Friday, October 30, 2009

Beggars in the city may get relief by the government

The administration of Delhi had big plans to shift beggars outside the city, about which I had posted earlier, but the Delhi High Court on Thursday came down heavily on the city government for forcing the beggars to leave the city for their native states. Terming it as a ‘‘crime against humanity’’, the court equated this move with the action of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s campaign against migrants.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar took strong exception to such proposed action, saying ‘‘poverty is not a crime’’ and beggars cannot be forced to leave the capital.

‘‘It’s strange that a criminal can reside in the city but if someone is asking for alms, then he is thrown away,’’ the court said disapproving the government’s plan of action to combat the problem of begging in the capital, in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games. The government has in a related matter before another Bench claimed that 90% of beggars in the city are migrants from neighboring states and it is co-coordinating with all these states to ensure that the beggars are sent back to their homes. It has also claimed that rehabilitation is being worked out for them.

The court has also sought the assistance of attorney general to deal with de-criminalization of begging as under Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, it is a criminal offence punishable up to three years of imprisonment if arrested for the first time and he/she can face to 10-year jail term for repetition of the offence. HC was hearing a PIL filed by social activist Harsh Mander, challenging the Constitutional validity of the Act.

On the last hearing, the social welfare department of the Delhi government has agreed that some of the provisions in the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, which considers begging a serious offence, leading to the immediate arrest of the person without any warrant, are obsolete and require amendments.

From Next Year new Double-decker buses for the city

The commonwealth games, to be held next year has become boon for the national capital, as various departments and pumping funds for infrastructural development, by next year, Delhi can expect to have its own hop-on-hop-off heritage tourist bus service modeled on the lines of the London counterpart. Delhi government has proposed to introduce specially designed double-decker buses, which will be run on tailor-made routes taking tourists not just to monuments but also museums, shopping venues, theatre and even typical Indian weddings for the foreign clientele.

The buses will be luxury coaches with large window panes to enable a clear view of the city from every seat.

To make them attractive, they will be painted in bright colors and the exteriors will be designed by professionals to reflect the character of the tours on offer. Every bus will have a guide on board to keep the visitors updated on the sites as they pass by.

In a joint collaboration between Delhi Tourism and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), the government is eager to introduce these buses before the Commonwealth Games kick off in October. But the service is not just aimed at the foreign tourists expected in Delhi during the Games. The government is also targeting the average Delhiite who can take a hop-onhop-off tour in place of going to a cinema or a restaurant, which officials said will also take away the burden of parking and planning. The routes are being chalked out by Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) and Shahjahanabad Development Corporation, and Intach will also provide trained guides and printed literature to be available on board.

The concept of hop-on-hop-off, which is very popular in European countries, has buses running on predefined routes at regular intervals. Tourists can choose a route and board any bus. They will have the option of getting off at a place of their interest on the way and have the choice of taking any of the later buses on the same route. The ticket has a day-long validity. ‘‘The idea came from a meeting on heritage sites and walks. Intach had suggested we should have these kind of buses specifically for tourists so that they can walk around sites and cover a larger number of heritage areas and other places of interest,’’ said chief secretary Rakesh Mehta.

The tourism department has started work on identifying themes for the tours and so far zeroed in on Mughal, Colonial, Independence and Mehrauli area. Said Reena Ray, MD, Delhi Tourism: ‘‘DTC will provide the buses and we will take care of the tourist and culture part. Each tour will be a full day package with its share of monuments, shopping, and places of interest like Dilli Haat and then culminate with a theatre performance in the evening. We have even got suggestions to introduce a typical Indian wedding in the schedule for foreigners but the main focus will be heritage. We are looking at a June-July launch.’’

DTC, meanwhile, is scouting for the perfect double-decker bus for the service. ‘‘All the double-decker buses we have seen run on diesel, but we need a CNG variant for Delhi. There are issues on where the cylinders will be accommodated in the bus design. Also, the model needs to suit our climatic conditions and dust in the city. The bus could have large windows for a good view,’’ said a senior DTC official.

Though the fare structure has not yet been finalized, Ray said that it would not be very expensive as they want to target the aam aadmi(common man) also.

Govt. Departments to be linked with high-speed network before 2010

In what is being seen as a major communication technology feat by the state government, work to put in place the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) Secured Communication Network is all set to take off as part of preparations for the Commonwealth Games. The same technology was used in Melbourne for the Games in 2006 and in Beijing Olympics last year.

The project will cost Rs 99 crore for a lease of seven years. The TETRA network will be ready for trial runs early next year and is expected to be fully functional by April.

‘‘The introduction of TETRA is a multi-layered jump in terms of secured communication technology in the capital. If the Asiad brought a shift from black & white television to colour television, the 2010 Games will see the advent of TETRA, which will be a big jump in terms of secured and efficient communication between government departments not only during the Games but even after that,’’ said Savitur Prasad, secretary, information technology, Delhi government.

Prasad said it will be a secured communication network among departments involved in preparations for Games. This high speed network seeks to achieve zero call drop rate and make communication possible at all times between various government departments.

The departments that will find a place in the network include Delhi Police, 2010 Games Organizing Committee, ministry of sports, sports authority of India, hospitals, fire department, PWD, DJB, MCD, NDMC and Delhi Transport Corporation among others.

Once the 46-odd base stations are in place, the network will enable departments to reach out to each other swiftly. The network will ensure that the information shared is secured and every piece of communication will be encrypted. To prevent any communication delays during the Games, the government seeks to ensure under TETRA that no calls are dropped.

2010 Games a boon for Delhi

Thanks to the Commonwealth Games, 2010, that Delhi will host in less than a year from now, the city is experiencing a cosmetic change which will catapult the cosmopolitan into the league of the biggest and the best cities of the world for it is being decked up to host one of the greatest events in the history of the sub-continent

One needs to fill up reams to define Delhi, the city that has closely held in its bosom thousands of years of history of a nation that has undergone massive changes unparalleled in the bygone times. The complexities, the contradictions, the beauty and the dynamism of this city where the past amalgamates with the present, bear testimony to the fact that many dynasties ruled from here and contributed to its diverse cultural elements that are often reflected in the character of this city and its residents. No wonder, exploring the various facets of the city can be a fascinating and rewarding experience.

The charm that attracted emperors, conquerors and the poor equally is still inherent despite Delhi now being a cosmopolitan society. With time the city has evolved itself providing a perfect blend of both ancient and modern cultures. Nevertheless, in current times, Delhi is experiencing a cosmetic change which will catapult the city into the league of the biggest and the best cities of the world for it is being decked up to host one the greatest events in the history of the sub-continent

The pace of face-lifting Delhi is experiencing in current times refreshes the memories of Asiad 82, when the capital city underwent a cosmetic change that generations hadn't experienced before. Twenty seven years down the line, the same frantic pace is being observed by the Delhiites as Delhi gears up to welcome a million foreign visitors for much bigger sport event - Commonwealth Games-2010. Hosting a sporting event at a scale such as the Commonwealth Games is a matter of international prestige for the country, and is bound to boost brand India. With less than a year remaining for the Queen's baton to arrive amidst cheer and euphoria at the opening ceremony of the XIX Commonwealth Games on October 3, 2010, the city is undergoing a transformation that is unprecedented. There is little doubt that the improved infrastructure and appearance of the host city, and global media exposure will serve to transform the image of the city.

One of the sectors that is witnessing huge improvements is transportation. Government as such can take no chances when it comes to handling transport system of the capital that has a reputation of perpetual chaos on the roads. Projects like flyovers, bypasses, broader roads, a larger metro system, an integrated rail bus transport system and a high capacity bus system are already in the various stages of completion. These will all serve cumulatively to ease traffic congestion and transit for Delhi's citizens. The modernization of the Indira Gandhi International Airport will treble capacity and go a long way towards improving connectivity within India and with the rest of the world. Apart from this, two new power plants to enhance electricity supply, improved water distribution and solid waste management systems will add considerably to the Delhi citizen's comfort levels post Games.

The change being initiated is multipronged. After all catering to a valued army of one million foreign guests is no easy task. From Delhi's airport which is being modernized, upgraded and expanded to handle the huge influx of passenger traffic to a dedicated Metro line from the airport to the city centre in Connaught Place; from a four-lane, 2.2 km underground stretch from Ring Road to Lodhi Road which will link the Games Village to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, reducing traveling time for athletes to a total of 1,100 new low-floor, high-capacity air-conditioned buses which will ply on Delhi roads by 2010 to ease commuting; from initiative to increase production to over 5,880 mega watts (MW) from the current 4,500 MW to Delhi Jal Board's enormous efforts to boost water supply from the current 670 million gallons per day (MGD) to 941 MGD, every resource in the hands of the government of Delhi has been employed to realize the big dream.

Clock is ticking and each passing day is a test which every Delhiites would want to pass with flying colors. Because besides earning accolades from the global observers of the mega event, one of the legacies of the event will be that it will leave behind a city much more beautiful and charming than it currently is.

Queen’s Baton Relay Raises Curtain On 2010 Delhi Games

Few days before the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) started its journey of 190,000 km over 340 days across 70 member nations, Abhinav Bindra had met Sania Mirza and few others over dinner on a chilly night, few yards away from the Buckingham Palace.

They discussed some commonplace things before Mirza asked Bindra: ‘‘You are going to be the first baton-bearer on October 29. What’s going through your mind?’’ Bindra, by his own admission, had turned a touch nostalgic while answering: ‘‘You know I came to London often as a kid with my parents and without fail we would go to Buckingham Palace like all others. I cried to my dad every time I went there since I hated the fact that they wouldn’t let me inside the gate,’’ recollected Bindra.

At a gala Indian ceremony on Thursday, in central London, the black and gold coloured gates of the Palace were thrown open cordially and with much fanfare for Bindra & Co for the launch of the CWG QBR. ‘‘I’ve been associated with Commonwealth Games for the last 15-years. I participated in CWG as a 13-year-old and had also watched the baton relay then. I was smitten by all the hoopla surrounding it and I wanted to be a part of it. Needless to say, it was a dream come true for me to be part of this showcase event and to be the first one to be carrying the baton,’’ Bindra told TOI from London, after the ceremony.

The curtain-raiser to the New Delhi Games was launched by Queen Elizabeth II when she handed over the baton to Indian President Pratibha Patil after writing a message to the athletes engraved on a miniature 18-carat gold leaf currently in a jewellery box inside the baton. The President handed it over to the sports minister MS Gill, who gave it to the CWG organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi. Kalmadi then handed it over to Bindra, the first of the 14 athletes who began the baton relay. ‘‘I’ve also run the Olympic baton relay in Delhi but the feeling was not the same. With all the Tibetan issue then, I had found it highly stressful to carry the baton, I couldn’t enjoy it. Over here it was fun,’’ said Bindra. Running with the baton outside the Palace were Bindra, former British runner Sebastian Coe, former Indian captain Kapil Dev, Sania Mirza, Milkha Singh, British runner Kelly Holmes, England cricketer Monty Panesar, boxer Vijender Kumar, squash player Misha Soni, wrestler Sushil Kumar, British wheelchair table tennis player Susan Gilroy, weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari, hockey star Dilip Tirkey and decathlete Gurbachan Singh Randhawa. They were cheered by hundreds of people who lined the gates of Buckingham Palace. The baton was carried to the Queen Victoria Memorial and The Mall in central London, before making its way to Trafalgar Square.

By the end of this epic journey, it will have travelled for 340 days and covered more than 190,000 km, passing through the hands of thousands of individuals across land, air, sea and on many different modes of transport — from bicycle and boat to hot air balloon, steam train and even an elephant. It will enter India from the Wagah border on June 25 and end at the opening ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Oct 3, where athletes will be read out the Queen’s message.

Shortly before the start of the baton relay, while the Indian musicians and dancers performed at the forecourt of the Palace, it suddenly occurred to Bindra that he had forgotten something. ‘‘All my life I’ve been waiting for this day to get inside the gate of the Palace and today I was ill-prepared,” confessed Bindra. Bindra had forgotten to pack in a black tie in his suitcase for the blacktie dinner with the Queen later in the evening.

Relay baton depicts India’s diverse culture & tradition

The Queen’s Baton Relay which began its journey in London on Thursday portrays an intricate fusion of ancient and modern India with the soil from all parts of India layered on to a fabric that covers the helix-shaped aluminium case.

A technological marvel that took shape at the Foley Design studio in the heart of Bangalore over the last seven months, the 664-mm high baton was created with the help of Titan Industries in Hosur, Tamil Nadu and a technology consortium led by Bharat Electronics Limited.

“We won the bid last December piping seven other firms and commenced work in March this year. A group of eight from the Foley Design studio created and developed the baton,” Michael Foley, MD of Foley Designs, told from London.

“The multi-colored soil depicts the diverse culture and traditions of India. The top of the baton is a jewellery box which contains the Queen’s message inscribed on 18 carat gold palm leaf. It is a blend of handicraft and machine work,” said Foley, who passed out of the National Institute of Design in 1994.

The baton is capable of lighting up in the flag colors of all the 70 countries it passes through. “The Light Emitting Diodes (LED) embedded in the baton will transform into the colors of country’s flag in which the baton arrives,” Foley said. The baton, weighing 1900 grams, is powered by a nine-volt rechargeable battery that can run up to eight hours.

Athletes carrying the baton can also record their messages and images and sounds to the blue tooth enabled baton. It will be relayed to base station in the accompanying vehicle and to the CWG website. The location of the baton can also be tracked throughout its journey through the Global Positioning System (GPS) embedded in it.

Fans can send in messages and already quite a few proud Indians have texted their message to the baton.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Queen's Baton Relay Today

Proposal of more funds for Games 2010

It is well known that 2010 commonwealth games projects has been the most costly affair in the Indian infrastructural development history, as government, both Delhi and Indian has allotted a huge amount of funds for the projects. Today cabinet may clear some more funds for the games.

Commonwealth Games 2010 is going to be a costly affair with the Cabinet on Thursday expected to clear a proposal to revise budget of the Organizing Committee to around 1,600 crore.

With increasing demands from Games committee headed by Suresh Kalmadi, the sports ministry is now seeking a special grant of Rs 1,640 crore just to meet the day-to-day management of the fortnight-long Games to be held in October next year.

The estimated amount will be spent on the visiting athletes and officials, including their transportation, daily needs and medical expenses. According to sources, the country will end up spending much more and the amount can go up to Rs 2,000 crore.

The original budget was Rs 200 crore before it was raised to around Rs 800 crore for just managing the Games.

Many sports ministry officials are amazed at the huge size of the Games committee with around 500 people already hired at handsome salaries which are inflating the budget.

An official pointed out that the reasons for cost overrun could be as strange as bearing the transportation expenses of foreign athletes from their countries.

Hanging Wires to go Underground, Budget hotels to get facelift ahead of 2010 Commonwealth Games

The tangled mesh of cable TV, internet and telephone wires on every electric pole will soon disappear from the skyline of the capital’s central business district and the cheek-by-jowl shops and motels will get a facelift ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The power ministry, empowered to light up the city for the Games, has initiated steps to clear the mess overhead, and the tourism ministry is cleaning up the squalor around the budget hotels in Paharganj and Karol Bagh earmarked to meet the demand for accommodation.

The tourism ministry’s decision to identify 11,000 rooms in 500-odd hotels and lodges for upgradation is a cause for celebration for the residents of the two congested areas. The infrastructure revamp is expected to be completed by June, four months before the Oct 3-14 Games.

“Many of these hotels and small restaurants badly need sprucing up and cleaning up of the squalor around. Some don’t fulfill required standards. So, we have asked the hotel owners to upgrade their rooms and install elevators,” a senior tourism department official told.

The motels and guest houses, some of which are badly maintained, will be graded by the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) once the renovations are over.

“They can claim recognition and we can help them to expand their market. We will put them in category A, B and C on the basis of services and facilities provided,” DTTDC general manager Kulanand Joshi told.

The official said that category B and C hotels would not be recommended for international tourists. These hotels are undergoing major renovation work and have been asked to ensure basic standards of safety and fire regulations.

Hoteliers are cock-a-hoop and see it as a golden opportunity to improve their business prospects.

“Paharganj is known the world over for its budget hotels. Our rooms are centrally air-conditioned and now the government is lending a helping hand to prepare us for the Games,” said Naresh Kumar, director of the three-star Shiva Intercontinental hotel in Paharganj.

He said the government is not only improving civic infrastructure in the area but also carrying out a daily work audit, besides training the hotel staff.

“Delhi Finance Minister A.K. Walia visited the place a couple of days ago and officials of the Delhi government licensing department are reviewing the work progress on a regular basis. There was a management workshop for our staff at the Pusa Institute for Hotel Management a few weeks ago,” said Kumar, who owns two more budget hotels in the area.

“There was a need to identify rooms which are close to the Games venues as well as connected to the tourist destinations and prominent markets in central Delhi which tourists would like to visit,” Joshi said.

The proximity of these hotels to the New Delhi railway station and to the Delhi Metro, which would connect central Delhi to the Indira Gandhi International Airport, was also a key reason for pushing ahead with the project. The room tariff, depending on services, can be between Rs.100 and Rs.1, 500 a night.

Tourism secretary Shudip Bannerjee inspected some hotels in the areas and the government has now released a whopping Rs.6 billion to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for development works in the area which will see a multilevel parking lot besides the improvement in basic amenities.

“All the hanging cables would go underground, while work on street-scaping and lighting has already begun and new signages would come up soon.” the official said.

Residents here are enthusiastic about the development.

“I often go to these hotels to eat. It’s always bustling and you get amazing food. But the dirty, crowded streets with hanging wires overhead are a put-off. It is good that the area is being done up as it will be a boon for the people in the neighborhood,” said Sachin Malhotra, a Karol Bagh resident.

Union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja has instructed officials of her ministry to expedite the work as 30,000 additional hotel rooms were required in and around Delhi for the Games. She has said that “all hotel projects coming up for the Games should be ready by June 2010″.

Nehru Stadium missing Dec 31 deadline, to be completed by March

Reconstruction of the 27-year-old Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will miss the Dec 31 deadline and the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Commonwealth Games would need three more months to get ready because a newly proposed tunnel has to be built.
The 150-metre-long tunnel, which will open up at the centre, has been designed to connect the two ends of the stadium. The tunnel will be used by the performers to enter the ground during the ceremonies.

Sports Minister M.S. Gill said a cultural committee, headed by Tamil film maker Bharat Bala, wanted the tunnel. The other members of the committee are film maker Shyam Benegal, lyricists Javed Akhtar and Prasoon Joshi.

'We have to showcase the rich cultural diversity of India. The prime minister and the cabinet want the opening and closing ceremonies to highlight Indian culture and for that we formed this committee. The committee suggested the construction of the tunnel,' Gill said Monday while reviewing the progress of work at the stadium.

The stadium, with a seating capacity of about 75,000, was built in 1982 when India hosted the Asian Games.

Gill said the overseas experts, working round the clock at the stadium, promised to make it a world class facility.

'The stadium is a complex work of engineering, involving high technology. Experts from Germany, Mexico, Switzerland and India are working to give it a shape. There is no doubt that it is going be a world class stadium and we shall be proud of it,' Gill said.

'We are trying to set an architectural landmark. I have had discussions with the engineers and officials here and I am satisfied with the way things are going.'

A senior engineer, associated with the stadium since the beginning of reconstruction, told IANS that the stadium can be completed only by March.

'First the deadline was December 31. Just a week ago we were told about the tunnel. It's a new addition to the project. It will now take around 165 days more and we could hopefully be ready by March end. The track can be laid only after the completion of the tunnel,' he said.

Gill said he has spoken to Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell and will meet him Oct 28 during the Queen's Baton Relay in London.

'The prime minister has himself given a statement Sunday and it should assure everyone that we will be ready in time for the Games. I will be meeting Fennell in London and sort out all outstanding issues,' Gill said.

Gill also visited the swimming pool at Talkotara Sports Complex.

More X ray baggage system for Commonwealth Games

Delhi Police has decided to increase by 99 the number of X-Ray baggage inspection systems (XBIS) to be hired for Commonwealth Games venues for better security preparedness. With this, a senior police official said, the total number of X-Ray baggage inspection equipment to be installed at 11 venues and 15 practice venues for the next year's mega sporting event will be 239.

“Earlier, we were to hire 140 such equipment but keeping in mind the security requirements we decided to hire 99 more X-Ray baggage inspection systems. The number may go up if there is a need,” the official said.

The X-Ray baggage inspection systems will be installed at the innermost fourth layer of security ring at venues which the security establishment calls as the 'exclusion zone', he said. The Games will be held here from October 3 to 14 next year.

“The XBIS which we are hiring will be new. There will be no compromise on the quality of performance,” the official said. The equipment will be installed at the venues on September 1 next year and will be there till October 28.

“The machine will have features of multi-energy imaging facility where materials will be displayed in different colors to distinguish between organic and inorganic materials. This will enable us to distinguish high density organic materials like explosives,” he said.

2010 Commonwealth Games – Golden Opportunity for Travel Agencies

Despite controversies surrounding the 2010 Commonwealth Games raising doubts of the games ever coming to pass, reports have it that the Union Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Sports has been holding meetings with various states to chalk out plans to promote tourism during the games, an official source revealed.

Even the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) has held discussions with the ministry of sports and ministry of tourism. The KSTDC officials, however, declined to comment on the developments. “It is too early to comment,” it was said; while they accepted that discussions are underway.

According to an official estimate, around 20 lakh foreign tourists and 3.5 million domestic tourists are likely to arrive in Delhi; this large influx is bound to give the tourism sector forward leap.Travel agencies are also in full preparation. Sources from Thomas Cook and Yatra.com said that the travel agencies are preparing specialized tour packages for the Commonwealth Games, besides special interest tours such as culinary tours, festival tours and heritage tours.

Since the sporting event is scheduled in October, the agencies consider it an excellent opportunity to build up tours around festivals.

We will have spectacular Commonwealth Games: Prime Minister

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted some delays in the execution of Commonwealth Games projects but pledged to hold ‘a spectacular show’ next year.

Speaking to reporters at the end of a two-day visit to Thailand, he insisted that whatever the problems in the preparations of the Games, they would be resolved.

‘Whatever mechanisms have now been put in place will work effectively,’ he said, answering a question on the Commonwealth Games partly in Hindi and partly in English.

‘I am fully confident that the Games will take place. Those who come to see the Games will see a spectacular show.’

The prime minister avoided giving an answer when he was asked if there was a proposal to make Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in charge of the Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth Games 2010 will be held in New Delhi Oct 3-14.

Global Television bags bid For 2010 CWG International Broadcast Centre

Global Television has won a world wide tender to design, install and operate the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

This will be the first time in Commonwealth Games history that the event has been broadcast in High Definition digital, also marking a critical milestone for Indian television.

Australia’s leading and most experienced services provider to the television industry, Global was selected from a tough international field after an intensive three-month evaluation period.

Global delivered the IBC technical build for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and has brought the same team together for Delhi 2010. Global will also work with an on-the-ground Indian partner, Shaf Broadcast.

The IBC is the hub for all Commonwealth Games broadcasting activity, handling incoming television pictures and sound from the host broadcaster, distributing that footage to international rights holders and managing rights holders’ outgoing transmissions.

Global’s track record in providing complex technical broadcast requirements for major international events is well established. In addition to the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Global Television has delivered IBC requirements for the 2007 FINA World Championships (swimming), World Youth Day in 2008 and the 2000 Sydney Paralympics.

Global Television CEO Kerri Thompson said: "The 2010 Commonwealth Games IBC tender is among the most prized on the international broadcasting event calendar.

"As the nucleus of broadcast activity for the competition, the IBC transmits literally thousands of hours of sporting drama, achievement and news to viewers around the world.

"Away from the competition venues, perceptions of the Games’ success will hinge on the quality and timeliness of material beamed home.

"In securing this contract, Global Television is especially proud to showcase the Australian broadcast industry’s capabilities and demonstrate the High Definition digital expertise for which Australia is renowned."

The Delhi Commonwealth Games IBC will house studio and reporting facilities for broadcasters and journalists from around the world. Occupying 8,000 square meters, up to 1,500 broadcast professionals will be based at the IBC.

Global Television begins work on the contract immediately, with a technical team en route to Delhi for briefings this week and to attend the first World Broadcasters Meeting for rights holders.

The XIX Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010 will be held from 3rd–14th October next year. Competition will feature 17 sports, with around 8,500 athletes and officials from 71 Commonwealth Games Federation member countries expected to attend.

All Major Roads to have Cycle Tracks Soon

Soon, Delhi will have dedicated cycle tracks on all major roads leading to Commonwealth Games venues. In an attempt to encourage non-motorized transportation modes, Delhi government has decided to construct cycle tracks on the roads so that tourists and other spectators can cycle to the venues during the mega sporting event. Emphasis will also be laid on pedestrianisation.

Walking and cycling are the preferred modes of commuting within the city for a large percentage of Delhites. While the cycle tracks will be made along the approach roads to stadia and the Games Village, there are plans of making cycle tracks all along the city's roads after the Games.

Said chief secretary Rakesh Mehta: "We want to make the area around the venues and the Games Village pedestrian-friendly. At least 30%-40% of Delhi's population walk and proper footpaths are a requirement. We also want to create cycle tracks which we would like to extend to the rest of the city after the Games taking into consideration views of other stakeholders.''

For the time-being the cycle tracks will be created along the 4-5 km road length leading up to stadia like Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Siri Fort Sports Complex, Yamuna Sports Complex, Indira Gandhi Stadium, National Stadium, Thyagaraj Stadium, Chattrasal Stadium etc.

All three agencies MCD, PWD, NDMC have appointed consultants for carrying out the work of streetscape and making Delhi pedestrian-friendly and creating cycle tracks is part of this project.

Said Pradeep Sachdeva, who has been hired as a consultant for PWD: "Usage of non-motorized vehicles needs to be encouraged in the city and we will be creating proper footpaths and cycle tracks along Lodhi Road, Bhishm Pitamah Marg, and Stadium Marg etc. Sculptures and other art forms will be included as part of the streetscape work to increase aesthetic appeal of the city.''

According to PWD officials, the combined cost of carrying out streetscape work in MCD and PWD areas is Rs 350 crore. While NDMC and PWD have begun with streetscape work, MCD is yet to do so.

One of the few other roads in the city with operational cycle tracks running through the length of the stretch is the pilot BRT corridor from Ambedkar Nagar to Delhi Gate. Even though the cycle tracks are well designed and used by scores of cyclists everyday, main problem is that of encroachment. Near Madangir, for instance, the cycle tracks and even footpaths are encroached by unauthorized parking of cars and even by Blueline buses. As a result, the cyclists are forced to fight for space with traffic on the main road.

DTC Buses to be Painted Green before Games

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit Gives green Signal to paint all DTC buses in green before 2010 CWG.

Fleet of yellow and green Delhi Transport Corporation buses is all set to don a new look. Before the Commonwealth Games in October 2010, DTC's old fleet of 2,000 buses will acquire a fresh coat of "grass green" color.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has approved the color scheme and the buses will be repainted by April 2010.

"We want to change DTC's image before the Commonwealth Games in October next year. Changing its look is a part of it," Delhi transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said.

"DTC is not just about buses. We want to run it... like the metro or the railways."
The yellow and green buses have been synonymous with the city's public transport since the DTC came into existence in 1971. And even the DTC cadre seems to be welcoming the proposed change.

"There is an enthusiasm among workers which has never been seen before," said M.K. Sardana, the depot manager who has worked with DTC for over 35 years. "The idea of changing the color has filled them with fresh energy."

Before the 2010 Commonwealth Games begins, DTC will have a fresh batch of 7,000 new buses to aid its existing fleet of around 2,000 buses. Before 2002, DTC buses were primarily yellow in color with one thick band of green and white running through the lower half of the bus.

Then, came the biggest transformation in DTC's history and diesel run old buses were converted into a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)propelled fleet, making it the world's largest environment-friendly public transport system. DTC added another band of green to denote its shift to an environment-friendly public transport system.

Seven year hence, the DTC has completely changed the color scheme of the bus and reduced yellow color to a thin band of just five centimeters.

With the new low-floor buses in bright green (non-air conditioned) and red (air conditioned) color, the old fleet in grass green color is expected to make it look "more attractive".

"With these attractive buses, public transport is getting a new look figuratively as well as literally," said Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta, who headed the DTC during its switch from diesel to CNG.

The green interior of the bus will also be changed to grey to make it look "bright from inside". While the color of the upholstery will remain the same, all buses will boast of new seats.

The front and the rear destination boards will be converted to LED-based alpha-numeric dual display that will be visible even in daylight.

Mission Peace: Gill to broker peace between CGF and Kalmadi

Sports Minister M S Gill will attempt to resolve a bitter dispute between the 2010 Commonwealth Games Organizers and its parent body in London later this week amid indications that both the warring parties would try to work out a compromise.

The build-up to the Commonwealth Games has been marred by a series of controversies and unsavory public spat between Organizing Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi and CGF Chief Executive Officer Mike Hooper.

The dispute reached boiling point on October 15 when the OC demanded Hooper's transfer out of Delhi calling him "useless" and "an impediment" to the smooth functioning of the Organizing Committee.

Hooper, however, received the full backing from the Commonwealth Games Federation with its president Michael Fennell making it clear that he would not be asked to leave India.

Kalmadi though has climbed down a bit from his earlier tough stand. Before his departure for London for the Queen's Baton Relay on October 29, he said he did not want any more confrontations and would try to resolve the issues through talks.

The other bond of contention revolved around the CGF's proposal to form an independent monitoring panel to oversee the preparations for the October 3-14 sporting extravaganza.

Though the CWG OC rejected the proposal, Fennell has made it clear that he would stick to the monitoring panel.

As the showdown between the two parties intensifies, Sports Minister Gill had stepped in to broker peace and has already had a meeting with Kalmadi before the OC chairman left for London for the QBR.

The top brass of the CGF as well as the OC will be in London for the QBR scheduled for October 29-30. This will give Gill the opportunity to interact with Fennell and get his views on the tussle that has been going on for some time.

"Whatever has happened is not right and shouldn't have happened. I am going to London for the Queen's Baton Relay on October 29 and there I will meet Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Fennell and Kalmadi. I will talk to them and try to resolve the matter. I will listen to both the sides," Gill had said.

Wary of further slippages in the capital's preparations, the CGF, at its Executive Committee meeting here on October 12, had decided to form an independent monitoring panel to oversee the progress of work so that the deadlines are met.

However, that proposal was met with stiff opposition with a miffed CWG OC rejecting it outright. The OC also set the stage for a showdown with the CGF demanding the transfer of its CEO Hopper who has been camping here for the past two years.

Fennell rejected Hooper's transfer besides also making it clear that the monitoring panel will not be scrapped. He bluntly told the CWG Organizing Committee to focus on the work at hand instead of calling for somebody's head.

Doordarshan Ready for HD Coverage of 2010 Games

After giving color television to the nation during the Asians Games in 1982, the Doordarshan is gearing up for the high definition telecast of the Commonwealth Games 2010.

Doordarshan Director General (DG) Aruna Sharma told about its preparedness for coverage of the Commonwealth Games.

She said that the Doordarshan is well equipped to handle all kinds of coverage and is well prepared with high definition format, which will spur a new kind of revolution in television industry.

Sharma exudes confidence that all the preparations for the Commonwealth Games are on full swing and it will be done in time to showcase the preparedness for the world class television coverage of the event.

The DG said: “For the first time the Commonwealth Games will be covered in high definition format. The CW Games will also be broadcasted for the first time globally.”

The Centre has sanctioned a budget of Rs 366 crore for coverage of the Games and Doordarshan is hopeful to earn over Rs.110 crore from the Games coverage, Sharma said.

The Doordarshan is also holding World Broadcaster meet on Commonwealth Games in the capital, which scheduled from October 26-28.

During the meet there will be presentations from the host broadcaster about the preparations for productions and coverage of the games along with rate cards for the broadcasting the mega event.

“It is being held because broadcast right holders want to know about the host broadcaster’s preparations, and to look for broadcast partner for the telecasting the 2010 Commonwealth Games,” Sharma said.

There will be 37 delegates from eight countries who will participate in the meet. They will also be visiting games sites to see the preparations of the games from telecast point of view.

Training in China to benefit TT in 2010 CWG: coach

Indian paddlers' current training stint in China, their third within a year, will help them fine tune their skills as they look to bag a handful of medals in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, national coach Massimo Constantini.

Constatini, who is with the Indian players currently undergoing a 17-day special camp in Zhengding, China, said playing practice matches against Chinese paddlers would pay rich dividends in the Delhi Games.

"In next year's Commonwealth Games, we are going to play mostly against the Chinese players (representing nations like Singapore, Australia, Canada and Malaysia). So we need to be closer to them by making ourselves habitual to their style of play to succeed next year," Constantini told from China.

"I believe training in China gives the players a different motivation. A different lifestyle and food. We are training at a table tennis superpower country. So, the entire mentality of our players change," he said.

Of late, the ping pong sport in India is making strides towards professionalism, especially in the run-up to the Delhi Games, which has made Constatini happy.

"It is the best preparation we have -- very close to the Chinese style and very far to the European one. I am quite convinced if the government keeps supporting us in every matter, we would be working for bringing the best results for the country," said the former Italian paddler.

Olympic Heroes not included in Queen’s Baton Relay

Athens Olympics silver medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games hero Samaresh Jung have not been included in the elite list of 12 Indian athletes who will form part of the Queen's Baton Relay to be held in London on October 29.

2010 Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi announced the names of 12 athletes who have been cleared by the government, but these two names were not there.

Another notable name missing is that of 1996 Atlanta Olympics bronze medalist Leander Paes. But official sources said the government has been unable to contact Leander. "His name has been cleared by the government so even if he lands in London a day before, he will be part of the run," said a source in the Organizing Committee.

"I have no clue about this. I am presently training in the US, but I have not been contacted at all," said Rathore.

The list of 12 was finally cleared by the sports ministry, but who vetted the names is a matter of intrigue. Surely, the inclusion of former Asian squash champion Misha Grewal ahead of Rathore and Jung is jarring.

While the list of officials who will go on the jamboree was not made public, it is believed close to 25 names have been cleared.

In fact, Jung told on Friday. "These things really don't surprise me. If I start worrying about why I am not included in a list of athletes who will go for the baton run, I will not be able to focus on my shooting. All the same, I am surprised why I am not there," said Jung.

At the last Commonwealth Games in 2006 at Melbourne, where 71 countries competed, Jung claimed five gold medals, one silver and one bronze. So there was little debate when he was finally named the 'Most Outstanding Athlete' in Melbourne and picked for the David Dixon Award. More than not being picked for the Queen's Baton Relay, what irks Jung is how no foreign pistol shooting coach has still been hired. "After the Beijing Olympics, we are still to get a foreign coach. I shoot at the national camps or train on my own in Delhi," said Jung.

Perhaps, sports minister MS Gill will do well to find out how this faux pas happened where Rathore and Jung have been left out. After all, after the minister met Suresh Kalmadi, the IOA boss and OC chairman has changed his stand towards Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper.

"Don't ask about it (Hooper controversy) now. We want to sort out matters through talks. We don't want any more confrontation. Hopefully, we will sort out our concerns when I meet (Mike) Fennell in London," said Kalmadi.

Meanwhile, besides Bindra, the other baton bearers who will be present at the Buckingham Palace and Queen Victoria Memorial will be being Olympics bronze medallists Vijender Kumar and Sushil Kumar, 1958 Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Milkha Singh and Olympian Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, 1980 All-England badminton champion Prakash Padukone, India's World Cup winning cricket captain Kapil Dev, 2000 Olympic Games bronze medal winning weightlifter Karnam Malleswari, tennis ace Sania Mirza, the world's most capped hockey player Dilip Tirkey. India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia will also fly to England after his team East Bengal cleared him to participate in the Relay.

Kalmadi said the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay marks a significant milestone for Delhi 2010. "As the Baton begins its journey of 1, 90,000km across member nations and territories of the Commonwealth Games Federation over 340 days, it will touch the lives of millions of people," he said.

"The Queen's Baton Relay will bind the people of the Commonwealth as one, spreading the message of peace, goodwill and the joy of sport," he said. "It will also tell them about the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, the glorious heritage of the wonderful city and the amazing potential of India as a great destination for tourism and economic investment."

Suresh Kalmadi to resolve difference with CGF Officials

Organizers of the 2010 Commonwealth Games will try to resolve the rift with a top official of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Suresh Kalmadi, head of New Delhi 2010 organizing committee, would try to resolve the differences at a meeting with CGF officials during the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay in London.

Kalmadi had demanded that the CGF recall its chief executive Mike Hooper from New Delhi to London, claiming that he was "of no use" and had been an "impediment to functioning" of the organizing committee.

The CGF had rejected Kalmadi's demand and expressed support for Hooper, who had criticized New Delhi's slow pace of venue construction.

"We want to sort out matters through talks. We don't want any more confrontation," quoted Kalmadi before his departure for London.

The Queen's Baton Relay will start from Buckingham Palace in London on Thursday.

Preparations for the event are behind schedule and the CGF had said Delhi faces serious challenges in being ready to host the games.

Delhi Govt. Pumps in Rs. 350 Crores for Delhi’s infrastructure Development

The Delhi government has sanctioned Rs.350 crore (Rs.3.5 billion) for improving the city’s basic infrastructure ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The expenditure finance committee of the Delhi government has sanctioned the funds for nine projects. These included projects to augment transportation facility, resurfacing of roads, and up-gradation of street lighting in time for the games scheduled in October next year.

Speaking after the committee meeting attended by senior officials, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said four new Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus depots will be constructed for parking 710 buses which are being added to the city fleet. This project will take nine months to complete, she said.

She said the committee had sanctioned Rs.108.8 million to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for road projects and Rs.610 million for upgradation of street lights.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fund Strapped Government is thinking over single pass for stadiums, DTC and Metro

Who will pay for the bus and Metro tickets of thousands of spectators arriving for the Commonwealth Games events? The question has both the cash-strapped Delhi government and the Games organizing committee in a fix.

The question arose after the traffic police sought a system of common ticketing — that is, a stadium ticket can double as a Metro or DTC pass. The idea, according to officials, is meant to ensure there are fewer cars on the roads.

The traffic police are anticipating a heavy rush during the Games fortnight as one lane will be dedicated for athletes to travel to the venues.

“Every stadium has a Metro station in the vicinity,” Joint Commissioner (Traffic) S N Shrivastava said. “The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, for example, has two Metro stations (near it). If spectators are allowed to use the same ticket for entry to the Games venues as well to travel in the Metro, they are more likely to dump their cars.”

The fund-starved government, though, is shying away from the extra expenditure. According to estimates, the government will have to shell out Rs 20 crore for DTC and Metro passes if the plan is implemented. A DTC pass for a day costs Rs 40; Delhi Metro charges Rs 50 for a day-long pass.

“DTC has offered to give us a 20 per cent discount, while the Metro has rejected the proposal for a fare waiver. We will soon work out a solution,” Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta said.

Indian PM Taking keen interest in 2010 CWG Developments

Sports minister M.S. Gill said Monday that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken special interest in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and holds meetings regularly to ensure the success of the mega event that will be held here next year Oct 3-14.

"The Prime Minister takes meetings regularly and has given the Group of Ministers under Jaipal Reddy the mandate to ensure that we are ready and complete for the Games. The Prime Minister is clear that whatever needs to be spent for a successful conduct of the Games will be done," he said.

"In order to expand the budget of the Organizing Committee as is necessary according to financial examination of proposals made, we are about to go to Cabinet and get the sanction," Gill added.


Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Organizing Committee (OC), also assured that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) delegates, who are here for the General Assembly, are happy with the progress.

"There are many challenges but I can assure you that we will live up to them. We have the full support from the government. I ensure that Delhi will put its best foot forward to host the games.

Gill said that nothing should be taken for granted till the end of the Commonwealth Games.

"This is not Melbourne, this is not Glasgow. Delhi is a city of 15 million people, one of the greatest cities of India. We have made progress over the past few months, but plenty needs to be done. We are confident that we will do a good job," he said.

CGF Announces Review Panel for 2010 Delhi CWG

Commonwealth Games Federation President, Michael Fennell, has announced the formation of an independent Technical Review Committee of international Games' experts to fast-track Delhi's preparations to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Fennell made the announcement following the meeting of all Commonwealth nations and territories at his organization’s General Assembly in Delhi.

I made it well known before arriving in Delhi this week that the CGF believes Delhi faces an enormous challenge in being ready to host the Games in October next year," Fennell said. "But while the CGF can express its concerns and offer its advice, it is the Organizing Committee, along with the Governments of India and Delhi, who have the responsibility of organizing the Delhi 2010 Games.

"The CGF remains aware that while initial changes have occurred with the appointment of some functional experts, progress will need to be constantly monitored, and at times, fast-tracked.

"With two years to go to the Delhi Games I said to the Organizing Committee that time was not their friend. With one year to go, I now say that time is your enemy, but together we can defeat it. To this end, the CGF Executive Board has decided to establish a high level independent Technical Review Panel that will meet each month and monitor progress against promise.

"This Technical Review Panel will report monthly - in an open and transparent fashion - to all stakeholders - the Prime Minister's Office, the Government of Delhi, to the Organizing Committee, the CGF, the CGAs and the media. The panel will consist of a Chairman and other experts, all with vast Games' experience.

"We will empower them to call in other technical experts as required, and to liaise and engage with CGA representatives to ensure relevant policies are put in place and implemented. The Panel will establish timelines for all areas, monitor progress against those timelines, and assist the OC to create policies and plans to deliver the Games.

"It will then report openly at the end of each meeting, presenting its findings to a media conference to ensure it is operating, and is seen to be operating, transparently.

"By having this review board report in this public forum, all involved - CGAs, athletes, coaches, administrators, commercial partners and media - can gain confidence that Delhi will be ready to welcome them in September next year.

"But the Review Board alone is not the answer. Our Coordination Commission will continue to visit, with its next visit in December, when the Organizing Committee has undertaken to address all key issues across all functional areas. The Organizing Committee knows of its own deficiencies and Mr Kalmadi is committed to achieving a great Game for India.

"I have no doubt that these Games can still be great. But now every day is pivotal and every hour vital."

Fiji suspended from 2010 Games

The Commonwealth Games Federation has formally suspended Fiji's membership, ruling it out of the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be staged in New Delhi.

"Consequent to Fiji's suspension from the Commonwealth, its membership of the Commonwealth Games Federation has also been suspended," CGF president Michael Fennell said after the CGF general assembly in New Delhi.

The Commonwealth suspended Fiji last month after it failed to meet certain conditions of membership, including holding early democratic elections.

Fennell said the CGF would approach the Commonwealth Secretary-General with a recommendation "that sport be removed from the sanction imposed upon a nation suspended from the Commonwealth."

Fennell said such an exemption could provide Fiji's athletes an opportunity to participate in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which are scheduled for Oct. 3-14.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beggars to have hard times in Delhi in coming days

In a bid to spruce up the capital before the Commonwealth Games, the city government is coordinating with neighboring states to deal with the problem of begging.

The Delhi High Court was informed about these steps on Thursday while it was hearing a suo motu case on the issue of begging in Delhi. The government contended before HC that 90% of beggars happen to be immigrants and efforts are being made to repatriate them for which close interaction between officials of other states is the key.

For this purpose, the government said that a meeting of certain states including NCT Delhi, UP, Bihar and Jharkhand was held to draw up a mechanism to send the beggars back. Appearing for the central government, Counsel Jatan Singh submitted before a division bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Ajit Bharihoke that the social welfare ministry had convened a meeting on October 6 which was attended by senior officers from various states. ‘‘A final decision on the issue would be taken at their next meeting,’’ he said.

The bench had pulled up the NCT government for its failure to implement the suggestions of V P Chaudhary, amicus curiae, that the city should have at least mobile courts to dispose of begging-related cases on the spot. The amicus also suggested the government should make efforts to provide skill training in beggars’ homes so that they could be rehabilitated.

Common Man was blocked from road access to give the delegates a smooth ride

Even as delegates of the Commonwealth General Assembly criss-crossed the city to take stock of Delhi’s preparedness for the Games, no major disruption in movement of traffic was reported from anywhere. The traffic police attributed it to thin vehicular movement and say people were cooperative and followed advisories. The delegates will continue visiting various sites on Friday but motorists needn’t worry.

The traffic police don’t anticipate any congestion on Friday because the delegates will move around in three groups and the visits are not concentrated in just one area. The first group will go to Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, then Kadarpur, Gurgaon via MB Road and MG Road and then back to Hotel Ashok. The second group will visit Yamuna Sports Complex, India Gate, Delhi University via Ring Road and back to Hotel Ashok. The third group will first head for Delhi University, then RK Khanna Stadium, Siri Fort and back to the hotel. The movement will start at 8am and continue till about 7pm.

‘‘We are not expecting much congestion on Friday since the movement is scattered across a large area, unlike Thursday when both the groups were moving around in central Delhi only. The buses will be given a free passage, but all the roads will be accessible,’’ said S N Shrivastava, joint commissioner of police (traffic). The delegates split into two groups visited Commonwealth Games Village, IG Stadium, National Stadium, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Tyagaraj Stadium, Talkatora Stadium and SPM Aquatics Centre on Thursday. There was a last-minute change in plan and the delegates were also taken to the Commonwealth Organizing Committee (OC) headquarters in Connaught Place around 5.30pm. The last visit caused some congestion in Outer Circle and some of the radial roads were closed for a brief while during the evening rush hour. But apart from this, there was no disruption in traffic during the day.

‘‘After seeing the situation on Thursday, we’re sure that management of traffic during the Games will be done very well. The people of Delhi were very cooperative. Traffic on all the affected roads was very thin and not a single call for jams came,’’ Shrivastava added.

Delegates Happy with the preparation but expressed concerns over some issues

As delegates from 71 countries started their inspection of Commonwealth Games venues on Thursday, Delhiites could easily have mistaken it for a state visit. Security was tight and the delegates were always ringed by attending Organizing Committee officials and volunteers. With mounting speculation over India’s preparedness to host the 2010 Games, the OC made extra efforts to keep the delegates away from the media. At the end of the day, the verdict was trotted out: OC declared that the visiting delegates had found the infrastructure ‘‘impressive’’ and called forth four delegates to back up its claim, even as it hustled out the rest away from the media glare. The tight security, however, failed to stop adverse comments, with some of the delegates admitting that the city’s preparedness wasn’t up to scratch. A delegate from the British Virgin Islands claimed that while it seemed that work was going on at a fast pace, ‘‘a lot more needs to be done’’.

That seemed to be the sentiment of Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Fennell as well. Asked whether he felt things were moving in a positive direction, Fennell smiled: ‘‘I would simply say it was a busy day’’. He was generally tightlipped. ‘‘I don’t wish to comment as we are not two sides. It is a process and everyone is trying to make it work for the Games,’’ he told TOI. The pace of work seemed to be the sticking point, as sources said that delegates enquired about how long it would take for all the venues to be ready. The questions came despite the tour having started with two venues that are relatively on time — the Commonwealth Games Village and Thyagraj stadium. The Village elicited a positive response from the visiting delegates — most felt it would turn out to be one of the best Villages in the Games’ history. The Thyagraj venue was also praised for its appearance, said sources.

The rest of the visit though made for a rough ride for the OC, sources said. While Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi stadiums were appreciated, the second half of the day saw delegates visit the Talkatora stadium, the national stadium and the S P Mukherjee aquatics pool. The latter is where delegates expressed apprehension, sources revealed. The SPM venue is one of the projects lagging behind considerably.

The day ended with a visit to the OC office, where delegates from Fiji, Cameroon and Mauritius were trotted out by the OC to express their delight with the preparations.

Fennell nods off at presentation

Commonwealth Games Federation president Michel Fennell, who has been keeping a hawk eye on preparations for the 2010 games, was caught napping on Thursday during inspection of a venue. At the Thyagraj complex, a slide-show was arranged and Fennell was seen napping, along with a few other members of the delegation and he woke up towards the end of the presentation.
Games Village draws applause

Canada struck a discordant note with its delegate finding it hard to give any positive feedback but there were many among the 70 officials in the review team who expressed their satisfaction over the pace of work and said Delhi can definitely do it

India probably isn’t doing all that badly on the Commonwealth Games front. Though CGF chief Michael Fennell isn’t too convinced — he recently penned down his apprehensions about the preparations for the Games in a letter to the prime minister — many of the 70-odd delegates who are in the city for an inspection evidently felt otherwise. There were exceptions like Canada, the country which had lost out to Delhi in 2003 when pitching for the Games at Hamilton.

The Games Village got a definite thumbs-up and other buildings too were pronounced to be doing okay with the representatives expressing a conviction about projects finally meeting deadlines, thanks to the large manpower. However, it was the logistics, the ‘‘software’’ of the Games, that raised some concerns, largely because of the delayed submission of the transportation plans. Overall though things were pronounced satisfactory.

The Canadian outburst came with a long list of woes, the most pronounced of which seemed to be India’s failure to have done block-booking of seats in airlines to fly in athletes and its reluctance to use overseas manpower for the Games. ‘‘There are issues we have about ticketing, accreditation, transportation, sports organization and communication. There are a wide variety of international experts available in all these fields. We are using them for organizing the Winter Games at Vancouver. It is a practice worldwide for host countries to take advantage of this expertise. India is not doing that,’’ said Andrew Pipe, the Canadian delegate. On the transportation front, he said: ‘‘India had missed the federation’s internal deadlines. We came with many questions which have not been answered yet and not getting satisfactory answers can have serious implications.’’ Probed on what these deadlines were and which ones were yet to be met, he did not specify.

Not many it seemed had contracted his cynicism. Vivian Gungaram from Mauritius is very clear that the Commonwealth Games Village here is ‘‘much better than the one in Melbourne’’ and as for transportation, if India managed to put the same system in place as it had done on Thursday morning, it would be ‘‘marvelous’’. Both he and David Ojong from Cameroon agreed that comparing India with Melbourne in terms of preparedness a year ago is not fair because that was three years ago and everything was different, most of the entire world’s financial situation.

Ojong said: ‘‘There is some concern about the buildings meeting deadlines but the kind of manpower you have it is obvious you will do it. Thyagaraj Stadium is in fact unique.’’ Thyagaraj is a fully green structure.

Chris Jenkins who had come from Wales confessed that he was ‘‘impressed’’ with the Village but also said that it is obvious many of the buildings ‘‘have missed original deadlines. But that’s not so much of a worry as is the operational side of it. We have offered our help and we are very supportive of India. But the operational sides like accreditation, IT infrastructure etc have to be still worked on.’’

More funds for Games

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved additional fund for the expeditious completion of capital’s infrastructure for Commonwealth Games. On a day when the CWG Federation delegation inspected proposed venues to take stock of Delhi’s preparation for the Games, the Cabinet decided to allot more money. ‘‘There are certain areas in which the organizers are lagging behind and that’s why the Cabinet decided to allot some extra fund so that infrastructure is ready well in time,’’ a source said.
Delegates Happy with the preparation but expressed concerns over some issues

Thursday, October 8, 2009

30,000 volunteers to tender emergency care during CWG

As many as 30,000 young volunteers, who are fluent in English, will be trained to help people and reach them to hospitals in time in case of accidents during the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG). The first batch of 200 such youngsters has already been rolled out for the ongoing CWG General Assembly here.

The volunteers are being trained by an NGO, Philanthrope, along with the organizing committee of the 2010 CWG.

'Safety training is vital more so for any event involving large gathering of people. Philanthrope has developed diverse modules for safety training and we will adapt and customize these to suit the requirements outlined to us by the Organizing Committee,' Angeli Qwatra, founder head of Philanthrope, said Wednesday.

'It helps common people handle situations calmly, competently and methodically in a crisis and thus avert a potential fatality or risk. As has been said 'prevention is better than cure', and we are gratified at being entrusted with this important mandate,' she added.

The volunteers would be above 18 years of age, physically fit, fluent in English and with no criminal records.

The first batch of 200 volunteers was trained during a workshop last week and has been working during the General Assembly Oct 6-13. The remaining would be trained before June 2010.

Qwatra added: 'These measures will lead to saving lives, decreasing deaths from injuries and accidents as mishandling of victims by relatives/bystanders often leads to worsening of injuries and sometimes such mistakes cost the lives of their loved ones.'

According to Qwatra's research, knowledge on emergency help measures is very low even among the educated in India and people live with many myths and misconceptions, which often lead to accidents or injuries being handled wrongly.

CM updates PM on 2010 Games preparations

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to update him on the progress of projects related to the Commonwealth Games 2010.

Dikshit had a one-on-one meeting with the PM at his 7, Race Course Road residence at 12.30 pm. She made a presentation, highlighting what her government has done so far.

While Dikshit remained tightlipped about what transpired in the meeting, sources said Union Sports Minister M.S. Gill had been appointed coordinator for the Games.

“Gill will co-ordinate with the Indian Olympic Association on all matter related to the Games and oversee the work being done by different agencies,” said a government official, who didn’t wish to be named, as he was not authorized to speak to media.

Soon after the meeting with the PM, another meeting was held at Nirman Bhavan, the headquarters of the Union Urban Development ministry.

Dikshit, Gill and several other senior officials were present in the meeting along with Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy.

“It was a regular meeting about the Commonwealth Games,” was all that Gill was willing to say. Nothing much, however, transpired.

According to government sources, Games Organizing Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi could not make it to the meeting.

“He was tied up elsewhere and could not make it. The meeting has been scheduled now for Wednesday,” said a government official.

Asked about the meeting with the Prime Minister, the Sports Minister replied: “Matters of common concern were discussed at the meeting, where the Delhi Chief Minister was already present,” Gill said.

On the Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Fennell’s concern about the lack of preparedness for the Games, Gill said: “He is coming. I will meet him and discuss it.”

Later this week, Fennell is scheduled to meet the PM. Many are viewing Dikshit and Gill’s meeting with the PM as an attempt to show that the Centre was serious about successful completion of the Games.

Games inspection day

Chances are all will go well on Thursday, both on you way to work and back. But you could do well to plan.

Here comes Delhi’s first challenge, as delegates from the 71 member nations of the Commonwealth go around inspecting the 2010 Games venues.

The same sort of traffic disruptions may happen every day over 10 days next October — perhaps on a larger scale — when the Games get underway.

So Thursday is going to give the city a taste of things to come.

“Peak hour traffic will be affected,” said Delhi traffic chief S.N. Shrivastava. “Even non-peak hour traffic is quite heavy now, so it would be affected too.”

Routes to be taken by the 200 delegates have been marked and traffic will be stopped when they move, largely between the 13 venues.

Many Delhiites aware of the traffic advisory said they didn't know if they should be heading for the affected areas at all.

“I would rather stay home than risk getting stuck in a traffic jam,” said Tania Roy, a Rohini resident who’d planned to visit Connaught Place.

“This is just for a day,” said Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi. “Such restrictions are made in all countries that host mega sporting events.”

Kalmadi was quick to clarify, though, that Delhiites won’t face such restrictions during the Games. “There will be a dedicated lane for athletes and games officials,” he said.

Games officials also clarified that the inspections won’t determine the fate of the venues or of Delhi as host. The Games will be held here next October.

Maharaja to be official carrier for 2010 Commonwealth Games

Air India has been designated the official carrier for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and will be expected to provide special charters and services.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled to take place between 3-14 October 2010.

The carrier has already signed a memorandum of understanding for this with the organizers of the games.

Arvind Jadhav, chairman and managing director, said ''Air India has become the first company to be associated with the Commonwealth Games, and we will put our best foot forward as an official carrier.''

Gender Sensitivity needed in Delhi Police advised CM Sheila Dikshit

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit Tuesday said the police should become more gender sensitive ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games as a proposal was introduced to set up gender help-desks during the mega-sporting event.

We need a lot of cooperation from the police during the Commonwealth Games. Law and order is essentially a police subject. However, women’s issues take a different slant and hence routine police methods will have to be altered, bringing in sensitivity in handling the problems, said Dikshit.

She was speaking at a function at the Delhi secretariat where a proposal to set up gender help-desks across the city during the Games was introduced by the Delhi Commission of Women (DCW).

The chief minister said it was also important to have a database of taxi drivers to avoid “shameful” incidents of women being sexually assaulted by taxi drivers.

We have had a few very unfortunate shameful incidents of tourist women being sexually assaulted by taxi drivers and others. These security concerns have to be addressed. We have to create database of taxi service providers so that each transport facility is made accountable for safety, Dikshit said.

Such a database would also provide security against other crimes like robbery, she added.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

First Batch of Volunteers chosen for 2010 Games

Applicants From DU And Hospitality Sector

If you’ve been thinking of becoming the ‘‘face of the Commonwealth Games’’, here’s a peek at what you need to be one of the increasingly popular volunteers. ‘‘Enthusiasm, strong communication skills and the right body language are what we looked at while interviewing the applicants,’’ says Lalit Bhanot, secretary-general of the organising committee, which will be putting into service over 200 volunteers for the upcoming General Assembly of the Games from Monday.

With a steadily increasing number of applicants for the volunteer services, the OC hopes its first batch will be able to change a hitherto dismal picture of the Delhi Games. It’s a hope that could well work, as evident from the articulate and enthusiastic bunch of volunteers that have been trained in the past month. Shraddha Sharma, a 19-year-old hotel management student and one of the volunteers says, ‘‘It’s an opportunity for me to represent my country. I’ve been talking about my training to my relatives and friends and they’re now all excited as well.’’

The training has been exhaustive. From lessons on body language and English-speaking abilities to how to administer first-aid, the three-day session was packed with information. ‘‘The first day was basic general training. The second and third days were more grilling but fun: we learnt all about Indian sportpersons, venues, international and Indian sports laws as well as about giving first-aid and disaster management,’’ reveals Sharma. That wasn’t all. The volunteers were made to go through the paces when it came to information on Commonwealth Games and the countries that are part of the group, as well as all the various aspects about sports administration, including sports psychology.

And to ensure that the volunteers remember their lessons, a handbook was given out. The handbook, a kind of checklist, has details on the Games and venues as well as handy reminders to volunteers — from not to forget to get water while getting out to ensuring that the right shoe colour has been chosen with the uniform given.

The selection process was fairly long, admit OC officials. Almost 600 students from LSR, Khalsa College, Delhi College of Engineering, as well as the ministry of tourism supported hospitality institutes like IHM, IITTM and ICM were screened before 200 were chosen to undergo the training. The traits being looked at were simple: enthusiasm, the ‘‘right’’ body language, someone ‘‘pleasant to speak to’’ and 18 and above. Added Bhanot, ‘‘The enthusiasm of the volunteers was contagious.’’ The chosen ones were given special training in 17 functional areas — press relations, protocol, communication, Commonwealth Games Association relations, catering, transport and others. So while the students from DCE were asked to help out in technology, LSR girls were asked to be part of communication. The students from the hospitality industry stepped in to be trained in the concerned field while Khalsa students got a crash course in protocol and CGA relations.

Verified by the police, the 200-odd volunteers will be asked to help out over the next week as representatives from the other Commonwealth Games countries come for a visit. But the impact’s expected to be far-reaching than that. As Sharma adds, ‘‘The training will help me in the future too. But the best part is that I get to be part of history.’’

Source: http://epaper.timesofindia.com

DTC Added 107 new buses to its low-floor fleet

83 To Ply On Three Routes In BRT Corridor

Finally, some good news regarding low floor buses. On Sunday, 107 low-floor buses — maximum in a single lot so far — were added to DTC fleet, increasing the number of total DTC buses plying on city roads to 6,500.

The new buses, said sources, would be mostly pressed into service in the BRT corridor, bringing relief to thousands of commuters who use these routes. Commuters in other parts of the city will have to wait till March next year to get better frequency of low-floor buses. The government hopes to increase the number of this fleet to 3,125 by end of March.

Commissioning the new buses, chief minister Sheila Dikshit said many more such vehicles are needed. ‘‘London has 10,000 buses and for 1.6 crore population, we need to have more of such buses. We saw this dream 3-4 years ago, but there were design related issues. We rectified them and brought these buses,’’ she said.

The CM claimed a big fleet of modern buses was a sign of ‘‘Delhi marching ahead’’ but stressed ‘‘the people should have a sense of responsibility towards these vehicles and maintain them properly’’. ‘‘Treat DTC buses as you treat your own car. For visitors, local buses are the first impression of the city. Keep them clean. For us, the priority is to shift twowheeler and car users to buses,’’ Dikshit said.

Transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely termed increase in the fleet of DTC buses a ‘‘new revolution in city’s transport system’’. ‘‘There is no alternate to DTC as far as public transport in Delhi is concerned. This would also save Delhiites from Blueline buses,’’ Lovely added.

Sources in the DTC said 83 buses of the new fleet would ply on three routes in the BRT corridor. Currently, low-floor buses plying on route No 419, 423 and 522 make around 731 trips per day. With new buses, the number would increase to 1036 trips per day.

DTC officials said that earlier the corporation was diverting buses from three depots — Sukhdev Vihar, Mayapuri and Subhash Palace — to serve commuters on the BRT corridor. But now a new depot has been started at Ambedkar Nagar and it would mean saving time and fuel. It would also free up a few buses that, said sources, would be diverted to other routes in the capital.

With these 107 buses, the number of AC buses on Delhi roads has increased to 55 and non-AC buses to 708. DTC managing director Naresh Kumar said the power of ACs in the new buses has been increased to bring maximum comfort to passengers. Dikshit also asked the transport department to explore the possibility of special tourist buses and doubledecker buses on select routes.


Road Revolution

Speed limit (40kmph) through engine management software
Gas leakage detection system
Tubeless tyres
Display of approaching bus stops with integrated voice announcement system compatible with GPS

Source : http://epaper.timesofindia.com

365 Days to go for 2010 Commonwealth games


The Commonwealth Games countdown clock started ticking in the capital on Saturday. The Organizing Committee of Games has also made some changes in mascot Shera to make it more attractive. The modified logo symbolizes India’s march towards modernity

70 weather stations to monitor City’s Climate During Games

IMD Puts In Place Mechanism To Correctly Forecast Conditions In Oct 2010

Weather and air quality monitoring and forecasting will form a special component of the planning for Commonwealth Games 2010. Functioning under the ministry of earth sciences, the Indian Meteorological Department has drawn up elaborate plans for the Commonwealth Games which include installing sophisticated equipment at all Games venues and Games Village to provide information and forecast for a period ranging from an hour to the next five days.

The Metropolitan Weather Information and Forecast System for the NCR of Delhi, including Commonwealth Games 2010’ is going to be a permanent project for the city and its surrounding areas with 70 automatic weather stations (AWS) to provide accurate information to organizers, athletes and spectators.

Another wing of the ministry, the Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) at Pune, will be setting up 10 monitoring stations to predict air quality status in a 50-km radius around the Games Village.

The stations will generate highly accurate data for a 4 km by 4 km area a day in advance. The ‘System of Air Pollution Forecasting and Research’ is a first of its kind monitoring programme that will collect and analyze data on air pollution and its causes for the entire country eventually.

The system for the Games will be in place by April and the data generated will be sent to a Mumbai based environment group for any mitigation action that may be required.

Dr S C Bhan, who is heading the IMD project, revealed that 10 AWS are already in place. ‘‘The project is going to be permanent, a part of IMD’s efforts to improve its services. The AWS are capable of taking information every minute and transferring to any location. We will be configuring these to get information every 10 minutes to 30 minutes. While the central forecasting office will be based at Lodhi Road, Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium and the Games Village will have a centre each,’’ Dr Bhan said.

IMD will be tying up with a private agency for help in setting up the equipment, work for which should start sometime early next year. ‘‘We are in constant touch with the organizers and have already provided them with detailed climatological data for the first fortnight of October. With sports having become highly scientific in its management and execution, we realized the need for very accurate weather data for all parties involved in the Games. Our forecasting will range from an hour to five days, each to help organizers and athletes to plan better,’’ said Bhan.

The five-day forecast will give an idea of the possible weather conditions over Delhi and NCR as a whole. The two-day forecast will be slightly more accurate and would be able to predict weather over each district. This will be followed by a 24-hour forecast, and finally the nowcast, a prediction for 1-6 hours.

‘This will be the most accurate and give weather information for specific locations. Data for temperature, humidity, comfort index, wind factor etc will be as essential for athletes to plan their strategies as for organizers in case there is a need to reschedule or even cancel events,’’ added Bhan. Dr Gufran Beg, who is the programme director for the air quality component, said that the 10 stations will not only record the level of air pollutants but also generate data based on weather conditions, terrain
etc to give a holistic idea of how weather pattern and emission sources would affect the air quality at a particular point during the Games.

‘‘There will be monitors at each venue that will predict air quality 24 hours in advance. Since we will start generating data by April, we will have a fair idea of the various factors that will be affecting air quality. Weather patterns, including temperature and wind speed and direction, will play a huge role in determining the level of pollutants. This data will help the agencies concerned to devise a plan to deal with the pollution levels,’’ he said.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One Year to Go, Shera On Track

An overview of Indian Athletes readiness for 2010 Commonwealth Games

The 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games are now exactly a year away. Let us take a look at the Indian teams, their preparations and their medal chances at the mega event.

SHOOTING

Abhinav Bindra, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Samaresh Jung, Gagan Narang, Ronjan Sodhi, Anjali Bhagwat.... the list of India's world-beating shooters is getting longer. So, despite the preparation camp being hampered by the absence of rifle and pistol coaches, an unfinished Delhi range and a nation-wide swine-flu scare, India's shooting fraternity is quietly confident of yet another superlative show at Delhi 2010.

A core group of 150 shooters is toiling hard in the camp, now on in Pune, gunning for the 40 gold medals at stake. They are being put through a series of sessions that is a mix of practice and trial competitions. The shooters' calendar is packed till the Games with four World Cups, a World Championship and the Commonwealth Championship, to be held in Delhi in February, which is expected to give the shooters a dry run. Pistol shooters are still without a coach and rifle shooters are keenly awaiting the arrival of Stanislav Lapidus. The lucky ones are the shotgun shooters who are guided by top coaches Marcello Dradi and Zhang Shan.

Coaches: Marcello Dradi, Zhang Shan (shot gun), Sunny Thomas Last two Games: Manchester 2002: 14-7-3; Melbourne 2006: 16-7-4 Events in the run-up: World Cup final, Asian Airgun championship, World Cup (four events), World Championship, SAF Games, Commonwealth Championships.

Possible medal count: More than Melbourne's tally of 27 medals


BOXING

The Indian boxing federation has created a core group of 44 boxers who are undergoing training at the national boxing camp at Patiala. This group is likely to be pruned after the Nationals in October end. The Nationals will be followed by Super Cup in Mumbai in January which will be a selection ground for the Commonwealth Championships to be held in March in Delhi. The boxers will then be back at the camp till it's time for the final dress rehearsal -- Mini National Games -- at the Talkatora Stadium in July. The final team of 11 will be announced thereafter

Coach: GS Sandhu

Recent Record: 2006 Melbourne: 1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze. 2002 Manchester: 1gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze. 1998 Kuala Lumpur: 1 silver.

Possible medal count: Although, the federation refused to take names, they are expecting two to three gold medals.


ATHLETICS

Indian athletes have not had much to boast of as far as the Commonwealth Games are concerned, with the country bagging just five medals so far in track and field events since 1978, when the first Games were held. This time, the hosts are hoping for a turnaround in their fortunes. Athletics Federation of India (AFI) officials insist the preparations are on the right track and India could win "six to eight" medals at home. At present 200 athletes are training in three SAI centres -- in Kolkata, Bangalore and Patiala. India is hoping to win medals in discus, shot put, relay races and triple jump.

Last Two Games: Manchester: 0-1-1; Melbourne: 0-2-0

Upcoming: The AFI is expected to release a calendar next month which, it said, will focus on giving athletes proper exposure for 2010.

Possible medal count: Six


BADMINTON

The Indian badminton team hasn't been preparing specifically for the Commonwealth Games and plans of getting the entire contingent to train together under one roof will materialise only a month or two before the event. Till then, the players are free to play the tournaments they want to. They will also be training at their respective bases. National coach Gopi Chand says he isn't too worried about the specific preparations for the Games as his players are doing well on the international circuit.

Coach: Gopi Chand, Hadi Idris (doubles)

Past record (medals): Kingston (Jamaica) 1966: Dinesh Khanna (bronze, men's singles); Edmonton (Canada) 1978: Prakash Padukone (gold, men's singles), Ami Ghia & Kanwal Thakur Singh (bronze, women's doubles); Brisbane (Australia) 1982: Syed Modi (gold, men's singles); Auckland (New Zealand) 1990: Deepti Thanekar (bronze, women's singles); Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) 1998: Aparna Popat (silver, women's singles), Gopi Chand (bronze, men's singles), silver, men's team & bronze, women's team; Manchester (England) 2002: Aparna Popat (bronze, women's singles); Melbourne (Australia) 2006: Chetan Anand (bronze, men's singles), India also won bronze in the team event in the combined format.

Upcoming events: Denmark Super Series (Oct 20-25), French Open (Oct 27-Nov 1), Hong Kong Open (Nov 10-15), China Open (Nov 17-22).

Medals expected: Gopi is sure Saina Nehwal will win gold in women's singles. He's also hoping for gold in the mixed doubles as Jwala Gutta and V Diju are in good form.


ARCHERY

The sports ministry has selected a total of 64 archers, in recurve and compound categories, for specialized training for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The training is on at the Sports Authority of India, Eastern Centre at Kolkata. The Archery Association of India (AAI) is planning to trim down the probables list to eight by next month. Going by present form, Indian archers are not doing very well, but there's still time for them to pick up at the right time.

Coach: Limba Ram. This Arjuna award winner missed a medal by only one point in Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Past record: Archery was included as an optional sport in CWG in Brisbane in 1982. India went medal-less there.

Upcoming: Asian Grand Prix in Dhaka in October this year and the Asian Championship at Bali in November. Next year, India will take part in all the five Archery World Cups.

Medals expected: Mangal Singh Champia plus men's team event in recurve. Ladies compound team event.

Individual event: Jhanu Hansda (compound)


HOCKEY

The women’s hockey team reached new heights with gold medal in the 2002 Games, but all along it has been a struggle for the men’s team. This time, Jose Brasa’s men are preparing in right earnest to make it count. The team, after a long camp, is off to Canada for a seven-Test series. They have a busy calendar in the run-up to the event. The women, on the other hand, are busy honing their skills in Bhopal. Their crucial test will come in the Asia Cup in Bangkok later this year.

Coach: Jose Brasa (men), MK Kaushik (women)

Last 2 Games: Manchester: Gold (women), Melbourne: Silver (women)

Medal expected: 2

Men's calendar: A four-nation invitational tournament, World Cup in March, proposed tour of Europe, Azlan Shah Cup

Women's calendar: Asia Cup in Bangkok


WEIGHTLIFTING

Indian weightlifters have, it seems, been destined to live with the stigma of doping scandals despite stellar performances. So, when India returned with no medals from the Asian Championships in Kazakhstan recently, there was hardly any disappointment. In fact, officials were relieved that no one was caught in the doping net. Though, weightlifters managed to get fourth spot, chief national coach Harnaam Singh took a realistic view: "Frankly speaking, we did not have any chance of winning a medal there. But the upcoming Commonwealth Championships in Malaysia (October 18) will be a big test."

Past record: India has so far won 93 medals in Commonwealth Games so far (33 gold, 39 silver, 21 bronze).

Expected medals: In men's category, VS Rao (56kg) and Ravi Kumar (69 kg) are the top medal contenders. In the women's section, Geeta Rani (75+) and Yumnam Chanu (58kg) will once again be gunning for gold in Delhi.

Weightlifters banned: Edwin Raju and Tejinder Singh tested positive at the 2006 Melbourne while Prameelavalli Bodari and Shailaja Pujari failed dope tests before it and were banned by IWF from the 2006 Games.


SQUASH

The Indian squash team will face some of the best players in the world with traditional powerhouses Pakistan, England, Australia and Canada vying for honours. The national squash federation has picked 15 men and 12 women players in the “core-probables” list and the coaching programme involves training both at the Indian Squash Academy, Chennai and abroad. Besides, the players have been sent for exposure trips to England, Malaysia and Egypt.

Coaches:

National coach: Cyrus Poncha,

Foreign coach: Subramaniam Singaraveloo

Past record: No medals so far.

Expected medals: The hosts will be looking for doubles medals in both men's and women's.


WRESTLING

India is one of the strongest teams among Commonwealth countries in wrestling with challenges likely to come from Canada and Nigeria in some weight categories. Preparatory camps are being held simultaneously at NIS, Patiala, and the SAI centre in Sonepat. The top four wrestlers from last year’s national championships have been selected from each weight category in the men's and women's sections and are undergoing systematic training at the camps. The teams have been taking part in international meets as well as Grand Prix events.

Coaches:

Men’s freestyle: Jagminder,

Men’s Greco-Roman: Har Govind,

Women: PR Sondhi

Past Record: India had a rich haul at the 2002 Manchester Games, winning three gold and three silver. Wrestling didn’t feature in the 2006 Melbourne Games.

Build-up: Commonwealth Championships in December and the Asian Championships in Delhi in May next year.

Possible Medal count: About 10 medals


TABLE TENNIS

China might not be a part of the Commonwealth group of nations, but paddlers of Chinese-origin play for teams like Singapore, Australia, Canada and Scotland. India’s Italian coach Massimo Constantini feels the team should train in China as much as possible to stand a chance against the superpowers. “Even their provincial players are so good. The Chinese have a lot of variety in their play and if our players can get to spar with them regularly, it’ll help us prepare better for the Games,” says Constantini, who will be accompanying the players to Zhengding, China, for a 15-day training camp later this month. Meanwhile, the Indian team has begun its preparations for the Games with regular camps in Pune, Patiala and Ajmer. As of now there are 37 core probables (20 men and 17 women), but Constantini wants to reduce the number to 24 next January.

Coach: Massimo Constantini (Italy), Bhawani Mukherjee (SAI).

Past record (medals): Melbourne 2006: Achanta Sharath Kamal (gold, men's singles); gold, men's team; bronze, women's team. Manchester (England) 2002: 3 bronze (men's singles, men's doubles and men's team)

Upcoming events: Training camp in Zhengding, China (Oct 11-28); English Open (Oct 28-Nov 1); Asian Championship, Lucknow (Nov 16-22); 2010 calendar hasn't been decided

Possible medal count: 4-5 medals. “Sharath (Kamal) and Subhajit (Saha) are expected to get us medals and I'm confident of winning in the women's team event also. We could do well in the women's singles and mixed doubles events too," says Constantini.

SWIMMING

The 2010 Games have opened up a window of opportunities for Indian swimmers. They now figure in more international competitions and train at the bestavailable facilities in foreign countries with the assistance of renowned coaches. The first camp began at the Sports Authority of India (South Centre) campus in Bangalore in January 2008. Later, a 30-member contingent, led by National coach Pradeep Kumar, trained at the High Performance Training Centre in Pretoria (South Africa) while Virdhawal Khade, Sandeep Sejwal and J Agniswhar along with their coach Nihar Ameen went to Europe for training and competitions. The final camp, comprising 30 swimmers, will begin on October 12 in Pune. Another 75-day exposure trip is planned either to the US or Europe. The squad for the Games will be picked in April next year.

Past record: Four swimmers — Rehan Poncha, Arjun Muralidharan, Puneet Rana and Shikha Tandon — participated in the Melbourne Games and returned without any medals. No medals in the previous editions too.

Upcoming events: Asian Indoor Games, Vietnam (October 30); Asian Swimming
Championships (Gungzhou, November 22), SAF Games, Dhaka (January 29)

Possible medal count: Four

THE OTHER DISCIPLINES AT DELHI 2010: Cycling, Gymnastics, Lawn bowls, Netball, Rugby 7s —Anupama Bagri, Biswajyoti Brahma, Leslie Xavier, Biju Babu Cyriac, TA Ameerudheen, Ruhi Batra, Arghya Ganguly, Gaurav Kanthwal


TENNIS

Not a regular feature in Commonwealth Games, India lobbied hard to include tennis in the list for 2010. With the emergence of young stars like Sania Mirza, Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri to give company to old hands Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, the Indian tennis contingent holds the promise of more than one gold medal.

While the big stars keep themselves busy playing on the ATP and WTA Tour, it's the rest of the 40-player strong probables list that is put through the paces at training camps and ITF events held in India and abroad. The probables have been training under the watchful eyes of former Davis Cup players and now competent coaches, Jaideep Mukherjea, Nandan Bal, Enrico Piperno, Arun Kumar Singh and Nitin Kirtane. Doug McCurdy from the ITF, who is credited with revolutionising tennis in China, has been appointed as the foreign consultant for Indian tennis with a special focus on the 2010 Commonwealth Games. In addition, month-long training camps have been organised at the Nick Bolletieri Tennis Academy, the champions-producing tennis factory.

Possible medal count: Five gold medals are on offer at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and two medals, in the doubles and mixed doubles, are expected. Devvarman (below) is a strong contender for a medal while Sania Mirza can never be ruled out.

Source: http://epaper.timesofindia.com/