Thursday, December 24, 2009

Co-ordination panel comes down hard on 2010 delays

Days after Michael Fennell, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) head, gave a thumbs up to Delhi’s preparations for the event, the report of the co-ordination commission (CoCom) has not been as encouraging.

The CoCom, which conducted the review from December 14-16, has found plenty to complain about. Recommending close monitoring of the preparations by the CGF in almost all key areas, including venue delivery and operations, transport, security, technology and overlays, the report expressed concern over the delay in venue delivery, which would impact the test events. ‘‘Venue delivery and handover schedules have been recently pushed back from January to end of March, and for aquatics and ceremonies/athletics, to June. This had a detrimental impact on test events and any further delay will have a substantial impact on the Games operational delivery,’’ observed the report. The test events are scheduled to take off from January 13 with a hockey tournament at the national stadium.

Sources in the organizing committee (OC) admitted that during the CoCom review, the delay in the two major stadia - Jawaharlal Nehru and SP Mukherjee - had concerned the commission. Both are the primary competition venues for athletics and aquatics respectively. The report made its anxiety clear by stating: ‘‘Little or no concrete planning has been undertaken around readiness and limited planning is behind the test event programme...Initial test events are likely to be deferred due to late delivery of venues.’’ A senior OC official said, ‘‘The apprehension was that operational readiness, which will be tested during the test events at the major venues would have benefited the OC tremendously. But with test events getting delayed in both these cases, it’s too near the Games deadline.’’

The test events were scheduled to be held at JN stadium in March (weight-lifting) and April (lawn bowls), while the swimming competition was planned in April at SP Mukherjee complex. With delivery of both venues expected in June, both the test events are in jeopardy, sources said.

The report hasn’t spared the rest of the preparations either. While the Games Village got positive feedback with the report stating that it had the potential to be the best ever, the report found transport, technology and procurement areas to be functioning below par. The report said, ‘‘Traffic management presents substantial challenges, though mitigation plans are being developed.’’

Security got a thumbs up with the Delhi police’s planning being termed ‘‘well advanced’’.