, but added that issues raised by the CGF co-ordination commission report had already been addressed.


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Stye Treatment

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hurry Job Openings for 2010 CWG

Many of my blog readers emailed me several times asking about the openings in the team for commonwealth games. For all of you there is very good news, finally the Organizing committee, 2010 commonwealth games has finalized the various openings and invited application form Indian and Foreign nationals. There are two types of openings, one is domestic hire which is only open for Indian Nationals and second one is international hires where everyone is free to apply.

There are variety of posts which will suit to everyone. Visit the following link for more information and apply for the post suitable to you.

Something to Boast Of for Delhi Government: Thyagraj Stadium

Thyagraj Stadium project will be completed on time. Finally something for which the government and officials can boast of. In addition Thyagaraj Stadium will generate its own power

It could well be the first Commonwealth Games project by the Delhi government to be unveiled on time: Thyagaraj Stadium is expected to open at the end of December. The stadium, which has been touted as the first green stadium in the country, will also be the first government building to use a gas-based turbine for its power needs.

Interestingly, the green stadium has been one of the few Games-related projects that has been meeting its deadline, a fact that could be an achievement for an otherwise beleaguered government that has been behind schedule on almost all other projects.

It is however, the stadium’s green features that are drawing attention. Apart from the usage of environment-friendly material like fly-ash bricks and specialized glasses, the stadium is going to install a gas-based turbine for its electricity needs. The turbine, which was bought from the US and will be assembled in Switzerland, costs Rs 19 crore and generates 2.5MW of power, said sources. ‘‘Usually, diesel generators are used in stadiums. However, with this turbine, we can not only generate our own electricity but also use the heat energy from the turbine to run our central AC,’’ added a senior official.

Apparently, the exhaust heat from the turbine, with the help of a vapour absorption machine (VAM), will combine with solar energy to power the entire air conditioning needs of the stadium. ‘‘This way, we shall cut down all running costs of the central AC,’’ added the source.

In fact, sources said that the turbine, which is expected to be installed permanently earlier next year in the stadium, could later even address the power needs of neighboring government buildings or simply be put in the grid. Added the official, ‘‘after the Games, the turbine can either be rented out to nearby government buildings as a mini-generating unit or be used to power residences.’’

Apart from the green turbine, it will be powered by PNG from IGL, the stadium is also planning to use solar energy on a large scale. ‘‘The roof of the stadium is quite large: 107X185 meters. So the solar energy generated is a lot, around 1MW, which is the largest in the country. This energy will be used within the building and also be put into the grid,’’ added the official.

The green aspects are quite varied in the stadium, say government officials. From specialized double-glazed glasses which have high light transmission but low heat transmission — to reduce AC load, to brick walls that have cavity to act as acoustic and thermal barriers, there are several firsts in the stadium.

Additionally, the stadium will, like other government buildings, have rainwater harvesting as well as an affluent treatment plant, so that water is treated and re-cycled for use within the stadium.

‘‘The idea was to leave the least carbon footprint. We are in fact, applying for a green building certification, called LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design). We have applied for the gold level, though we plan to reach the platinum (highest) level of certification,’’ said a source at the stadium.

Security Briefing of Head of Missions Commonwealth Countries

An elaborate three-tier security cover will be put in place for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in the Capital, with thousands of close circuit TVs, aerial surveillance and police personnel keeping a close vigil in the city during the games.

By far it will be the biggest ever mobilization of police and Central forces personnel who will provide security during the XIX Commonwealth Games, the first to be held in India and only the second in Asia. During the Commonwealth Games from October 3 to 14 next year, 11 competition venues in Delhi and one each in the neighboring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh will come alive with participants and spectators.

At a meeting of the International Security Liaison Group, set up to coordinate security related matters with participating Commonwealth countries, about 30 Heads of Missions or their representatives were briefed on Wednesday in detail on the security arrangements being made for the mega sporting event.

Union Home Secretary G. K. Pillai who presided over the meeting later told reporters that around 8000 sports persons from 71 countries will participate in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and about one lakh visitors were expected to descend on the city to witness the sporting events. Apart from them, nearly 2000 media persons and officials of 52 Commonwealth countries are also likely to participate in various events. Several heads of States and heads of governments besides other dignitaries are expected to attend the opening and closing ceremonies.

Mr. Pillai said that nearly two billion dollars would be spent on building and upgrading the city and sports infrastructure and conduct of games. While assuring the Heads of Missions of foolproof security during the games, he said the games do not face any specific threat from any of the terrorist organizations.

Asked if the possibility of Lahore type of scenario in which Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Pakistan had been taken into consideration, Mr. Pillai said that all possible security-related problems had been given in the presentation before the Heads of Missions who were told about the state of preparedness.

He said that the Head of Mission of Mauritius raised the issue of "bad driving habits" of citizens of Delhi, particularly at roundabouts and he was assured that traffic police and volunteers would instill a sense of discipline among the drivers in the Capital. He added that delegates were satisfied with the security arrangements being put in place for the games.

Asserting that India was capable of hosting Commonwealth Games and handling all security-related arrangements, Mr.Pillai cited the example of huge congregations like Kumbh Melas which have been held without a hitch at regular intervals of 12 years.

The liaison group will hold another conference of the security liaison officers of the participating countries and the Commonwealth Games Associations on September 23-24.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Security Plan Updated for 2010 Commonwealth Games

Bird's Eye View from Choppers, Close ups from CCTV's And Bond Security for Athletes

Assuring the Commonwealth countries of foolproof security to players and other visitors during the 2010 Games, India on Wednesday shared with the commonwealth representatives, the details of the security arrangements being made. These include a three-tier security around all competition venues, helicopter surveillance, over 2,000 Close Circuit Televisions (CCTV) to monitor each and every movement around important locations and special vehicles to ferry guests.

Officials of Intelligence Bureau and Delhi Police gave a detailed presentation to the heads of mission and other representatives of the Commonwealth countries during a special meeting called by the home ministry.

Clearly stating that “there is no specific threat” to the Games, home secretary GK Pillai said an exhaustive ground-to-air security would be in place to prevent “Lahore type(Pakistan)” attacks; the March 3rd incident when terrorists attacked Sri Lankan cricketers during their Pakistan tour.

Pillai said an estimated 1.2 lakh visitors were expected to be in the Capital for the Games and the Centre was “quite capable” of handling such events. He pointed out that the police in the country are used to making arrangements for the smooth conduct of big events like the Kumbh Mela that attracts 60 million people.

The International Security Liaison Group in the home ministry will hold a more exhaustive briefing on security arrangements to the participating countries in a two-day special conference on September 23-24.

“Such a briefing is needed keeping in view UK’s step when it pulled out of the recent World Badminton Championship in Hyderabad citing security reasons, though there was no threat to the event which was held amid very tight security,” said an official.

In the meantime, a detailed discussion to further fine-tune the arrangements will be held during the three-day Intelligence Bureau meet beginning September 14 in the Capital.

According to the details shared with some 30 heads of missions and senior representatives of the participating countries, the athletes will be flown-in in charter flights from their respective countries and their security will be looked after by a team of dedicated security personnel drawn from Delhi Police and the paramilitary forces.

A three-tier security ring will be thrown around each of the 13 competition venues. The athletes will be taken from the Games Village to the venues in dedicated lanes with helicopters providing air surveillance.

Over 2,000 close-circuit television cameras will keep a watchful eye on the happenings in the city. These CCTVs will keep sending live images to a state-of-the-art police control room, being set up at the Delhi Police headquarters.

Safety Measures for Athletes

Three-tier security ring across the 13 venues

Athletes will be taken from Games Village to venues in dedicated lanes. Traffic will be blocked for some time

Helicopters will provide air surveillance

Over 2,000 CCTVs will keep a close watch on the venues, Games Village and movement of athletes.

Live CCTV images will be sent to state-of-the-art PCR

Athletes will be flown in on chartered flights from their countries

574 vehicles will be used for ferrying athletes across the city

Vehicles will undergo mandatory anti-sabotage clearance every morning before athletes board them

11 of the 13 competition venues are in Delhi while one each is in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh

Around 9,000 athletes and officials of 52 Commonwealth countries are likely to visit Delhi

2010 CWG Headquarters Inaugurated

The headquarters of the Organizing Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (OC CWG Delhi 2010) were formally inaugurated by Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports MS Gill here on Monday.

OC CWG Delhi 2010 has recently shifted its headquarters from the Indian Olympic Bhavan in the Qutab Institutional Area to the New Delhi City Centre (NDCC)-II, opposite Jantar Mantar. The Minister visited all the major functional areas where he met the staff members and later also saw the presentations made by all Functional Area Heads of OC CWG Delhi 2010.

Gill expressed his satisfaction over the preparations and said organizing the XIX Commonwealth Games is one of the top most priorities of the government. The office is equipped with advanced communication technology and supports mobility to ensure smooth functioning.

The telecommunication infrastructure in place is completely scalable to deal with the requirements during the Games. The Technology Operations Centre, which will function from the building, will be the nerve centre for all Games results and venue infrastructure operations. The design concept of the interiors of this uniquely shaped building showcases India of the 21st century, an amalgamation of tradition and technological advancement.

Finland Support for Weather Tracking During 2010 CWG

A Finnish company has signed a $1.4-million deal with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) to provide 60 hi-tech automatic weather stations (AWS) and equipment to predict weather accurately during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Vaisala, which has been developing environmental and industrial instruments for the past 70 years and was roped in for the Beijing Olympics last year, will provide the weather stations and equipment, said Martti Husu, the firm’s vice president.

‘‘The weather stations will give accurate minute-to-minute weather related data during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The weather forecast will play a crucial role in deciding venue and time for the games,’’ Husu said. The equipment will measure six parameters; wind, air pressure, temperature, relative humidity, rain and precipitation. In addition, measurements can be taken of multi-level soil temperature, moisture, global and solar radiation, water level and temperature.

According to the Met department, the equipment will provide updated and accurate weather forecasts to all 14 venues and training camps during the Games.

‘‘Our equipment will be put up at 60 locations in Delhi and the NCR. It is a portable equipment weighing just about 15 kg with five basic sensors and a solar panel,’’ said Husu.

In India, the company has tied up with HBE, which provided technology solutions, for training Met officials in handling the equipment and for after-sale services. The ministry of earth sciences intends to spend $400 million to upgrade weather forecasting equipment across the country over the next five years.