Saturday, November 28, 2009

Delhi Metro to Carry 1 billion riders in 7yrs

Delhi Metro, which is fast becoming capital’s lifeline as its network expands, has ferried over one billion passengers, which is about the population of the entire country. The MRTS system is on expansion mode before the Commonwealth Games and new lines are going to be opened now every other month taking the Metro to south Delhi, east Delhi, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Airport.

‘‘With the massive expansion in the last seven years, the number of people who have availed Delhi Metro services till date touched a record 1,014,955,894 on Thursday,’’ said a DMRC spokesperson.

On November 24, Delhi Metro recorded its highest-ever ridership during the India International Trade Fair (IITF) when about 10.29 lakh commuters used the services on a single day. As ridership are far exceeding DMRC’s own projects — over 1 lakh commuters are using the Noida line on date as against the projection of about 53,000 commuters for 2012, the
problem of crowding in trains is becoming more and more acute.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) officials say that new trains are coming, and from now, a new train will be inducted into the system every fortnight. Already, DMRC has got about 17 train sets of four coaches each for broad gauge and another 10 trains for standard gauge. The total order is for 131 trains which will all be delivered before 2010 end.

Delhi Metro began its journey on December 25, 2002 on a small 8.5 km stretch between Shahdara and Tis Hazari. The initial daily ridership was just about 35,000 passengers. At present, the network is about 90 km long and this will increase further as more lines get commissioned for Phase II, which is nearing completion. The average daily ridership stands at about nine lakh passengers daily.

By the year end Delhi Metro to traverse Vikas Marg

By year-end, the Yamuna Bank-Anand Vihar line will become operational and will change the way residents of east Delhi colonies travel

East Delhi residents have a reason to cheer. With the Delhi Metro’s Noida line already operational, the corporation is gearing up to open the Yamuna Bank-Anand Vihar stretch by the year end. The construction of the 6.17 km long line which is expected to ferry over 1 lakh commuters daily, is complete but more trains need to come in before it can be opened for public.

The line passes through heavily built-up Vikas Marg, which is lined with residential colonies and institutional areas. The main road itself carries over 1.5 lakh vehicles daily and about 3.7 kms of the Metro line passes through these areas. For all these commuters, the opening of the new line will bring respite to scores of commuters who have been braving traffic snarls on Vikas Marg. DMRC has already removed all the barricades and work on resurfacing the main road and making new footpaths and central verge has begun. The main road is now wider than it was as nearly 3 metres has been added to its width now.

Engineers working on Vikas Marg told TOI that constructing the stretch has been a major challenge. ‘‘All the construction has taken place only between 11 pm and 6 am as Vikas Marg is a very busy stretch. Further, the mishap at Laxmi Nagar in which a launcher collapsed, also caused further delay,’’ said a DMRC spokesperson.

To tackle the heavy pedestrian movement, all the elevated Metro stations will double-up as foot-overbridges. Parking facilities are available at Karkardooma station and also Anand Vihar.

The station at Karkardooma is located off the road and is going to double up as a mall too. In fact, the station is the first Delhi Metro station to have green spaces inside. The facade is made of spider glazing and structural glazing to give it a corporate look and there is going to be landscaping inside the station premises for aesthetics.

DMRC has constructed two of the longest spans of Phase II of 70 m each over the Karkardooma flyover. The height of the platform, on the third floor, is about 19m — the highest platform in Delhi Metro. The station has 5 floors — basement, ground, first floor, concourse and platform.

The last stop at Anand Vihar will have a railway station and an ISBT in the same complex for better integration between the modes. The daily station load forecast for the Anand Vihar Metro station is almost 2.5 lakh for 2011.

The line branches out from Yamuna Depot station and crosses five stations to reach the one at Anand Vihar border, before the metro continues its journey into Ghaziabad.

The line in figures

Delhi Metro | Yamuna Bank to Anand Vihar

Length | 6.17 km No of stations | 5 Stoppages | Laxmi Nagar, Nirman Vihar, Preet Vihar, Karkardooma, Anand Vihar

No of on-road stations | 3 Ridership | 1.03L daily by 2012

Problem area | 3.2 km (ITO Chungi to Karkari more)

Traffic volume | 1,25,000

Passenger Car Units (12hr) Maxi Height | 19 m (over Karkari more flyover)

Date of completion | Dec 2009 Cost | Rs 210 cr

Parking | At Karkardooma & Anand Vihar stations

DTC starts running on new route

Yamuna Mudrika flagged off, 40 new low-floor buses in DTC fleet

In a bid to provide better connectivity to residents of east Delhi, Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) flagged off a new Yamuna Mudrika route to connect trans-Yamuna areas to the Inter-State Bus Terminal (ISBT) at Kashmere Gate from Friday.

The buses on this route will run via ISBT Kashmere Gate (Nityanand Marg), New Yamuna Bridge, Shastri Park Metro Depot, New Usman Pur, Pushta Road (Yamuna Marginal Bandh Marg), Khajoori Khas, Main Wazirabad Road, Yamuna Vihar, Nand Nagri Depot, Gagan Cinema Crossing Road No.68, Tahir Pur DLF Plaza Dilshad Garden Extn., Seemapuri Depot, Shahdara Border, Surya Nagar, Laxmi Nagar, Pusta Road, Ramesh Park, Krishan Kunj, Gandhi Nagar (Pusta), Kailash Nagar Pusta, Bulland Masjid, Old Bridge Road, Dharam Pura, Shastri Park, New Yamuna Bridge and ISBT Kashmere Gate.

Flagging off the service, transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said: ‘‘To start with, 16 low-floor buses are being deployed on the 36 km-long route where services will be available at a frequency of 15 minutes in both (+) and (- ) directions — clockwise and anti-clockwise. The new route provides connectivity to east Delhi, where one-third of Delhi’s population resides. In fact, several areas on the route are such where no buses were available until now.’’

Meanwhile, 40 new low-floor buses, part of the first lot manufactured by Ashok Leyland, has been inducted in DTCs fleet. The total number of DTC buses is now 3,717 buses — 860 low floor-buses (including 85 AC buses) — and another 2,857 old buses, and 83 diesel buses run on interstate routes. ‘‘To promote public transport, the government is going to strengthen the DTC increasing its fleet to 7,000 by October 2010 and the supplies for the order of 3,125 low floor buses has already started. About 300 new buses will be added to Delhi roads every month now,’’ he added.

July 2010 cut-off for flyover near Village

It’s A Key Project For Commonwealth Games

With less than a year to go for the Commonwealth Games, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) seems to be in a hurry to finish its projects. As part of the Games Village project, it is working overtime on the flyover set to come up in front of the Village. The flyover, said DDA sources, is scheduled to be complete in July 2010.

Incidentally, the flyover has been built for the Village’s entry/exit point to provide a clear passage for the athletes. However, the project had received a lot of flak as the flyover to be built on NH-21 from the bus bay on the main road near the Village to 200m from the foot of the flyover towards the river side of Yamuna was seen as avoidable. Experts had claimed that the flyover wasn’t needed for the volume of traffic that would be generated during the ‘‘short’’ duration of the Games and that better traffic management would solve the problem. However, the project was later cleared, as the need for a dedicated passageway was felt for smooth movement of athletes.

Approval from DUAC, meanwhile, is still awaited. Sources at the agency said that a site visit last month had generated suggestions for some changes, which are still to be filed. Admitted KT Ravindran, DUAC chief, ‘‘The approval is yet to be given, though Commonwealth Games projects are being cleared as early as possible.’’

The good news for commuters on NH-24 facing the detour around the Village is that the road will be cleared up soon. DDA sources claimed the flyover was expected to be completed by June-July 2010, along with the Village construction. Said a senior DDA official, ‘‘The flyover, which includes the bund road along the NH-24 from NOIDA More, is one of the two projects that were specifically started for the Games. We are also building the cloverleaf to NOIDA more flyover.’’ The project, which was originally costing over Rs 25 crore, however, doesn’t include a FOB, a demand that had been made at one point of the project. Added the official, ‘‘The flyover is expected to take the load from the Village, which otherwise would have spilled over to NH-24. Diversions would have had to be made for dedicated passage of the athletes to the various venues, which now will be done through the flyover.’’

Interestingly, the DDA is also in the process of building the noise barrier around the Village to cut down on the noise from the nearby railway track.


Flyover: On NH-24 from bus bay (near Village entrance) towards existing Noida More flyover to 200m from the foot of flyover towards Yamuna riverside Expected to be completed around the same time as the Village, in July 2010 A cycle track is also expected below on the carriageway It will provide a dedicated passageway for athletes during the Games

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Travel Industry Hopeful of 10% growth during 2010 Games

Today's one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai not only proves to be turning point for a city that remains defiant in the face of terror, but also for India's tourism.

The industry is hoping to achieve a 10 per cent growth next year after a $1.3 billion drop in tourism revenues in the second quarter of 2009, compared to the same period a year earlier.

"Travel from the Middle East to India recorded a meager five per cent growth at the end of this year's second quarter, compared to nearly double the growth for the same period in 2008," said Waseem Rahmany, Senior Manager, Sales and Marketing, Al Rais Travel.

"However, the end of Q3 saw summer travel provide a much-needed boost to the tourism industry, which bridged the gap between revenue generated in 2008 and 2009 for the period."

Kuoni Travel Group India CEO and Managing Director, Zubin Karkaria, reiterated the sentiment, saying: "In the first quarter of 2009, travel to India from the Middle East took a nose dive; however, nearly 80 per cent of that lost market share was regained by the end of Q3."

He said: "The outlook for travel from this region to India next year is quite positive, with leisure and corporate travel indicating an upswing of nearly 10 per cent growth."

In order to stimulate inbound traffic for 2010, Indian Tourism Minister Kumari Selja said last week at the World Travel Market that a number of initiatives and events have been put in place to reach this goal, including special packages for the World Commonwealth Games in Delhi, which is expected to attract up to 100,000 people in October next year.

"We are already in the initial stages of planning extended holidays into India for those travelers who are flying down to attend the Games," Shakir Kantawala, General Manager of Jet Airways, Dubai and Northern Emirates, told Emirates Business. "We are positive it will turn out to be a huge draw for tourists."

Karkaria said: "Our team has already started working on creating special packages for the Commonwealth Games, which will be rolled out to international travel agencies by January 2010."

As one of the largest tour operators in India, with a turnover of Rs22.29bn in 2008 alone, the company is also in the business of offering wholesale packages to international travel agencies around the world.

India's tourism woes began in Q3 last year, when the full impact of the global recession reared its ugly head. Adding to that was the terrorist attack on Mumbai's iconic hotels, Taj and Trident, along with Leopold Café - a popular hangout with foreign tourists.

Statistics revealed a sharp fall in foreign tourists in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, which persisted well into this year.

In the December following the tragic events, arrivals fell 12.5 per cent on the previous year - a heavy toll for hoteliers in the middle of the peak season for foreign tourists.

The latest available figures by the country's tourism board indicate that 2.4 million foreigners visited India in the January-September period - down 3.3 per cent on the same period in 2008. However, independent studies reveal a grimmer picture of nearly an eight per cent decline in tourism.

A recent report by global consultancy HVS Hospitality Services described the financial year 2008-09 as "an unforgettable one for the Indian tourism" with an overall decline in occupancy and revenue per available room (RevPAR).

"Mumbai reported the largest RevPAR decline of 20.1 per cent for 2008-09 amongst the major cities in India," stated the October report titled Hotels in India - Trends and Opportunities.

Revenue per room in Mumbai hotels fell to Rs6, 513 from Rs8, 155 a year earlier.

"This was due to the Mumbai terror attacks. The event raised concerns in the minds of international travelers regarding India's worthiness as a safe and secure travel destination," the report said.

Occupancy rates were at 60.9 per cent in 2008-2009, down 18.4 per cent on the previous year.

Nationally, tourism contributed 6.1 per cent to India's GDP - down 0.7 per cent on 2007-08.

"In the aftermath of the attacks in Mumbai, it was predictable that tourism in India took a beating and was in need of an image makeover," said Kantawala. "Our way to deal with the crisis was to partner with India Tourism Board and use the media to our advantage."

Through Jet Airways' Visit India initiative, the airline flew media down on familiarization trips to those very cities and hotels that had suffered from attacks of terrorism.

Kantawala said: "We flew media to Mumbai, put them up in the Taj and Trident hotels, and took others to Delhi and Jaipur to show everyone that India knows how to bounce back."

However, by the second quarter of 2009 the H1N1 pandemic had spread its tentacles into India, providing yet another setback for the tourism industry.

"The Swine flu scare was even more lethal than the attacks on Mumbai," said Al Rais' Rahmany. "Almost 30 to 40 per cent of our business comes through the summer travel. But this year's panic brought that percentage down by nearly 10 points."

Rahmany, however, believes the worst for India's tourism sector is finally behind us. "Christmas and New Year travel to India is regaining momentum, with flights to the metros almost booked out, along with airfares increasing with high demand," he said.

According to figures released by the Indian Tourism Board, tourist arrivals are expected to rise again, around December. However, 2009's Q4 forecast of 4.8 million tourists is still down from the 5.5 million recorded in 2008.

Next year's 10 per cent growth in tourism is inevitable, say industry sources, with the government even developing 150 rural sites to generate more revenue. "I am quite bullish on India next year and its increased presence at global travel and trade fairs are a step in the right direction," said Karkaria.

Guernsey takes up games baton

THE Queen’s Baton for the 2010 Commonwealth Games is in Guernsey.

Having so far been taken around the UK and Jersey, on Wednesday the baton will go to Gibraltar. By the time it arrives in India in June it will have been taken to 71 jurisdictions.

Its journey around India will end in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium ready for the start of the games on 3 October.

It was escorted into the island by a team of three.

‘We have enjoyed Jersey,’ said Delhi 2010 organization committee representative Avny Lavasa.
‘Now we are looking forward to seeing Guernsey.’

A member of the team will be with the baton at all times. It is transported in a padlocked case.
Miss Lavasa said it was not too hard to keep up with the baton.

‘There were a lot of running relays in Jersey, but it was still good fun,’ she said.

‘Nobody has dropped it so far. It is robust, but we hope no one will drop it.’

Guernsey Commonwealth Games Association representative Deputy Peter Sirett said there would be a lot going on over the next three days.

‘It’s visiting four primary schools and a few sporting events,’ he said.

‘It will also be on display. We want to try and give everyone the chance to see it.’

The baton will be taken to St Martin’s, Forest, Vauvert and Castel schools as well as Government House. It will be on display at Beau Sejour today from 3.45-4.30pm.

Sanam eyeing for gold in 2010 CW Games

Andhra Pradesh's Isiah Rajendra Sanam, who became the first Indian male archer to win an Asian Championships gold in Dhaka recently, said his next aim is to bring laurels for the country in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

"I am really happy about my performance; it gives me immense confidence ahead of the Commonwealth Games. I hope to continue my good show and win a gold in Delhi," said the 32-year-old after the triumphant Indian team arrived at the SAI Eastern Centre here, after winning six medals at the Asian Archery Championships in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday.

Sanam, who clinched two gold in the compound team and individual sections in Bali, said he had a tough final against fourth-ranked Indonesian Nyoman Puruhito.

"We were going neck-and-neck and the conditions (in Bali) were extremely difficult with winds changing directions rapidly. In the last end of three arrows, I shot two bull's eyes and one nine points to settle the issue," said the 15th ranked compound archer about his 106-103 upset win over Puruhito.

Archery Association of India President Vijay Kumar Malhotra congratulated the Indian contingent on their impressive show in Indonesia.

India had won two gold, two silver and as many bronze medals.

The men's compound team of Sanam, Chinna Raju Srither, and Kh Ratan Singh won gold. Sanam then made a double winning the compound individual title at the tournament that concluded on Sunday.

The recurve men's team of Mangal Singh Champia, Jayanta Talukdar and Rahul Banerjee won silver, while the women trio of Jhanu Hansdah, Namita Yadav and Manjudha Soy finished second in compound team event.

Olympian Talukdar and Manjudha bagged bronze in individual recurve and compound categories respectively.

CWG opening, closing ceremonies will be a big event will cost around Rs. 84 Crores

India will spend Rs 84 crore in conducting the grand opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Sports Ministry said today.

Replying to a question at the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Sports Pratik Prakashbapu Patil said the theme and concept of the opening ceremony has been finalized while the same process is on for the closing ceremony.

"Rs 84 crore approximately has been earmarked for the two ceremonies in the budget of the Organizing Committee CWG Delhi 2010," Patil told the Lok Sabha.

"The concept and theme for the opening ceremony has been finalized. The theme and concept for the closing ceremony is in an advanced stage of finalization. The operational details are being developed by the Organizing Committee," he added.

Gill reiterates to organize successful CW Games

Even as sports minister M S Gill on Wednesday insisted that the Commonwealth Games in Delhi next year would be a success, he stated that India, which he described as a poor country, should not be making any bid to host Olympics in the near future.

Responding to a calling attention motion in Rajya Sabha, Gill said India staging Commonwealth Games successfully would not in any way imply that it was in a position to host Olympics in 2020.

Gill's `reality check' has come as a dampener for those advocating India's case for the 2020 Olympics. "I don't think India should be thinking about Olympics. Look at the poverty of this country and its urban problems,'' he said.

"There is a certain class of us who want these great events because it's good entertainment. China spent Rs 50 billion on its Olympic Games. Think if you are in a position to spend like that,'' he added.

Gill made the remarks in response to Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan's assertion that India could host Olympics if it managed to stage Commonwealth Games successfully. Coming down heavily on the "lack of preparedness'', she said India could end up making a mockery of itself.”It's too obvious we are here to laugh at ourselves and make a mockery of the whole show. By now, we should have started our practice drills. But with a government of assessments, reports and then action I think we are in big trouble," she said.

"I really feel sorry for the (sports) minister because you have the baby on your lap but no nurse,'' she added.

Gill, however, assured that everything was in order. "The stadia will be completed in time. The government is investing substantial amount of money for the upgradation of various stadia to be used for the Games,'' he said.

"These stadia will become state-of-the-art venues of international standards. The government of India and the organizing committee are fully committed to completing all preparations for the Games in good time,'' he added.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Now Waste Plastic to Strengthen Roads

Government of Delhi started its initiative for a cleaner environment banning plastic bags some time before, now in a new move the waste plastic will be used to build roads in Delhi and NCR. Read on...

To ensure a smooth ride during the Commonwealth Games, Public Works Department (PWD) is going to use waste plastic technology to resurface a total of 242-km road length in the city at a cost of around Rs 250 crore. The new technology will ensure longevity of the roads.

Minister, PWD, Rajkumar Chauhan on Friday inaugurated the resurfacing work of roads in south Delhi. He said: "Special attention is being paid to roads leading to Games venues. All Delhi roads will be built using international technology.'' The waste plastic technology involves mixing waste plastic and bitumen. This ensures greater longevity and flexibility of roads.

Work on strengthening the roads using waste plastic and micro-surfacing technology has begun on 71-km road length under PWD in south Delhi and 32-km of roads in east Delhi. The technology has already been used to resurface around 60km of the roads in Delhi. This technology will help take care of plastic waste in the city.

Resurfacing of key roads in south Delhi using waste plastic technology will cost around Rs 33.22 crore. These roads include Airport area, Rama Road, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, IGP Slip Road, Bhairon Marg, Okhla Estate Marg no-13, Bhakti Vedanta Marg, Anuvrat Marg, etc. According to PWD officials, the resurfacing of roads will be completed by June 2010.

"Plastic technology is eco-friendly and consumes less material. The thickness is raised by only 10-15mm and such roads would last up to seven years,'' added Chauhan.

Said PWD secretary K K Sharma: "The bitumen melts at higher temperatures during summer and when mixed with plastic it adds to the flexibility and durability of roads.''

Besides waste plastic technology, PWD is also using in-situ technology to resurface roads and a 100 crore project has already been approved by the government. Under in-situ technology, raw material on the surface of the road is removed, heated and after adding some amount of new material it is used again for re-laying of road. This helps in maintaining the level of the road and is eco-friendly as well.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yamuna Expressway to be completed before Games

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh inaugurated Metro services in Delhi few days before. Now the senior official is eyeing the revenue which the commonwealth games can generate for UP, so they want to finish other projects as well before games.

Intending to make Yamuna Expressway a growth engine for all future development of the state, the Uttar Pradesh government has issued directives that the expressway be completed and open to traffic before the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Sticking to the time schedules, the concessionaire of the project Jaypee Infratech is working at neck breaking speed, having completed almost 80% of the earthwork and starting off with concreting from Noida end.

Speaking to FE on condition of anonymity, an official of the state government said lot of prestige is associated with the project as it will be the first infrastructure development project that would finally see the light of the day during the two-and-a half year reign of chief minister Mayawati. In a way it would be the yardstick by other developers for investing in the state.

The chief minister has many more ambitious plans for the state, all of which would either revolve around Yamuna Expressway or would be fostered by it. With land for the entire 165-km expressway already available with the developer, a massive workforce of around 10,000 people has been pumped in to work round the clock to complete the mega project. The total cost of the project is pegged at Rs 10000 crore.

The expressway, which will cross the five districts of Gautambudh Nagar, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar (Hathras), Mathura and Agra, will have six interchanges from point zero at Noida. Apart from these interchanges, other structures like car tracks, pedestrian pathways, canals, bridges and underpasses are also being constructed simultaneously.

A senior official of the Yamuna Expressway Authority said a total of six toll plazas are being proposed. While there would be two each at Gautambudh Nagar and Mathura, Aligarh and Agra would have one toll plaza each.

The project, which is being constructed on build operate transfer PPP basis, will be maintained and operated by the concessionaire during the entire concession period of 36 years and after expiry of the concession period, it shall be handed over to the authority. An official of the company stated that the toll amount is being worked upon and no final shape has been given to it yet.

Government Seeking Private Players for tourist bus services

The Delhi government is looking to rope in a private player to fund its hop-on-hop-off bus services for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

According to Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta, bids for the bus service will be announced by the Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (DTTDC). “The initiative will be in partnership with Delhi Tourism, but the basic funding will be provided by the private player, who will supply the buses and bear the costs,” Mehta said.

Though the government had originally planned running double-decker buses along the lines of the services provided in London and Paris, Mehta said that with the Games deadline closing in, the government plans to run only ordinary buses for now. “Buses in line with specifications meant for Delhi will have to be planned, so we will begin with ordinary buses and take it from there,” Mehta said.

To be initiated on the lines of tourist bus services in London and Paris, the hop-on-hop-off service has buses running along pre-defined routes that connect the city’s heritage sites, museums and cultural spots. Tourists will have to buy a consolidated ticket and will have the option of boarding a bus at any of the tourist spots along the route and get off at their convenience.

DDA Cancelled Contract for not meeting Deadline

With six months left to the deadline, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) seems to have decided to become a strict paymaster. It has terminated the contract of the consortium building the practice areas in the Commonwealth Games Village, a first for the land agency in a Games-related project. The reason: failure to meet expectations and norms as per the agreement. Now, DDA plans to implement the project itself.

Admitted Neemo Dhar, spokesperson for the DDA, "We rescinded the contract as the terms of the agreement were not being met. The DDA will now implement the project through sub-contractors.'' The decision comes barely months before the deadline June 2010. The internal deadline for the agency's contractors is, incidentally, March 2010. The consortium Sportina Payce Infrastructure Pvt Ltd was to build the practice venues within the Commonwealth Games Village, including the swimming, wrestling and athletic tracks as well as the field area for hammer throw and other facilities. With the termination however, DDA will have to step into the breach, admitted officials.

Sources in the land agency claimed that one of the primary reasons for the termination was the consortium’s inability to provide adequate labor, resulting in unmet deadlines. A senior DDA official said, "The contractor had been engaged last year but deadlines were not being met consistently. Despite repeated warnings, there was no improvement, so the contract had to be terminated.'' Despite repeated attempts, officials from Sportina Payce were not available for comments.

Said a senior official, "We expect the work to continue without a hitch as the sub-contractors will remain the same, only they will be working for us directly now.'' Officials said that work on the venues had already started under the agency in order to meet the March deadline. "It is a tough task, especially as a large part of the work still needs to be done. With DDA directly handling the project, it is expected that the project will get back on track, though the internal March deadline may not be a possibility,'' added the official.

Its not the first time that work at the Village has come to a grinding halt due to differences with the contractor. Earlier this year, lack of funds had prompted Emaar MGF, the consortium in-charge of the Village construction, to stop work at the site. While DDA had eventually rescued the consortium at that time with a financial bailout, the interruption had resulted in delay of the project. This time, DDA is hoping that the termination of the contractor will not have an impact, despite the fact that only four months are left to the internal deadline.

2010 CWG going to prove a Very Tough Examination for Delhi

A year from now, the eyes of the sporting world will be on India, as the country's capital prepares to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games Oct. 3-14.

With the one-year countdown officially on, there are serious concerns that Delhi won't be able to pull it off.

"Two years before the Games, I had told the organizing committee that time was not your friend," Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell told reporters after an October meeting of representatives in Delhi. "And now, one year before it, I say, time is your enemy."

India has never hosted an event of this magnitude.

The 1982 Asian Games were held in Delhi, but that event was much smaller than the Commonwealth Games, which will feature athletes from 71 countries of the former British Empire competing in 17 different summer sports.

Delhi organizers must act quickly to hire experienced foreign consultants in logistics, infrastructure and ticketing, Fennell said.

With so much national pride invested in the event, the call for more outside help is a tough pill to swallow for organizers.

"A lot of in-house expertise has grown in India that is best in the world," Delhi organizing committee spokesman Uday Sahay said.

Organizers are prepared to hire additional foreign consultants, Sahay acknowledged, but in most areas, India feels it is capable of providing its own expertise.

Construction delays causing concern

As workers put in the final panes of glass and size up the solar panels at Delhi's shiny new netball stadium, engineer Umesh Bhansal beams with pride.

"We feel proud," he said. "But we are also under tremendous pressure to complete all the venues by December."

Bhansal's tasks seem to be going according to schedule, but it's a different story at many other venues.

Weeks before it's due for a final inspection, the national field hockey stadium is far from ready.
The playing surface is a messy mix of grey and maroon, full of mud and gravel. The bleachers are still missing — no seats for spectators, just row upon row of stone steps.

With so much work still to be completed, and so little time left before the test events in early 2010, this place should be a hum of activity, with the beeping of backhoes and grinding of hydraulic tools. But on the autumn day that I visited, it was virtually silent, except for the persistent sound of raindrops that had turned the site into a mud pit.

As the laborers lounged under the bleachers, small half-naked children provided the only action, playing around the scaffolding.

The cranes stood idle.

A report in July indicated that 14 of the 19 venues were at risk of not being finished in time for the fall construction deadline.

But according to organizers, only two venues, cycling and rugby, are running behind their construction schedule, and even those are still expected to be completed by the spring, months before the Commonwealth Games begin.

"The [federation] added a lot of other parameters to the existing ones," Sahay said in an attempt to justify the delays.

"In cycling, they said it had to have a wooden track, but we had already made a concrete track. To make the adjustments, it takes time. And, that was perceived by media that things [were falling behind deadlines]."

Gridlock a security concern

The roads leading up to the stadiums aren't in great shape either.

Many concrete overpasses and bridges remain in a constant state of construction, acting as pylons and obstacles for vehicles trying to navigate Delhi's labyrinth of streets.

The perpetual gridlock has officials worried, especially since some reports have indicated that the roadwork might not be completed in time for the Games.

The incomplete venues and transportation headaches stand in the way of security officials, as they desperately try to construct detailed safety and evacuation plans.

"We're confident that they're going to get it done," Sgt. Mark Bolduc of the RCMP said after a meeting of Commonwealth security officials in September.

It's a huge concern for Indian officials, especially after England pulled its badminton team from the world championships in Hyderabad in August because of security worries.

Message control

Keen to steer the attention to other areas and combat the negative press, organizers are trying to regain control of the message.

"There are more to the Commonwealth Games than just security and infrastructure," Sahay quips. "We have the whole green Games issue, cultural programs and housing projects."

Indeed, these Commonwealth Games could be among the greenest, with energy-efficient stadiums using less electricity than those at past events. Cultural programs and celebrations will likely be spectacular in a country renowned for its colorful festivals.

But the practicalities of venues and roads are still first and foremost on the minds of top federation officials.

Too soon to panic

Canadian officials aren't panicking, but they are concerned.

"I think all of us find it intriguing," said Andrew Pipe, president of the Commonwealth Games Association of Canada.

"India has been such a dynamic commercial powerhouse that has got such great corporate citizens like Tata and Unisys, but it is having some of these problems.

"I think president Fennel's comments are designed to catalyze or galvanize activity on the part of the Indian government, the Indian hosts and the Indian community in Delhi so that those concerns prove to be ill founded."

At least a few of the engineers supervising the construction in Delhi are feeling the heat.

The criticism in the media and from senior federation officials are speeding up the work, Bhansal says. But there's no need to panic, according to Pipe. The fall deadlines for venue construction had a built-in buffer zone, and the Games aren't until next October.

Delhi organizers remain confident despite the criticism from Indian media outlets and federation officials.

But they are searching for ways to silence those critics — accepting more foreign help and embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign — to ensure the country's dream doesn't turn into a public relations nightmare.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chief Minister’s Review: Work Overtime to Meet Deadlines

Chief Minister of national capital of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit on Friday reviewed the progress of several Commonwealth Games (CWG) related projects and stated that her government would “have to work overtime to meet deadlines”.

The meeting was to review the progress of various projects of the Public Works Department (PWD) - Barapula elevated road, Ring Road bypass, Ghazipur grade separator and Uttar Pradesh link road - that are related to the Games, scheduled less than a year away.

“There is hardly any time left, we all will have to work overtime to honor deadlines. It will be in the fitness of things if these projects are completed by March-2010,” Dikshit stated.

The chief minister underlined the importance of quality construction. PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan, senior government officials and representatives of various constructions companies were present at the meeting.

“It was decided that hindrances, if any will be resolved at the highest level. The contractors have been told to submit a detailed schedule of key indicators. Further they have been asked to submit daily progress reports,” said an official statement.

“The concerned departments are also being requested to issue necessary clearances on the same day the request is received in their offices,” the statement added.

The Barapula elevated road will connect Sarai Kale Khan to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and provide an uninterrupted route up to main venues of the Games.

Unified Patrolling and PCR for Ghaziabad and NOIDA before 2010 Games

The UP Police declared on Thursday a slew of measures in order to improve the traffic and law & order situation in the twin districts of Gautambudha Nagar (GB Nagar, NOIDA) and Ghaziabad.

These new measures, expected to be put in place by March 2010, have been proposed keeping in mind the upcoming Commonwealth Games in the city. Announcing the measures, UP’s top cop, Director General of Police Karamvir Singh, said this was an effort to move towards greater coordination between the satellite cities.

According to DGP Singh, efforts are on to create a single virtual Police Control Room (PCR) for the police forces of NOIDA, Greater NOIDA and Ghaziabad. ‘‘Among the biggest challenges during the Games will be to ensure that the traffic movement remains smooth. This can be done when real-time basis sharing of data can be done across NCR,’’ said DGP Singh.

According to Akhil Kumar, SSP (Ghaziabad), the entire police force will be modernized and brought at par with the Delhi police. ‘‘The DGP told us to work for the modernization of the PCR. This will include procuring GPS based patrol vehicles, a digital mapping system for the twin districts, satellite imaging for proper city surveillance and a fully computerized data-filing system that can help share data in real time,’’ said SSP Kumar.

While the entire process is expected to be completed by the beginning of the CWG, the state government has agreed to fund a portion of the modernization process. ‘‘The UP police is presently preparing a roadmap for this. We will soon send the proposal to the Home ministry. Central government officials have made it clear that funds will not be an issue as the CWG involves the prestige of the country,’’ said a senior official from Lucknow who had accompanied Mayawati to NOIDA on Thursday.

Among other modernization programme is the induction of 35,000 cops in the UP police force by March next year. ‘‘In all, we have 1.75 lakh cops in the state. In the long run, we expect to induct another 2 lakh more by the end of 2012,’’ said DGP Singh.

SSP Kumar added that some new recruitment will be made for the Ghaziabad PCR. ‘‘The Ghaziabad PCR will be provided with 30 new patrolling vehicles in which GPS will be fitted. Another 300 constables will be deputed to the PCR and its vehicles and 150 traffic constables will be deployed on the city routes,’’ said Kumar.

Vigil Up For 2010
  1. PCRs in Ghaziabad and Gautambudha Nagar will share data in real time
  2. CCTV cameras will be put up at all important intersections in both cities
  3. A digital map will be created for Ghaziabad and NOIDA to bolster emergency response
  4. The police in western UP will get 35,000 more personnel by March.
  5. Total number of policemen in UP to be increased from 1.75 lakh to 3.75 lakh by 2012
  6. 30 new patrol vehicles, 300 constables & 150 traffic cops to be deployed in Ghaziabad & NOIDA, specifically for the Commonwealth Games

Low Floor DTC Buses Fleet to Hit NOIDA roads soon

After the Metro link between NOIDA and Delhi opened on Thursday, there is some more joy in store for residents of the satellite town. Delhi Transport Corporation has decided to run 35 low-floor buses between Delhi and NOIDA from next week. Sources said the buses have already been procured and will be pressed into service once they are registered with local RTO.

Sources at NOIDA’s DTC depot said that in the first phase, 35 buses will be run daily.

‘‘We expect to take this number to 40 in the next few weeks. We wish to take the total number of low-floor buses operating in NOIDA to 100. Out of these, at least 30 buses will be air-conditioned,’’ said a senior DTC official.

Residents in NOIDA welcomed the DTC move. ‘‘The Metro might be here, but vast sections of NOIDA, including sectors 12, 22, 62, 63 and Nithari — are not covered by it. DTC buses will help people in these areas. With low-floor buses, I now hope to avoid rides on the rickety Bluelines,’’ said Sanjeev Sharma, a PR executive residing in sector 22.

Sanjay Bohidar, a media professional residing in sector 56, said he was expecting more frequent services on dedicated routes. ‘‘The service from NOIDA to Dhaula Kuan and Airport is very erratic.

There are a lot of passengers on these routes, especially during the office hours. I will request the DTC to run more buses on these routes,’’ he said. At present, the DTC has 20 buses at its NOIDA depot. The UPSRTC runs 35 buses on various Delhi routes.

UP road transport department officials said once low-floor buses are introduced in NOIDA, the department might have to revise fares. ‘‘With DMRC and DTC focusing on NOIDA routes, we will loss passengers unless we go for another round of revisions,’’ said a senior UPSRTC official.

One New Metro Line Scheduled to open every month till 2010 CWG

The opening of the NOIDA line marks the beginning of Phase II of Metro getting operational. Now, a new Metro line will open almost every month till the 2010 Games.

The next section to open for public will be the 6.17-km Yamuna Bank to Anand Vihar line, which has a deadline for next month. After its commissioning, alternate trains from Yamuna Bank will go to NOIDA and Anand Vihar respectively. Like the NOIDA line, this is also an elevated line which runs along Vikas Marg and ends at the Delhi-UP border at Anand Vihar. The line will be further extended by 2.6km to Vaishali in Ghaziabad by September 2010.

The elevated portion of the Gurgaon line will open next in January 2010. A Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) spokesperson explained that only the stretch between Qutab Minar and Gurgaon (14.4 km) will open first as its construction will take less time as compared to the rest of the line , Central Secretariat to Qutab Minar, which is underground. ‘‘It was felt that by opening the Qutab Minar to Gurgaon stretch, residents of the sub-city will be able to come to the Capital and will also get a mode of commuting within Gurgaon where connectivity is very poor,’’ said a spokesperson. The remaining part of the line, spanning 12.53 km, will open in June 2010.

After these, the 15.15km-long Inderlok to Mundka stretch and Kirti Nagar to Ashok Park stretch, both of which will connect to the existing Line 3, will open in March.

In June 2010, the 4.91km stretch on the Badarpur line from Sarita Vihar to Badarpur will be commissioned. The rest of the Badarpur line (15.25 km) connecting Sarita Vihar to Central Secretariat will open in September 2010.

The Airport Express Link, which is the only Delhi Metro line to be built on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, will open in two parts, the 19.2 km stretch from New Delhi Railway Station to IGI Airport in August 2010 and then a 3.5km extension till Dwarka sector 21 in September 2010.

The existing Line 3 will also be extended till Dwarka Sector 21 (by 2.76km) to integrate the normal Metro with the fast track line.

Trained Guards from Punjab to aid Security during 2010 Games

Trained guards from Punjab will help private security agencies to secure the venues of the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) to be held in New Delhi October next year.

With the CWG less than one year away, 33 managing directors and security experts from national and international security agencies Friday came to the Punjab Security Training Institute (PSTI) of Punjab police at Jahankhelan, 150 km from Chandigarh, to witness the passing out parade of a new batch of trained personnel here.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who took salute from the 312 new passing out recruits here Friday, said that a new batch of trained female security guards would also be started soon.

Badal said that with security agencies facing shortage of quality trained security guards, the Jahankhelan institute is the only one in the country providing training to the security guards at par with Punjab police commandos.

“Each passing out candidate here is carrying a minimum four offer letters from security agencies,” he added.

“In the post 26/11 scenario, the importance of employing skilled and weapon-trained security guards has been understood by every employer. With state police having limited resources, unable to handle the security of every building, the security agencies’ task to scout for trained security guards becoming increasingly tiring,” Badal noted.

The Punjab government had recently announced that it will train nearly 100,000 youth in security operations to fulfill the growing demand for workforce from the private security sector - both in India and other countries.

The PSTI, set up with an investment of just Rs.10 crore and managed by Punjab police officials, will raise its training capacity from 10,000 in 2010 to 15,000 in 2011.

Badal said that over 500,000 trained security personnel were required by agencies in India and a similar number in other countries.

Stressing the need for focusing on training our youths as security guards for other countries, he said that the youth would be made proficient in English, Arabic, Spanish and French besides providing them security training to make them employable in other countries.

The new recruits gave a practical demonstration of access control, frisking, anti-sabotage checking, cordoning off and sealing, evacuation, surveillance, chasing, over-powering and immobilization of criminals and suspects, identification of IEDs, explosive and narcotic material, body search, premises and area search, defensive driving, first aid and other tasks.

Delhi Metro NOIDA phase Started, will help to ease commuting in NCR

On Friday morning, when Delhi Metro’s first train will chug out of NOIDA at 6am, it won’t only bridge the distance between the capital and its glitzy satellite township but also reinforce the idea of seamless travel in the national capital region (NCR).

In 36 minutes, commuters from the last stop in NOIDA will land right in the heart of the Capital at CP in AC coaches. Those living in east Delhi areas like Mayur Vihar and Indraprastha(IP) Extension can also bid goodbye to unending traffic jams and long waits for buses.

The NOIDA line, an extension of the existing Line 3 (Yamuna Bank to Dwarka), was flagged off by Union Urban Development minister Jaipal Reddy and Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit from Akshardham Metro station on Thursday. It will be opened for public from Friday. ‘‘The project is one of the biggest achievements of the country in recent years,’’ said Reddy.

Dikshit said: ‘‘This is the first time that Delhi’s Metro is stepping out of the confines of the city. By afternoon, the Uttar Pradesh CM will receive the train at NOIDA City Centre.’’

About 7km of the 12.8km-long elevated line lies in NOIDA. The extension has 10 stations, with four in Delhi and six in NOIDA from where nearly 53,000 people are expected to board the Metro by 2011.

With this, the Delhi Metro network now spans across 90 km and covers 78 stations. The trains on the new line will run at a frequency of 11.5 minutes during the peak hour and 15 minutes during the off-peak hours in NOIDA section. To control the frequency, every train starting from NOIDA will go to Dwarka. But every third train starting from Dwarka will go all the way to NOIDA. The rest of the trains will turn back from Yamuna Bank.

According to the new timetable, 36 trains will run on the line and two trains have been kept on standby at the Dwarka and Yamuna Bank depots. ‘‘The timetable will be tested for 1-2 days before it is finalized. As more trains become available, every alternate train from Yamuna Bank will continue to NOIDA,’’ said a DMRC spokesperson.

Commuters will be able to park their vehicles at all Delhi stations, Yamuna Bank, Akshardham Temple, Mayur Vihar I, Mayur Vihar Extension, New Ashok Nagar and three stations in NOIDA Sector 15,

Botanical Garden and City Centre. The two Mayur Vihar stations will also be connected by an already existing feeder bus route that starts from Shastri Park Metro station till Vasundhara Enclave via Geeta Colony Road, Akshardham Temple, NOIDA Link Road, Mayur Vihar Phase-1, Mayur Vihar Phase-1 Extension, Chilla Sarda Bangar and Dharamshila Cancer Hospital, Vasundhara Enclave.

This is the first Delhi Metro line which has missed its deadline, but DMRC managing director E Sreedharan assured that the line is safe. ‘‘About 11 piers on the line were strengthened as a precaution after cracks were noticed,’’ he said.

To take the Metro to NOIDA, the Metro Railway Amendment Act, 2009, was enacted to amend the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978 and the Delhi Metro (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002 and their application has now been extended to the NCR.

The plan is to extend the Metro to all cities with a population of over 2 million. The matter was discussed at a meeting of NCR planning board on Wednesday. ‘‘The Metro will be allowed to go as far as possible out of Delhi, as long as the routes are commercially viable and the State governments take initiative. At the NCRPB meeting, it was discussed that there is demand for Metro from areas like Ferozabad and Ghaziabad,’’ Reddy added.

Spreading its fleet:

Delhi Metro’s NOIDA Extension (Yamuna Bank-NOIDA Sector 32 City Center)

Length 12.8 km

No of stations 10

Date of start of construction Oct 2006

Expected ridership (2011) 53,000 daily

Cost Rs 630 cr (approx for civil works)

Parking available at Akshardham station (Delhi) and three stations in NOIDA

2010 Commonwealth Games baton visits Mold

A SYMBOL of nations united – the Commonwealth Games baton – came to Flintshire this week amidst a pageant of celebrations.

The Queen’s Baton for 2010 Delhi games was driven across the Welsh border at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on Sunday in a minibus as part of a relay which takes it to 71 countries.

On Monday it was taken to the Alun School Mold before being taken in a relay to Bryn Coch primary school via Alexander Road and Victoria Road.

The procession was led by three of Flintshire’s finest athletes – heavyweight boxer Andrew Jones, from Mynydd Isa; pole vault star Christina Hughes, from Rhosesmor and paralympic shot putter Andrew Williams, from Mold.

And they were accompanied by eight children, two pupils each from Bryn Coch, Ysgol Glanrafon, Bryn Gwalia and St David’s schools.

The Queen’s Baton Relay is the traditional curtain raiser to the Commonwealth Games and has been part of the programme since the Cardiff 1958 games.

This year it started in London and will cover more than 190,000 kilometres in 340 days.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Delhi College Hostels to fulfill the accommodation crisis

Delhi Lt. Governor advises colleges to minimize activity during games

India may house thousands of athletes, officials and tourists participating in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in university hostel rooms normally meant for students because of a desperate accommodation crunch in its capital.

A sports ministry-appointed panel has identified 3,250 “suitable” hostel rooms across Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia and the Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology (NSIT) for the accommodation, top government officials told.

The identified hostels and campuses will now be upgraded or renovated to meet accommodation standards that will be available at the official Games Village, the government has decided based on the panel’s report, sources said.

Games organizers are likely to allocate a room to each participant athlete, official or tourist but officials are not ruling out the need to ask some to double up in the rooms.

The Games Village, under construction along the banks of the Yamuna, is expected to have a capacity of 8,500 athletes and officials. But the organizers fear they may need more accommodation.

The tourism ministry has indicated concerns over a potential shortage of rooms for tourists.
“This is a desperate move. But it will help the institutes and the hostels, so it is a win-win situation,” a government official said.

The sports ministry has asked the human resource development ministry to co-ordinate with the institutions which are likely to stall most academic activity during the Games, HRD sources said.

Delhi lieutenant-governor Tejinder Khanna has also asked the HRD ministry to specifically shut down DU during the Games, scheduled between October 3 and October 14 next year, government sources said.

Khanna, in his letter, has, however, sought the closure of DU arguing that it will help reduce traffic on the capital’s roads during the Games.

DU’s grounds are also a venue for the Rugby7s, a seven-a-side avatar of rugby at the Games. Rugby players are likely to be housed in the DU hostels.

Of the 3,250 rooms identified by the panel, around 2,100 are in boys’ hostels — with other facilities such as toilets for men. The remaining rooms are in girls’ hostels, the sources said.
A majority of the rooms selected around 2,000 are in DU while the rest are in Jamia and NSIT, an autonomous institute of the Delhi government.

The sports ministry panel has argued that the government will need Rs. 6.5 crore for the renovation and upgradation of identified rooms, hostels and campuses — at the rate of around Rs 20,000 per room.

Senior DU and Jamia officials said the universities might need to shut down or minimize academic activity during the Games.

“But the hostels and so the university will benefit in the long run because of the upgrading and renovation,” a DU administrator said.

Storm Alert Capability Radar to be installed in the City next month

The first Doppler radar of the capital is due to be installed next month; a move that may ease weather worries of Delhites, especially during the Commonwealth Games next year. ‘‘The Doppler radar will be installed at Palam in December while another is expected to be placed at Mausam Bhavan around next July. Everything is going on as per the plans,’’ said Ajit Tyagi, director general, IMD.

‘The hi-tech radar is being procured from a Chinese joint venture with US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin at a cost of about Rs 12 crore,’’ said Tyagi. The Doppler radar will provide data to estimate accurately the centre and intensity of a storm, fixing its position and predicting its path unlike the existing systems that provide information only on the range of a storm. Another Doppler weather radar (DWR) is proposed to be installed at Jaipur to keep tabs on the weather approaching from the west. Patiala, Gwalior and Lucknow will have DWR’s to help the weather office provide comprehensive forecast, added Tyagi.

Meanwhile, the top post for the chief of security for the CWG is lying vacant for over a year owing to a legal tussle between the Union government and the Central Administrative Tribunal.

Two officials R P Sharma and Ajay Chadha are said to be in the reckoning for the post. The CWG Organizing Committee (OC) had last year sent a proposal to the ministry of home affairs recommending Sharma’s name for the job. Based on the recommendations of both the OC and Karnataka government, Sharma also attended CWG security related meetings here when the proposal was awaiting clearance by the MHA. However, Sharma’s name was not cleared after ‘‘careful consideration’’ of the matter by the ministry of youth affairs and sports.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Another opportunity to serve in 2010 Commonwealth Games

I receive several emails daily from students and other persons regarding participation in 2010 commonwealth games. Here is good news for all of you, who missed the previous opportunity, now you can apply again and add your two cents.

Eligibility: Students pursuing graduation or post graduation

Age Limit: between 18 and 25 years

Selection: Through a written test to be held in New Delhi

Application form: can be downloaded from

Application fee: Rs 100 in the form of demand draft in favor of "Director IITTM" payable at New Delhi

Last Date : 27 Nov 2009

Delhi Lagging Behind but Haryana ready with 50% rooms for Games

There is an ear soothing news for Delhi government and the organizing committee of 2010 commonwealth games, which is worried about the accommodation for the millions of tourists who are likely to visit New Delhi next year.

Tourism secretary of India Sujit Banerji on Thursday claimed over 50% of 8793 rooms that Haryana promised for the Commonwealth Games were ready. He announced this while inaugurating a hotel in Sector 29.

Banerjee said a task force under his chairmanship has been reviewing the progress regarding creation of hotel accommodation in the area around Delhi. ‘‘Haryana is providing a major chunk of hotel accommodation for the Commonwealth Games and the efforts being made by the Haryana government in this direction have been commended by the central government,’’ Banerjee said.

Banerjee said as per latest position in Haryana, 6632 rooms were in the definite category and 2161 rooms were in the likely and doubtful category. ‘‘While 3814 rooms are already functional, 410 rooms are likely to be made functional shortly. For the remaining rooms, the progress is being closely monitored so that they are also completed at the earliest,’’ he added.

Haryana officials said the state government has allotted 101 sites for construction of these rooms.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Before November end 3 more flyovers in Delhi

There are many cities in India which have metaphoric name like pink city, Jaipur. On the same pattern it would be better to call Delhi as the “city of flyovers”, because you can get a flyover on every kilometer in Delhi. Now to make symbolism more strong, city is going to add 3 more flyovers on its roads.

Adding to the city infrastructure ahead of next year's Commonwealth Games here, Delhi Government is set to complete three more flyovers by the end of this month in areas located nearer to the venues of the mega sporting event.

Officials said the flyover at the R R Kohli Marg will be ready for inauguration very soon while the flyovers at Shastri Park and Geeta Colony will be dedicated to the public by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on November 15.

They said the flyover being built at Nelson Mandela Marg would be inaugurated on December 10.

Facing criticism for its tardy preparations for the sporting event, the city Government is now racing against time to complete all the projects linked to it soon and the Chief Minister is now personally monitoring their progress.

Geitz eyes off in Australian Team for 2010 Commonwealth Games

After a three-month break due to a broken hand, Allora netballer Laura Geitz is ready to resume training in quest of a spot in the Australian team for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

This week, Geitz and former Warwick West State School student Clare McMeniman were named in a new-look Queensland Firebirds side for the 2010 ANZ Championship.

Geitz broke her hand at an Australian Diamonds team camp in August at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and was forced to miss the international campaign this year.

“It was disappointing to miss out but the injury did give me a bit of a break before two busy years of netball,” Geitz said.

With up to three defenders, including Geitz, out with injury during the Diamonds campaign in 2009, some young defenders were given an opportunity in the top team.

“Norma (Coach Norma Plummer) is likely to give everyone (in the squad) a go in the first half of next year before finalising a team for the Commonwealth Games,” Geitz said.

“It will be really tough to make the team for the Commonwealth Games and I will need a top performance in the ANZ Championships.”

Geitz has predominately played as a goal keeper in her career but hopes to play a little more at goal defender next season because versatility could boost her national selection chances.

While a lot of the Diamonds’ focus in 2010 will be the Commonwealth Games, Geitz also has an eye towards 2011 when the world championships will be played in Singapore.

The Allora player said her doctor was happy with her recovery from the broken hand and she had the all-clear to start training with the Firebirds at the end of the month.

Geitz and McMeniman played under new Firebirds coach Rosalee Jencke in winning bronze at the Junior World Cup in Florida.

Jencke is now assistant coach of the Diamonds.

“She is a specialist defensive coach which is good for me, definitely.”

One player expected to boost the Firebirds chances in 2010 is new goal attack Nat Medhurst from Adelaide.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Plans to Beautify Space under Flyovers

With the vast unoccupied spaces under flyovers becoming a haven for beggars and miscreants, the Delhi government is now planning to seek the help of private players to beautify these in the run-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

There are around 45 flyovers under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government. And even as decades have passed, the concerned departments have hardly carried out landscaping and greening exercises under these flyovers. PWD minister Raj Kumar Chauhan is now exploring the possibility of involving private players to take over the beautification and landscaping of flyovers along with maintenance of the spaces under them. In return, the private company would be given advertising rights.

According to sources, a presentation on this was made before the minister by a private firm on Wednesday. The plan talks of landscaping clubbed with street furniture and use of varied plants to give flyovers an attractive profile. The government will take a decision after studying the presentation and has asked the company to put up a detailed report on the proposal. Sources said if the proposal comes through, flyovers and subways close to the Games venues will be top priority.

Deployment of Private guards for 2010 CWG security

The Central Association of Private Security Industry (CAPSI) said that it was planning to deploy 10,000 private security men during the Commonwealth Games. The association revealed that it had held discussions with Indian Olympic Association (IOC) chief Suresh Kalmadi and Delhi Police chief Y S Dadwal regarding the matter about two months ago.

According to Kunwar Vikram Singh, chairman of CAPSI, three areas have been broadly agreed upon where private detectives and guards numbering around three lakh in the city can actually help the government security agencies. ‘‘The first area is a specialized service where detectives will provide intelligence inputs to the police. The modalities of it are yet to be worked out.

The role of the guards has been fixed and they will be deployed at various parking lots and will manage traffic. Delhi traffic police will give us instructions in a two-day camp,’’ said Singh.

The final modalities of the entire operation is likely to be worked out in a two-day global summit on security, scheduled to be held on December 4 and 5 at the Vigyan Bhavan. President Pratibha Patil is expected to inaugurate the summit. ‘‘We are expecting participants from Beijing, which just hosted the Olympics, and Tel-Aviv, which handle security on a day to day basis.

Besides, participants from US, UK, Germany, France and Saudi Arabia are expected to attend the summit. A delegation from Pakistan is also expected. Greg Scott and Siti Naidu will represent the World Association of Detectives,” added Singh. According to Delhi Police sources, there is a shortfall of trained men in the police force. ‘‘We will take our total strength to around 80,000 men before the Commonwealth Games.

Even this number will be less. Hence, we will take help from various volunteers. It is here that private detectives and guards can pitch in since they already have the basic training in handling large crowds,’’ said a senior officer at the police headquarters. Even as the final plans are awaited, some concerns remain. ‘‘We have procured items from the ongoing security expo at Pragati Maidan and they include handheld metal detectors, car bomb detectors and binoculars manufactured in Israel keeping the Games in mind.

We are still not clear whether the CWG organizing committee or the government will foot the bills,’’ said a senior officer who attended the meetings.

Mahesh Chand Sharma, managing director of GDX companies, a security service provider, told TOI: ‘‘At a meeting with senior police officers we proposed that they should set up a panel of private security companies and shortlist from among them as per their needs.

We have started imparting English lessons to our guards and hope to tie up with Boston University to train them before the Games.’’

40 puppies to be trained as Games sniffer dogs

Commonwealth Games 2010 is a big challenge and no one knows it better than the Delhi Police. In a bid to provide fool-proof security for the athletes at the Games Village and venues, a high-level Delhi Police team of crime branch and special branch left for Hyderabad on Wednesday. They will get 40 puppies that will be used as sniffer dogs during the Commonwealth Games.

According to Rajan Bhagat, PRO, Delhi Police, these puppies will undergo extensive training from January 1, 2010 by BSF trainers.

‘‘We have already asked for 40 slots in their training programme after the police commissioner, Y S Dadwal had an extensive discussion over this with senior BSF officials. After these 40 puppies complete training, we will be procuring another 20 from Meerut,’’ said Bhagat.

Among those officers who left for Hyderabad were the additional CP (crime) Neeraj Thakur, PRO Rajan Bhagat, Popli — the Special Protection Group doctor — and Delhi government doctor Girish Bharadwaj. Sources said that another team consisting of an ACP rank officer, the chief trainer and a dog handler had reached Hyderabad. ‘‘Once the dogs are selected, each of them will receive an unique identity. In order to facilitate this, all 60 dogs will be provided with micro-chips. Since it is a huge exercise, several security agencies are also chipping in with their expertise in this field,’’ said a senior police official.

According to this source, the officers were asked to ensure that none of the dogs are more than one-year-old and that they are all preferably from the same breed. ‘‘Any dog beyond this age can potentially be difficult to train. However, some dogs which are smaller in size like the Cocker Spaniel might be preferred since they can move about freely in crowded places,’’ said a senior police officer.

Capital to face shortage of rooms for 2010 Games

Even as the organizing committee (OC) of the Commonwealth Games 2010 launched its Games travel office earlier in October, sources in the travel industry say Delhi’s preparations for the deluge of foreign tourists are shaky at best. A recent survey by an industry consultant says that of the 100 projects that were announced in 2007 for the Games, only 60 have actually been launched. What is more alarming is that of these 60 projects, only 53% will be built in the next five years. And for the Games, only 5,700 rooms are expected to be ready.

The survey, conducted by the HVS Hospitality Services, an international consultancy, says that against the proposed supply of 16,560 rooms that were to come up in the Delhi NCR area for the Games, only 53% are in actual state of development. These include projects in Delhi as well as Noida and Gurgaon. Added Manav Thadani of the HVS, ‘‘It is expected that there will be a shortfall of rooms as the numbers don’t total up to much, especially in the mid-budget to budget categories.’’

Thandani is not the only one who is worried about the lack of accommodation. Rajinder Kumar, president of the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI), says the industry is expecting at least a shortfall of 15,000 rooms. ‘‘The total number of rooms is not going to be more than 25,000, including guesthouses in areas like Paharganj and Karol Bagh. The minimum rooms required will be 40,000 during the Games,’’ adds Kumar.

Sources in the hotel industry say with less than a year left for the Games, it’s unlikely that rooms will suddenly become available now. Says Ajay Bakaya, ED of Sarovar hotels,

‘‘The government will have to think of alternative forms of accommodation. It is a fact that we are short of rooms at present. During the Games, its going to be much worse.’’ Bakaya, whose group is coming up with several hotels in the city for the Games, admits that development of most hotels is going slow, resulting in many missing the Games deadline. ‘‘Its not just hotels, the entire hospitality industry will be under tremendous pressure as the demand will far outstrip the supply in every way, from rooms to taxis for tourists,’’ adds Bakaya.

The ministry of tourism has also proposed to set up tented accommodation in spots across the city for the backpack tourists, besides the 5,500 DDA flats that will be made available. However, Thadani claims these measures may not suffice. Meanwhile, OC officials say that the committee is responsible for only 4,500 rooms for the various CGA officials coming in. For regular tourists, its going to be a case of the early bird catching the worm, admit sources.


Existing Rooms: 8,625
Proposed: 16,560 (18.2% luxury, 30.3% first class, 33.7% mid-budget, 16.3% budget, 1.5% extended stay)
Rooms new (actual): 5,700
Guesthouses in Paharganj and Karol Bagh: 8,000-10,000
DDA to provide 5,500 flats
Tourism ministry to arrange tented accommodation for backpackers

Paharganj and Karolbagh Areas to have a facelift soon

For upgrading Paharganj and Karol Bagh Areas MCD received Rs 77Cr

The capital is expecting a huge inflow of tourists, both domestic and international which will increase the demand of accommodation in the city. Government is taking several steps to upgrade the facilities available.

Paharganj and Karol Bagh, two old and congested localities in the capital, are set to get a facelift before Commonwealth Games 2010.

The two localities, close to New Delhi railway station, are home to innumerable budget hotels and guest houses, as these areas attract a large number of domestic and international tourists.

With the capital facing an accommodation shortage for tourists likely to visit during the mega event, tourism minister Kumari Selja on Wednesday said that road and transport ministry had already allocated Rs 44 crore for Paharganj and Rs 33 crore for Karol Bagh to Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), which takes care of the two areas.

The Centre aims to completely transform the area with upgrade of roads, construction of new parking lots and also imparting training to hotel and guest house owners and staff.

Selja said, ‘‘Ministry of road transport has sanctioned funds under central roads funds (CRF) for developing civic amenities in the two areas. Around 11,000 rooms available from licensed guest houses in these areas will be utilized during the sporting event.’’

Many tourists both domestic and international prefer to stay in these two areas due to the affordable accommodation they offer and central location.

As the two areas face huge parking problem, Selja said tourism ministry had also given MCD Rs 11 crore to build two parking bays and other civic amenities.

A Singapore-style stack car parking will come up in Paharganj before the Games. In this hydraulic stack parking system, which will be multilevel, cars can be moved vertically or horizontally with powerful hydraulic lifts. ‘‘Major overhaul will be done so that the area attracts as many tourists as possible,’’ said a tourism ministry official.

Training programmes have also been conducted for owners and staff of hotels and guest houses in the two localities on how to behave with guests and what kind of facilities to provide.

The country expects over 1, 00,000 tourists during the October 3-14, 2010 Games.

‘‘With a view to provide the required additional room capacity of 30,000 in NCR, the ministry is undertaking regular monitoring of ongoing projects. In the recent review meeting in October, of the 10,268 rooms in definite category, 5,645 (over 55%) were found to be complete and directions have been given to complete the remaining well before the Games,’’ Selja said.

In another move, the Cabinet on Thursday is likely to approve revised budget of around Rs 1,600 crore for the Games Organizing Committee.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

DTC Training its drivers to enhance language skills for Commonwealth Games tourists

In a bid to enhance the English language skills of its drivers, for effective communication with the tourists coming for commonwealth games next year, Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus drivers are being trained in English to welcome foreign tourists during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

This training is being given as part of New Delhi's initiatives to act as perfect hosts for the event.

Mukesh Kumar said training sessions have boosted his confidence and he was proud to be an Indian brand ambassador.

"One thing is for sure our country comes first in welcoming guests. Indians are great hosts. I also have a part to play to show the world how good hosts we can be. I would be the Indian brand ambassador," said Mukesh Kumar, a bus driver.

Just like Mukesh, over 5000 DTC drivers and conductors are being given lessons and trained in soft skills.

"When they will arrive we'll say 'Welcome to India' and would welcome them. When they will travel in our bus, we would say 'Please take your seat.' And, if they need any help, we'll say, 'may I help you Sir? This way, we will welcome them," said Satya Pal Singh, another bus driver.

Nearly 100,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Delhi next October to witness the two-week long games.

DTC is thus overhauling its bus fleet for the visitors.

"We'll have to think that as drivers and conductors, they are very good in their field. They just have an inferiority complex from which we have to bring them out and need to bring them in to mainstream of the society. So we are trying that they become a bit confident in speaking English language," said Nanditesh Niley, Director, training requirement and education programme, DTC.

Nearly 6,000 new DTC buses will be introduced by 2010 to ease commuting of which many will be low-floor, high capacity and air-conditioned.