Wednesday, October 28, 2009

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.