Friday, October 15, 2010

Indian Superstars: The Medal Winners

Interpol applause games security

General public might have faced some difficulties due to curbs in their movements amid excessive police presence in the Capital during the Commonwealth Games but the ‘effort’ to ensure foolproof security has earned India applause from the Interpol, the global police body.

Praising the arrangement and efforts which went behind it, the Interpol has stated that the Commonwealth Games in India reached “security milestone” in cooperation with the global police body.

Interpol secretary general Ronald K Noble said, “While there has been much media speculation on India’s preparation for hosting the Commonwealth Games, Interpol wishes to go on the record to commend India from a security standpoint....This impressive security milestone could only have been reached through exhaustive and careful planning by both India and Interpol.”

The Interpol has commended Indian security agencies for their “collaborative” efforts with international law enforcement agencies in ensuring the security of participants and visitors flocking the national capital for the Commonwealth Games.” With India hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Interpol deployed at the request of Indian authorities a Major Events Support Team (IMEST) to support their security efforts,” he said.

Audit to Begin: Now Culprits may find it hard to sleep

With the successful completion of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, a collective sigh of relief might well have risen over Raisina Hill. The stuttering prelude to the games, marked by a frantic pace to meet deadlines, had kept a fretful government on edge.

More than one senior figure in the government agreed that the emotion was one of pride about India pulling off a big show tempered by the realization that the games had been a close shave. The standing applause from chefs de mission at the Games Village on Thursday morning was hard earned indeed.

While questions are being raised whether the successful conclusion of the event might dull the appetite for a full inquiry into the graft allegations and bungling that all but marred the Games, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s decision to sit in the spectators’ gallery rather than the VVIP box is an unmistakable statement.

Organizing Committee (OC) chairperson Suresh Kalmadi, who has been at the centre of controversies swirling around the games, seemed a man out on a limb at the closing ceremony thanking everyone in the government and even naming the secretaries to the government. In his bid to ensure he got the pecking order right, he got to Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse pretty late.

Not the most articulate of speakers, Kalmadi thanked Delhi mayor Kanwar Sain even though the present incumbent is Prithviraj Sahni. But that is a minor glitch, and the OC chief is likely to be called to account for a lot of dirty linen stuffed into various cupboards. The mood in government is clear: it is now time for a detailed audit.

The ambit of the inquiry is likely to probe irregularities in the tendering for games contracts, the failure of the Delhi government and some Central agencies in delivering results as well as initial findings that construction was substandard.

Both Congress leaders and government sources appeared clear that the corruption and sloth that almost led the Games not happening cannot be allowed to be brushed aside. The corruption charges have been deeply embossed in the public mind and lack of action was going to reflect poorly on the Manmohan government.

In fact, the late surge to ensure that national honor was not compromised was set in motion at a Congress core group meeting on August 13, where Sonia made it clear that the Games have to be rescued and those guilty of mismanagement need to be brought to book. The following day, PM Manmohan Singh held a marathon meeting that set up an empowered committee to monitor the Games.

What has amazed senior officials is that even after the PM’s intervention the attitude of OC bosses did not change much.

After a small pause: bluelines are back on roads

As the Commonwealth Games came to an end, the fate of 1,600 Bluelines which were phased out from central Delhi and routes leading up to Games venues was hanging in balance. Though the buses will be back on the original routes from October 18 as per the official notification, sources say that the transport department, and Delhiites in general, seem to be keen to phase them out from the routes for good.

Right before the Games started, 1,600 Bluelines plying on 132 routes were put off the roads by Delhi government. The routes were those passing through New Delhi district and near Commonwealth Games venues. For some buses, the routes have been curtailed to ensure that they turn back before entering the designated area where no Bluelines will be allowed. The move is aimed at improving the ‘‘image and look’’ of areas which will be frequented by athletes, delegates and tourists during the Commonwealth Games.

With the Games coming to an end, the notification will also cease to have effect from October 18 when the buses return to their original routes. But the city seems to have gotten used to cleaner, disciplined roads while the ‘‘killer’’ fleet was away and this is now also prompting the government to look for a permanent solution. As for now, sources said that the possibility of extending the notification was looked into but this could have led to serious legal implications for the government, which is bound by a court order issued in May which banned the phase-out of Bluelines till the corporatisation scheme took off.

Encouraged by the response to the phase-out, the transport department is confident that the enhanced DTC fleet can meet the transportation demands of the city. Commuters, too, are a happy lot. ‘‘The DTC buses move a bit slower but are overall better than the Bluelines. They are more comfortable, the seats are not broken and the conductors don’t pick up fights with people on the way,’’ said Veena Prasad, a resident of Paschim Vihar.

Even motorists feel movement of traffic is smoother without the buses. ‘‘The Bluelines were a major nuisance on the roads. Traffic moves faster and there is less trouble on roads,’’ said Ashwani Kumar, resident of Niti Bagh.

The city has sufficient number of buses and another 2,200 DTC buses on Games duty will also be added to the fleet after October 14. Traffic experts feel with such a large number of buses present, there is no need to wait till the corporatisation scheme takes off to get rid of the Bluelines.

People Celebrated the Games Spirit in Durga Puja

Shera may have been conspicuous by his absence at the Commonwealth Games, but at a Durga Puja pandal in Mayur Vihar not one, but many mascots were seen dancing to the traditional dhak.

The Milani cultural and welfare association in Mayur Vihar, which has the Games as its theme, has constructed a pandal that looks like Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. ‘‘Since India has performed exceptionally well, we decided to celebrate the spirit of sports this Durga Puja,’’ said Mrinal Biswas, pandal secretary, Milani cultural and welfare association.

Inside the pandal, posters of various sports adorns the walls, just as JN Stadium. The national flags of the 12 top countries judged on the basis of their performance in the Games also find pride of place. ‘‘We started preparation around one-and-a-half months back. We had to study the JN stadium and the way it has been lit up during the night and replicate it,’’ said Biswas.

This year, a majority of pandals are celebrating 150 years of Rabindranath Tagore. Some have created a small replica of his house, while others are organizing special programmes to celebrate the poet’s life and work. ‘‘We will stage a play written by Tagore called Bir Purush Dal. One day we will hold a special show on Rabindra sangeet,’’ said M K Dasgupta, general secretary, Purbachal puja committee.

Similarly, Mela Ground committee in CR Park has Tagore’s life as theme. ‘‘This is a tribute to Tagore. This year, we are promoting local talents. Due to security concerns we have kept the celebrations a low-key affair,’’ said Pranab Chaudhuri, member of the Mela Ground committee.

This festive season, some feel, is the right time to educate people on issues like global warming. So, the Kali Mandir committee is organizing a puppet show to educate people about the harmful effects of global warming and what we can do to stop it from destroying our planet. ‘‘It’s not just children, but adults too who need to be educated about global warming. We have called a group from Kolkata for this,’’ said Anjan Mukherjee, member of Kali Mandir committee.

Many puja organizers complained that this year they had to restrict the number of cultural programmes as they did not get sponsors.

Games Tourists Explored City on Foot

The public holiday on Thursday offered tourists the perfect opportunity to head out and explore the city. With the usual maddening crowd staying off the roads all markets and offices were shut on account of the Games closing ceremony most visitors went sightseeing and made the most of their last day in Delhi.

Fabio from Italy, who was here to help out with lighting arrangements at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, was spotted at India Gate with Simone and Patrick from Germany. Complete strangers till Wednesday, the three of them met each other at their guesthouse and decided to go around the town together.

‘‘We were all here for work and could not find the time to see our host city. But our stay has now come to an end. Markets were closed on Thursday and the roads were also empty so we decided to go sightseeing. We visited Jantar Mantar and stopped by at India Gate. We enjoyed a lot,’’ said Fabio. In some areas, even restaurants were shut and the city wore a deserted look.

The Adamsons from Scotland also decided to go sightseeing and took the hop-on, hop-off buses. ‘‘We were hard pressed for time and could not see any of the popular places in Delhi. Our stay is nearly over and we are returning to Scotland now, so we decided to visit the various tourist sites here. We liked everything about Delhi but the security was really heavy,’’ said Bill Adamson, whose son is part of the Rugby team.

Delhiites, too, managed to catch up with family and friends. Charanjeet Singh enjoyed his holiday with family in Connaught Place. ‘‘We are a joint family and hardly get time to go out together. Since Thursday was holiday, I decided to take out all the children to Akshardham after which we came to CP.’’ The huge screen installed at Inner Circle attracted many passersby. ‘‘We just saw the hockey final at Dhyan Chand Stadium. We are very proud of India despite the defeat. We came to CP and might stay longer to see the closing ceremony on the big screen.’’

For those living near Lodhi Road and Sewa Nagar, a clear view of JN Stadium from their terrace meant having guests over. Radha Sharma, a resident of Sewa Nagar Railway Colony, said her cousins from Shimla came over specially to watch the closing ceremony. ‘‘First we had guests for the opening ceremony and now more people have come to watch the closing event,’’ said Radha.

Medals won by Indian Shooter Mistakenly placed in Oz Athlete Baggage Created Panic

On Wednesday, India almost ‘lost’ two medals, which were won by one of its ace shooters, to Australia. Heena Sidhu, who had won gold in 10m air pistol team event and silver in individual event, spent a few anxious moments after her bag containing the medals was mistakenly placed in the baggage of an Australian athlete by security officers during the compulsory baggage checking at the Games Village.

According to sources, the incident took place after Heena had returned to the Village after winning her silver medal on Wednesday. ‘‘She was carrying clothes and training kit along with her medals. The bag she was carrying was identical to that of an Australian athlete. The unintended exchange took place at the baggage scanning area managed by Delhi Police,’’ said a senior venue officer. The cops said they began checking CCTV footage as soon as they were intimated by the Indian officials about the missing bag. ‘‘We traced the bag to tower 34 of an Australian athlete. We contacted her and asked her to return the bag as she was not its real owner. She was taken aback as she had not even checked that bag. She willingly gave back the bag and took her own bag from us. Everything inside the bag was found intact, including the medals, which was handed back to Heena,’’ said an officer.

The cops said they contacted Heena and Indian contingent at the Village and apologized for the ‘‘inadvertent error.’’

Though Heena could not be contacted, her shooting partner and gold medal winner, Annuraj Singh, confirmed the incident. ‘‘Everything is all right now. We are proud of Heena’s achievements. The problem has been solved to everyone’s satisfaction,’’ said the ace shooter.

At the cost of 70 crore: did the helium balloon worth its cost

It was bought for Rs 38 crore and was supposed to be the highlight of the opening and closing ceremonies. The helium balloon cost the taxpayer almost Rs 70 crore in total. Yet, on Thursday evening, as the Delhi Games 2010 came to a close, the aerostat merely ended up being a glorified backdrop for the various acts at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Hovering above the grounds, the aerostat described by the organizers as the biggest helium balloon in the world was not even a significant part of the various acts that followed through, far from being the star of any segment. Used more as a prop, with faded pictures and video streams beamed along the sides, the balloon was literally a shadow in the background of the glittering show. For a show that aspired to deliver on the raised expectations of the opening ceremony, the balloon almost seemed an afterthought.

Not perhaps the best closing shot that the organizing committee (OC) would have wanted of this white elephant, specially considering the OC is hoping to find buyers for the aerostat once the Delhi Games 2010 is over. In an earlier interview with an English Daily Times of India, head of Delhi 2010 OC Suresh Kalmadi had admitted that the OC was going to dispose of the aerostat as soon as the Games was over and had already started looking for buyers. Kalmadi had said, ‘‘It’s the property of the OC. We are planning to sell the balloon after the Games... hopefully, this would go towards adding to the revenue OC would have in the end. Incidentally, the OC has taken a loan of Rs 1,620 crore from the Central government to organize the Games — which the OC had promised to pay back with revenue from sponsorships and ticket sales. Unfortunately for the OC, the sponsorships were nowhere near the expected figure, though the committee claims revenue in the region of Rs 700 crore has been generated to date.

The aerostat’s less than glittering show on Thursday evening, however, could not have been the best advertisement for the OC. The opening ceremony had a dedicated segment on the balloon, complete with the beats of Nagadas introducing the aerostat as it ascended to the top of the stadium, hovering 25m above ground. For many, the aerostat set the pace for the rest of the evening in the opening ceremony. For the spectators gathered at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the balloon ascension and the fireworks accompanying it seemed to be like the call to start the celebrations even as it was total paisa vasool. The underbelly of mirrors reflecting the lights on the field of play had only added to the sense of drama.

But on Thursday, that feeling was markedly absent. Most spectators were enthralled with the laser show and the Vande Mataram segment in the closing ceremony even as the Bollywood brigade represented by Shankar Mahadevan, Shiamak Davar and Kailash Kher brought the capacity crowd to its feet. Rohan Bhardwaj (name changed), a volunteer and spellbound spectator of the closing ceremony, said, ‘‘I had expected more of the balloon this time. After all, it’s a great presence in the middle of the field.

The creative team for the closing ceremony obviously didn’t think so. For a prop which at one time was supposed to take drummers up into the sky as the show opened, the aerostat’s final appearance was almost an anti-climax. Even the mirrors seem to have disappeared, leaving only a balloon reflecting images behind.’’

On closing Ceremony Laser Light Steals the Show

If the aerostat was the star of the show at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, the honor belonged to the dancing laser lights at the grand finale on Thursday. The lasers had the arena to themselves for a mere seven minutes but played a significant role in creation of the magical ambience that was the signature of the ceremony which was more relaxed and in many ways more fun than the opening ceremony 10 days ago.

Through the Agni-glory of sports (martial arts show), Vande Mataram and Glasgow segments, the lights gently played around the field. The eeriness associated with the Loch Ness Monster or the spectacular sight of schoolchildren paying a tribute to their motherland in the colors of the national flag was created by these lights. These reached a feverish pitch immediately after the screen had flashed the ‘See you in Glasgow’ sign.

They twisted, turned, created waves in hues of violet, blue, green and every colour of the rainbow and suffused Jawaharlal Nehru Stadim in a supernatural glow. They created illusions of spiraling tunnels at one moment and sheathed the 60,000-odd spectators in a blanket of light at another. It was almost like light had become a three-dimensional object. ‘‘It almost felt that one had entered a zone where nothing but lights were allowed, like in a dream,’’ said 15-year old Vasuki Aiyer, struggling for words to describe the spectacle.

The music was appropriate to the occasion. There were vocals by Shankar Mahadevan and drums, to whose tunes the lights which seemed to have become animate objects gyrated. It was something that Delhi had never seen before.

The aerostat featured lights in geometric patterns but there was hardly anybody who could take eyes off the antics of the lights themselves to look at the projection of the helium balloon.

There has been much more song and dance about the aerostat but today it was little more than a prop. On the other hand, the lights created such an atmosphere of supernatural beauty that it was unbelievable. ‘‘It was like I was in the kingdom of lights where every resident was doing its best to entertain me,’’ said Supriya Sinha, a resident of R K Puram.

The show, which cost the Organizing Committee Rs 1.5 crore, a fraction of the Rs 40-crore bill that the aerostat notched up, was staged by the German firm, Tarm Showlaser, that had enthralled audiences at the closing ceremony of the recently held FIFA World Cup in South Africa among other international events. They had also performed at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Australian Cricket Team Lost: Oz athletes take out frustration in Games Village

Oz athletes take out frustration in Games Village, destroyed electrical fittings and furniture, washing machine: What a Shame

New Delhi: At the top of the medal tally and the undisputed champions of the Commonwealth Games, the Australian team, sadly, didn’t show any sporting spirit when their cricket team lost the Test series to India on Wednesday.

Enraged by the humiliating loss, some athletes, according to highly-placed sources in Delhi Police, went berserk, destroying electrical fittings and furniture in their tower in the Games Village on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Not just that, policemen posted there say they also shouted slogans against batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who played a pivotal role in ensuring India’s victory in the Bangalore match, and flung a washing machine down from the eighth floor of their tower.

Their hooliganism started on Tuesday when Sachin scored a double century. ‘‘The housekeeping staff tried to stop them but to no avail,’’ said a senior police officer handling security inside the Village. Stunned by the little master’s stellar performance, they first damaged electrical fittings and fixtures in their block.
On Wednesday, when India brainwashed Australia 2-0 to keep the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the Australian athletes reportedly threw a washing machine down from the eighth floor, said a senior officer. Mercifully, no one was injured.

Delhi Police, which received a complaint about this vandalism, tried to downplay the incidents to prevent them from snowballing into a diplomatic embarrassment for Australia.

On reports that some Australian athletes went berserk inside the Games Village after their cricket team lost the Test series to India, a senior officer posted there said that they have not received any complaints from Organizing Committee (OC) which owns the property inside the Games Village. ‘‘Therefore, we have not registered any case,’’ said a senior police officer.

Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said: “No complaint has been received. We have found a broken washing machine from the block where the athletes were staying. We are trying to establish as to how the machine reached there.”

OC officials didn’t pursue the matter. ‘‘We have not given any complaint and the matter has been sorted out after discussion with the Australian chef-de-mission,’’ said an official. When asked whether the Australian athletes have tendered any apology, he declined any comment.

With 101 Gold India Beats England in Medal Tally to be on Position two

England and India were tied at 37 golds each, but England had many more medals, so it was a must-win match for Saina and for a nation desperate for some cheer after a demoralizing 0-8 drubbing in the men’s hockey final.

Going by track record, it should have been a no-contest. Saina, world no. 3, had an unbeaten 4-0 record against her opponent, Malaysia’s Mew Choo Wong. But Wong, world No. 17, had run Saina close in the team final a few days ago. Could she do an encore?

She almost went one better in a 74-minute thriller that Saina would later describe as the toughest match of her career. Eventually, Saina won a nerve-wracking battle 19-21, 23-21, 21-13 after facing a match point at 20-21 in the second game. Never before has the country been united by a badminton match. Nor has India come so close to finding such a loved sporting icon after Sachin Tendulkar.

Saina’s triumph ensured the Games would end on a high note for India. It was perhaps only fitting, given the number of heroes who thrilled Indian fans in the past few days.
Earlier on Thursday, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa had won the women’s doubles, again a first for India. The record haul was, of course, set up by the shooters, with Gagan Narang bagging four golds. The wrestlers, led by world champ Sushil Kumar, too obliged adoring fans. But golds also came from some delightfully unexpected quarters.

There was teenager Deepika Kumari, who came up with a golden double in the women’s recurve archery event. India hadn’t won a gold in either track or field since 1958. It got one in each, with Krishna Poonia leading a clean sweep of the women’s discus throw, and the women’s 4x400m relay squad beating Nigeria and England.

Indeed, the relay win, greeted by full-throated acclaim from a packed J N Stadium, moved former athletics great and head of the London 2012 Olympics OC Sebestian Coe to declare, ‘‘It may just have changed the direction of track and field not only in India, but in Asia.”

So does Delhi 2010 herald the arrival of India as a sporting nation? It may be premature to say so. The Asian Games that follow shortly will give us a more accurate assessment of where we stand. But at least while the Delhi Games lasted, Indians tuned in to many sports other than cricket. The Saina-Wong epic was followed as enthusiastically on TV as any T20 thriller. In that and the youngsters who will be inspired to come up with similar feats lies hope for the future.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Top 3 Medal Winners as on 10 October 2010

Australia - 60 Gold; 36 Silver; 35 Bronze; Total - 131
India - 29 Gold; 22 Silver; 22 Bronze; Total - 73
England – 25 Gold; 45 Silver; 30 Bronze – Total - 100

No one wants to stay in VK Games Flats

The Vasant Kunj flats that were built for Commonwealth Games delegates seem to have no takers. Even as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) claims that it had 1,300 flats ready by September 23, only 620 people turned up to stay in them. In fact, according to officials working at the complex, even the national technical officials who were staying there have started leaving ‘‘after having completed their work’’.

Besides the Kaveri Tower, all other towers are far from being complete. On Friday, when Times City visited Vasant Kunj, the complex looked deserted. According to the guards, while the dining hall had been completed from the outside, a lot of work inside the hall remained incomplete.

In Saraswati Tower, where officials claimed that 90% of the work had been completed, iron rods could be seen jutting out from various flats. No landscaping work was done and several portions had been barricaded to hide away the under construction areas. An official said: “A lot of work could not be completed on time due to the heavy rains.”

DDA claimed that it had handed over the flats to the Commonwealth Games organizing committee on September 23, and some volunteers had started living there from September 16. Said an official: ‘‘We had 1,300 flats ready by September 23, which meant that 2,700 rooms were made available for the delegates. Only 620 of them are occupied at present. Some national technical officials, who had been staying in the flats earlier, were shifted. We do not know the reason behind this.’’

Meanwhile, the organizing committee claims that the flats at Vasant Kunj are not up to the mark and this is the reason why international technical officials were put up in city hotels. Said OC general secretary Lalit Bhanot: ‘‘We were supposed to provide four-star accommodation to 1,500 international technical officials. The rooms being provided to us at Vasant Kunj are not of this standard. While some national technical officials are now living in these flats others have been provided accommodation near the Games venues as they have to start work early.’’

Even the technical officials who were staying in the flats have started leaving. Said an official at the complex: ‘‘Out of the 805 flats at Kaveri Towers, 700 have been completely furnished. There is no need to furnish more rooms as only 620 Games delegates are using the flats. Some of them have started leaving after having finished their work. Other delegates who belong to Delhi didn’t wish to move into these flats.’’

Closing Ceremony will witness 7000 artistes perform

The closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on October 14 will be a show of unity and solidarity. While the flag parade of the opening ceremony separately introduced each of the contingents from the 71 participating nations, the closing ceremony promises to be a fun fiesta the march-past will feature jumbled groups of participating athletes to send out a message that they are leaving as one big family.

Having handed over the field of play (FOP) at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for athletics on Wednesday, the organizing committee’s ceremonies team is busy with preparations for the closing ceremony, which they promise will also deliver the ‘‘wow factor’’.

According to sources, though the theme and essence of the closing ceremony will be completely different from the opening spectacle, it will be as grand an event. This time too, about 7,000 artistes will come together to present a spellbinding show.
The opening parade saw athletes from participating countries move in separate contingents with their placards. But the closing event seeks to showcase that all contingents each of which came with its unique identity have been united as one happy Games family.

‘‘The rains had affected preparations for the opening ceremony for most part of September. But we successfully pulled it off. The closing, too, is a challenge as we will get very little time to put together all the logistics. But the team will focus on a minimalist yet innovative approach to retain the ‘‘wow factor’’,’’ said Shovana Narayan, head of ceremonies team. She, however, refused to divulge any further details.

After the opening ceremony on October 3, the ceremonies team had been working to restore the field of play. About 16,000sqm of grass was planted on the FOP before it was handed over on Wednesday morning for the athletics event.

Around midnight on October 12, when the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is handed back to the ceremonies creative team, it will get just 24 hours to convert the FOP into a theatre all over again. ‘‘Our team will be working by the clock. Every minute will count. The lights, videos, aerostat, the conversion of FOP into a theatre, and all other arrangements will be put in place within a very short period. The cast will be brought in on the morning of October 14 to familiarize themselves with the venue by evening,’’ Narayan elaborated.

Most Gold Medal Winners from Haryana

Thirteen of the 25 gold medals that India bagged till Saturday have been mopped up by sportspersons from the northern region, with Haryana alone mopping up 10, including one shared with Himachal Pradesh.

This means the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and HP have clinched more than 50% of the gold medals, with Haryana bagging the lion’s share. Its silver and bronze bonanzas are also the highest in the region, with four silvers and two bronzes under its belt.

Punjab’s Abhinav Bindra had opened the gold account by bagging India’s first gold on the second day. Himachal’s honours rained on Friday and Saturday with army man Subedar Vijay Kumar clinching all three in shooting.

Just before the games, the Jats had been threatening to disrupt the Games for job quota. Now, the whole of Jatland is basking in the dominance of its sons and daughters in the international sports arena.

The boy from Bhainswal Kalan village in Sonepat, Yogeshwer Datt, became the seventh wrestler from Haryana to win gold when he floored his rival in the final match in 60kg freestyle on Saturday.

Earlier, four wrestlers Ravinder Singh (60 kg), Sanjay Kumar (74 kg) and Anil Singh (96 kg), Rajender (55 kg) had bagged gold in Greco-Roman style, while two girls, Geeta and Anita from Babali and Dhani Mahu villages of Bhiwani district won in their respective categories.

The golden show also continued in shooting as after Faridabad girl, Anisha Saied, clinched two gold medals, Karnal boy Harpreet Singh paired with Vijay Kumar (from HP) bagged gold in 25 meter shooting event.

People of Haryana have burst into celebrations following the unprecedented success of their sportspersons. Significantly, most of them are from dusty countryside with humble backgrounds, who made it to the Games with their sheer determination. Now, the prizes and praise is being showered by the same people who had been opposing the Games.

State president of the Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti, Hawa Singh Sangwan, told that their organization has decided to honor the sportspersons after conclusion of the Games.

‘‘We’re proud of the achievements of the Jat girls and boys who’ve brought laurels to the country. The samiti will honor them after the Games. A meeting has been called in Ghaziabad on Monday to decide on the prize money and other incentives,’’ said Sangwan.

All Medal Winners to get 20 percent discount on IGI Duty free Shop

Indian handcrafted items like rose buds dipped in silver, shawls, decoration pieces and, of course, collectibles sporting Mahatma Gandhi are on offer for athletes and delegates from across the world for the ongoing Commonwealth Games.

India’s largest duty-free retail operator located at the new Terminal 3 of the IGI airport here has also announced special discounts for athletes shopping at the duty-free shops till October 20.

‘‘All athletes who have won medals are entitled to a 20 per cent discount on items purchased and we are offering other athletes a 10 per cent discount,’’ said Abhijeet Das, head marketing at Delhi Duty Free Services Pvt Ltd (DDFS).

A dedicated section ‘‘Discover India’’ highlights a range of ready-to-eat food, varieties of tea and coffee, cosmetics, perfumes and handcrafted souvenirs. Another special section offers special Mahatma Gandhi souvenirs.

‘‘The Gandhi products have been very popular with watches, pens, mugs, calendars and sculptures selling a lot,’’ said Das.

Visitor Management System in every 5-star hotel

If you are not staying at Delhi’s five-star hotels and only visiting their bars and restaurants, do not be surprised if you are photographed and issued a visitor card.

Delhi Police has asked all high-end hotels to install visitor management system (VSM) to record info about all the visitors. Touted as a foolproof check, VSM records the entry of visitors, their movement within the hotel and details of people they are meeting. ‘‘We ask visitors for any identity proof with their photo be it a driving license or a PAN card. Using the details on the card, we issue a visitor pass,’’ said a senior staffer at the Le-Meridien Hotel where several Games delegates are staying.

Most of Delhi hotels provisioned 50% extra budget for procuring latest security gadgets for Games though modern equipment such as baggage scanners, door frame metal detectors, CCTVs were included soon after Mumbai 26/11 attack. ‘‘A large amount was spent on installation of these security gadgets. We have also illuminated the area around the hotel so that CCTV cameras can record clear images during night. We are also using VSM. Electronic equipment are thoroughly checked and manual frisking is also done,’’ said a staffer at Ashok Hotel where many dignitaries are staying.

Hotel Janpath where foreign media officials are staying too has undergone renovation for security reasons. ‘‘We have spent money on installing CCTVs, increasing the height of the boundary wall and installing boom barriers. Shatter-proof films have been used on windows to prevent the glass from falling if it breaks due to a blast. We also brief our security staff from time to time about measures to be followed when there’s emergency. Several mock drills by Delhi Police have also helped us,’’ said a hotel manager.

A hotel in Janpath has also deployed a dedicated security team to deal with terror attacks like the one in Mumbai. Hotel employees were also verified by the police before their appointment.

But the heavy security is costing the hotels dearly. ‘‘We are not able to rent out these rooms to other guests due to security constraints. Moreover, foreign tourists and top sports stars have stayed away due to negative publicity,’’ said a top manager of a five-star hotel.

Visitor Management System in every 5-star hotel

If you are not staying at Delhi’s five-star hotels and only visiting their bars and restaurants, do not be surprised if you are photographed and issued a visitor card.

Delhi Police has asked all high-end hotels to install visitor management system (VSM) to record info about all the visitors. Touted as a foolproof check, VSM records the entry of visitors, their movement within the hotel and details of people they are meeting. ‘‘We ask visitors for any identity proof with their photo be it a driving license or a PAN card. Using the details on the card, we issue a visitor pass,’’ said a senior staffer at the Le-Meridien Hotel where several Games delegates are staying.

Most of Delhi hotels provisioned 50% extra budget for procuring latest security gadgets for Games though modern equipment such as baggage scanners, door frame metal detectors, CCTVs were included soon after Mumbai 26/11 attack. ‘‘A large amount was spent on installation of these security gadgets. We have also illuminated the area around the hotel so that CCTV cameras can record clear images during night. We are also using VSM. Electronic equipment are thoroughly checked and manual frisking is also done,’’ said a staffer at Ashok Hotel where many dignitaries are staying.

Hotel Janpath where foreign media officials are staying too has undergone renovation for security reasons. ‘‘We have spent money on installing CCTVs, increasing the height of the boundary wall and installing boom barriers. Shatter-proof films have been used on windows to prevent the glass from falling if it breaks due to a blast. We also brief our security staff from time to time about measures to be followed when there’s emergency. Several mock drills by Delhi Police have also helped us,’’ said a hotel manager.

A hotel in Janpath has also deployed a dedicated security team to deal with terror attacks like the one in Mumbai. Hotel employees were also verified by the police before their appointment.

But the heavy security is costing the hotels dearly. ‘‘We are not able to rent out these rooms to other guests due to security constraints. Moreover, foreign tourists and top sports stars have stayed away due to negative publicity,’’ said a top manager of a five-star hotel.

Alleging Indiscipline 20 policemen Suspended

Twenty policemen, who were on duty at various Commonwealth Games sites, have been suspended for alleged indiscipline and non-performance of duties, Delhi Police said on Saturday.

‘‘Some policemen have been suspended. Disciplinary action will be taken against them as per the rules for not performing their duties, indiscipline and laxity while they were deployed for the Games,’’ a senior police official said.

Of the 20 suspended policemen, eight were deployed at the Games Village, three at other venues and seven on transport and security duties.

Ticketing Incharge Removed: Probe Ordered

All is obviously not well with the sale of tickets for the ongoing Commonwealth Games. There are too many questions and very few answers.

On Saturday, even as the organizing committee (OC) secretary-general and spokesperson , Lalit Bhanot, tried to play down the issue, reports of tickets and passes being sold in the black market were confirmed with two arrests. The OC also replaced Sanjeev Mittal, in-charge of the ticketing function in the OC, with his junior, Monica Jolly, and simultaneously shifted the ticketing operations out of the OC headquarters to Ashok Hotel.

However, with tickets largely remaining unavailable, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief, Michael Fennell, ordered an independent inquiry into the entire issue. He said the report will come out on Sunday.

The OC, meanwhile, continued to play mum, preferring to talk about the ‘‘great turnout’’ at the venues all over the city. Asked if all tickets were sold out for the Games, Bhanot admitted that only 10 lakh tickets had been sold till date. So why aren’t the rest available to the public? Have they been converted into complimentary passes, as many feared when the rush for the Games started a few days ago?

Bhanot claimed that only 10% of the tickets sold every day were being distributed as complimentary passes. ‘‘Every day, the order for tickets to be printed for the next day are based on the number of tickets unsold the day before. In the beginning, since tickets were not selling, we distributed some regular tickets as complimentary passes,’’ said Bhanot. Interestingly, though, the number of complimentary passes hasn’t been brought down once sales picked up. Bhanot said, instead, more passes are being printed. Yet, tickets remain unavailable even as stands are not quite full.

According to Bhanot, this is not a critical issue. ‘‘The turnouts are getting better...Saturday and Sunday saw almost all venues getting a sizeable crowd. Some tickets may have ended up with touts but we can’t do anything about it,’’ said the secretary-general. Spectators don’t agree. Neither, it seems, does Fennell. Speaking at the daily press briefing, Fennell clearly disagreed, as he said, ‘‘If people go to the ticketing counters and they don’t get tickets, there is a problem.’’

That the issue of complimentary passes is headed for trouble is evident from the fact that many can be seen being sold by touts in the black market.

Sources at the venues claimed that the complimentary passes meant for the families of athletes, stakeholders and other VIPs never reach the venues till midway through the matches.

For instance, in the match at Talkatora Stadium yesterday, featuring Vijender Singh, baskets of complimentary passes were delivered to the venue for distribution more than halfway through the bout. Said an official posted at the venue, ‘‘The passes are of no use when they reach the venue at that time.’’

Visitors Denied Tickets But Touts are selling complimentary tickets

If the stadiums were jam packed, you would have considered buying tickets in black a measure of the success of Commonwealth Games. But when ‘sold out’ events turn out to be sparsely attended and yet there are touts offering you tickets, you can conclude that there is something rotten here.

On Saturday, Delhi Police arrested two persons, including a woman, from Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Siri Fort Stadium after allegedly catching them red handed, selling complimentary tickets in black.

Identified as Rekha (34), the woman is claimed to have told the police that she had sold 50 tickets of athletics on Thursday outside JLN Stadium. She was arrested outside Gate no 14 and 15 of the stadium while trying to sell complimentary tickets right outside the ticket counter in black.

Rekha told the police that the tickets were meant for free distribution among students and were given to her by a teacher of a school in Moti Nagar, where she is also employed. The tickets, claimed the police, had been given to this teacher by the father of national level swimmer Richa Mishra. Richa’s father had reportedly obtained the tickets from the organizing committee (OC) and distributed them in several schools. DCP (south) HGS Dhaliwal claimed that no record of the complimentary tickets could be recovered from either the accused or the school authorities.

Ninety-six complimentary tickets were seized from Rekha. These were for track and field events and included 11 tickets of Rs 500 denomination, 45 tickets of Rs 250 denomination and 40 tickets of Rs 100 denomination. Rekha was selling the tickets at double the price. She had allegedly sold several tickets on Thursday. ‘‘We are verifying her claim and trying to find out whether she has more tickets stashed away elsewhere,’’ said a senior police officer.

National level swimmer Richa Mishra said she had no knowledge of the incident. ‘‘My father teaches at the west Delhi school and he is not involved in any ticket case,’’ she said. All efforts to speak to her father directly proved futile.

A case of cheating has been registered at the Lodhi Colony police station. The arrest came following reports that tickets and complimentary passes were being sold in black market. The police is investigating the possibility of other persons being involved in the case.

The second arrest came hours after the woman was arrested a man identified as Sanjay Singhvi (28) was nabbed by cops outside Siri Fort. Singhvi is an honorary member of the OC and joined a few months back. The cops found 14 complimentary tickets in his possession which included nine of the hockey match between India and Pakistan and five of a squash match at Siri Fort. ‘‘He also told us that he had sold two tickets on Friday. We are verifying the source of these tickets,’’ said Dhaliwal.

Singhvi is a resident of Green Park and has a jewelry business. He has been booked and raids are being conducted at his office and residence to find out if he has stashed away more tickets. ‘‘Singhvi claimed that he had sold two tickets each at Rs 100. We have also contacted OC officials about his role in procuring the tickets. An accreditation card issued by OC was also found from his possession,’’ added a senior officer.

Shame on Indian Technology Power: Snag in Games website

The Commonwealth Games official website has gone for a toss. Far from being uploaded automatically almost in real time, the website has been painfully slow, often well behind private media sites. This has virtually shut down an important window on the Delhi Games for the wider world.

The mess is the result of an expensive piece of technology, the Timing, Scoring & Results (TSR) system, a key requirement in modern sporting events. The system was procured by the Games OC for a stunning Rs 112 crore, which is five times more than what Melbourne paid for its TSR system at the last Commonwealth Games. Experts here say it could be bought for Rs 35 crore.

Now, after a week of complaints and with just five days to go, Infostrada, which provides comprehensive statistics and sports information services at the Games, will now launch a new website solely for the media’s use. This cock-up is seen as a huge embarrassment, especially as India prides itself on being a technology power. But the TSR system tripped up every day in the week the Games have been on, forcing Commonwealth Games Federation boss Mike Fennell to admit on Saturday to problems with the system.

USA, Japan in Commonwealth!

If you go by the Games official website, Korea, Japan, the Phillippines and even the US are participating nations! The Games are nearly a week old, but the errors are yet to be removed. Great Britain has been listed as a participating country, even though Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England are fielding separate teams.


Alicia Coutts of Australia
The 23-year-old won five gold: 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley and 2 relay events


Leisel Jones of Australia
equaled a CWG record tally of 10 gold held by Ian Thorpe and Susie O’Neill. Jones, 25, added 3 gold here: 100m, 200m breaststroke & 4x100 medley relay. She had won 3 gold at the 2002 and 4 at the 2006 Games


SILVER (1) Sania Mirza loses in tennis final
BRONZE (4) Suma Shirur and Kavita Yadav
(women’s 10m air rifle pairs)
Men’s TT team beat Nigeria 3-0, Harminder Singh (20 km walk), Monika Devi (75 kg)

Commonwealth Games Federation boss Mike Fennell finally admitted on Saturday that there were problems with the official Games website, which has failed to provide automatic updates and been virtually useless. The huge embarrassment, a result of the Timing, Scoring and Results (TSR) software bought by the Games OC for Rs 112crore, has resulted in Infostrada, which provides sports information services, being drafted in to launch a new website. “There have been glitches,” Fennell said. “With the help of Infostrada and Swiss Timing we are trying for an alternative solution to the problem.”

TSR system has been bought from Swiss Timing, one of the two companies that submitted a bid. The bid of the other company, MSL, was rejected on the grounds that it did not meet evaluation criteria. The Games technology team is headed by Harsh Kumar, who is finance professional. Insiders say that he has no one with him with any experience in handling real-time data. The failure of the Games Information System has left them all out of their depth. When contacted, Harsh Kumar insisted that there are no glitches in his system. His facile explanation was that ‘‘out of the 500 cameras, one camera wasn’t working properly at Ramjas College but that isn’t a venue.’’

The purpose of a TSR system is to enable timely dissemination of information, the lack of which has sent journalists covering these Games scrambling for information and data. Real-time data, such as medals won and timings, is crucial for the media and for regular updates on the website.

According to the experts, miscalculations in determining bandwidth output could be the reason behind the flop showing of the multicrore TSR systems.

At a daily monitoring meeting on October 5, attended by all government agencies involved in the Games and officials of the Games Federation, including Fennell and Suresh Kalmadi, it was cited by some members that there was a problem across all venues and at the Main Media Centre with the updating of results, as the medals tally was not updated. However, the bigwigs are said to have assured the meeting that all problems would be sorted out soon.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Top 3 Medal Scorers as on 09 October 2010

Australia, India and England are the top scorers in the list:

Australia: Gold – 54, Silver – 30, Bronze - 31
India: Gold – 24, Silver – 17, Bronze – 17

England is just one gold medal behind India and has strong chances of becoming second top scorer in the Games

England: Gold – 23, Silver – 41, Bronze - 28

International Technical Officials Shifted to Hotels: Facing Commuting Problems

When the organizing committee (OC) decided to move its international technical officials (ITO) from Vasant Kunj to different hotels in the NCR, it wouldn’t have thought its decision would come to haunt it later. Complaints from delegates about long wait for transport, combined with a long commute, have now forced the OC to re look at its transportation plans.

Said an official, ‘‘Delegates have been complaining about the wait for transport to the venues and back to hotels, especially since most have schedules starting really early in the day.’’ Sources say the logistics behind getting all the delegates to the venue and back to various hotels in the city is the root cause of the problem. With ITOs staying in 12 different hotels in Delhi and NCR, including Gurgaon and Faridabad, sources say picking up the ITOs and dropping them back is a long process every day. Interestingly, the delegates from a particular sport are not necessarily staying together, making it impossible for the vehicle to be confined to a single hotel.

Compounding the problem is the acute lack of drivers that the OC has been facing. Of the 2,200 that were to be provided to the OC by Tata motors, many left the OC hanging, disappearing midway through the first week itself. Now, the OC has hired over 500 drivers from schools in the city, hoping the drivers familiarity with the city will help them get the delegates faster from point A to B. Admitted Jiji Thomson, special DG, OC and in charge of transport, ‘‘The situation has improved tremendously from what it was last week. It should get even better over the next few days.’’ On Friday, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) CEO, Mike Hooper, said no complaints had been received about transportation, hoping that the problem had been resolved.

Meanwhile, sources say that the lack of drivers has been a source of much aggravation for many delegates till date. The ITOs consisting of judges and other technical delegates were to be provided individual cars as part of the Games protocol. These were to be with them through the day, so that commuting between events and venues is easy. However, with few drivers around, many had to share the transport, leading them to wait for the cars as it ferried other delegates. Added the source, ‘‘Though monitoring of the cars is constant through GPS, there were instances when delegates had to wait for half to one hour for their transport.’’

On Friday though, the OC finally put 600 cars specifically for shared transport after new drivers were taken in, with another 300 being added to the T1 (individual) fleet.

Women 100m Medal Ceremony Delayed: Fennell blames officials

CGF president Michael Fennell on Friday conceded that athletes were not treated well as the women’s 100m medal ceremony was delayed for hours on Thursday and blamed ‘‘a major communication blunder by athletics officials’’.

Australia’s Sally Pearson had completed her victory lap on Thursday and was set to collect her gold medal when she was told about her disqualification some three hours after crossing the line.

‘‘The athletes were waiting and didn’t know there was a protest. Treatment of the athletes is unsatisfactory and we are not happy with the way the protesting athletes were being handled. We have issued alerts that such incidents should not happen in future and such protests should be handled properly,’’ Fennell told media persons.

Fennell left fending off the blunders

Apart from admitting serious communication blunders following the controversial women’s 100m race, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief Mike Fennell had other problems to fend off as it emerged that the scoreboard at the Rugby Sevens venue had collapsed. “We should not jump to conclusions without proper understanding of facts,” he said. “We are trying to know how it happened but it has been fixed.”

On the last-minute scramble to get permission for helicopters to cover cycling road race and marathon events, Fennell blamed it on “inexperience” of the organizers and said there was no Plan B if the request was turned down.

“Many cities have restricted areas, what is normally done is you get a waiver for the event. I’m pretty confident it should be obtained later in the day as everyone understands its importance.”

Friday, October 8, 2010

Central Delhi roads to remain closed on Sunday for Cyclothon

Two days before the capital hosts a walk and cyclothon as part of the Commonwealth Games, work on the routes still remains. Delhiites can expect roadblocks in central Delhi on Sunday as cyclists will take part in the 165-km event. To facilitate the event, roads are going to be blocked off a night earlier. The events are scheduled on October 9, 10 and 14.

The affected roads for the main cyclothon event on October 10 include Vijay Chowk, Rajpath, Janpath, Rajendra Prasad Road, Red Cross Road, Parliament Street, Outer Circle, Barakhamba Road, Inner Circle, Minto Road, Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Marg, take a round around the CAG building before turning back on DDU Marg and continuing back on the same route till Vijay Chowk. The main road at DDU Marg, however, is yet to be re-laid. The civic agencies have completed the road relaying work.

Last-minute work like barricading, painting of central verges and other street furniture and horticulture work is being carried out at a frenzied pace. According to OC officials, all the necessary arrangements have been completed but last-minute cleaning up will continue till the event starts since it is taking place in an open area. Said Lalit Bhanot, secretary general of the OC: ‘‘Since the events are taking place in the open, one has to be very careful about security. All the work has been completed, last-minute checks will be carried out till the events begin.’’

The OC has finished barricading the entire route. In addition, changing rooms, broadcasting and recording rooms, lounges, toilets etc, are being set up along the route of the cyclothon. Some seating will also be provided along Sansad Marg. There is a power requirement of 3,000 kilowatts for this event.

The traffic police said the entire route of the cyclothon will be cordoned off for traffic starting from midnight a day earlier. ‘‘The cyclothon which has a 165km men’s event and a 100-km women’s event, will start at 9am and continue till 7pm. The roads will be blocked on midnight of October 9 and opened only after the event gets over,’’ said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic). The cops will also divert buses along the route. Since the event is scheduled for a Sunday, the traffic police don’t expect much dislocation to traffic but blocking of roads could lead to inconvenience. Delhi Police has also set up 270 temporary CCTV cameras along the route. Rajeev Chowk, Central Secretariat and Patel Chowk Metro stations will also remain closed from 6 am to 6 pm.

The walk scheduled on October 9 will affect movement of traffic at Sansad Marg and Parliament Street. The traffic police plan to block movement of all traffic on the roads from midnight on October 8. The walk will start at 6.30am and will continue till 8am after which the roads will be opened. The route starts at RBI building and continues straight for 1km till Outer Circle and back.

On October 14, the day of the closing ceremony, a marathon will be held. It will start at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and tour the city. Even as roads will be closed for this, it is not expected to lead to jams since it’s a public holiday.

Tajmahal prime attraction for athletes

The Delhi Games experience is expanding beyond the city for many of the athletes who have come to India. Sources in the organizing committee (OC) say one of the most popular outlets in the Games Village is turning out to be the Games Travel Office, and specifically for the Agra trip conceptualized by the OC.

A senior official said, ‘‘Since Day One, there has been a lot of interest in the Agra trip despite the bad publicity the Games was receiving.’’ The numbers certainly speak for themselves during the past two trips, over 300 athletes have already been on the train. Run by Northern Railways, the trip which takes two-and-a-half hours either way it seems to have caught the fancy of many athletes. Already, a list of over 200 athletes has been drawn up for the trip scheduled for October 9. Admits Manish Tiwari, chief PRO of Northern Railways, which is the operational partner of the OC for the Agra trip, ‘‘The feedback has been extremely positive. The service has been especially appreciated.’’

It’s not surprising to find out why. The trip, lasting through the day, has a full sight-seeing schedule for the athletes, organized by IRCTC. The actual train journey, which has all the works liveried service staff and the specially-crafted menu for the guests. Perhaps the most exciting is a running commentary not only for the special Taj experience, but also through the journey with snippets about the history of various cities the train passes through Delhi, Faridabad, Mathura, Vrindavan and of course, Agra.

The train, which has nine coaches, has been specially wrapped in the Delhi Games colors on the outside while the inside has large panels with photographs of Indian sports persons, mostly from the Railways, besides heritage and culture, historical places such as Red Fort, Victoria Memorial, etc, and a panel on railway heritage — old steam engines, insignia of old princes and the like. Adds Tiwari, ‘‘There are eight trips planned from October 6-16. The train won’t run on only three days October 8, 14 and 15.’’

Elaborate security arrangements have, however, meant that athletes don’t really get off the designated track. Said Niel, an athlete from England, ‘‘I have heard a lot about the country as my mother came here on Christmas. But till now, it seems only Agra will be possible, as security is very strict for us. I’ll wait till after the Games to explore.’’

For Cycling Event Noida e-way to Remain closed for 3 days

If you thought the four-hour closure of both carriageways on the Noida Expressway for the past two weeks was not bad enough, wait till October 10. According to Noida police, while the carriageway connecting Noida to Greater Noida will be shut entirely on the expressway from 8am on October 10, the other carriageway linking Greater Noida to Noida will be closed infinitely from October 11. This blockade will remain till the time trial CWG cycling event gets over on October 13.

The decision comes after a review of the security at the expressway. Sources said the measure was taken to allow security agencies to check the entire route and enforce a lock-down after this event was termed as one of the most risky ones as it is a road race on open grounds. NSG has asked for more time to deploy their forces while IAF helicopters are getting ready to provide air cover. The police said they will be closing the service and slip roads on both sides of the expressway leading to blockade of residential offices and IT offices.

‘‘We are in constant touch with the OC. However, on Sunday, we will carry a full dress rehearsal with dummy cars and other vehicles,’’ said SP (Noida Traffic) Ajay Sahdev.

Glitch in RF Ticket Readers: Many Denied Entry in the Stadium

You may have a ticket for your favorite Commonwealth sports event, but this doesn’t necessarily mean your entry to the stadium will be hassle-free. After several spectators complained that they faced problems while entering the stadium as the radio frequency ticket-readers failed to recognize the tickets Delhi Police conducted an internal inquiry which has detected a major problem in the central system set up by ECIL.

While some ticket-holders were turned away as their names could not be found in the system, many others whose names were displayed on the system who had accreditation were forced to go back as their pictures were not uploaded on the system.

ECIL officers, however, said these were only minor glitches which were promptly taken care of by their engineers. ‘‘We will sort out all the problems in the next couple of days. There are multiple agencies involved and it is a matter of time before all systems get perfectly integrated,’’ said an officer.

According to cops, these glitches were a result of the frequent failure of the LAN network connecting all the machines to the venue server and the WAN network connecting the central ECIL server with the venue servers. Networking professionals attribute the problem to ‘‘unstable and insufficient bandwidth’’ that is causing the WAN network to snap. Due to the same, photographs from the central server are not getting uploaded on venue servers.

Cops point out that the company never went for a ‘‘stabilization’’ process or trial run of the setup. ‘‘In any technical setup, there are always some teething troubles. So, a test run is important to identify the problems and come up with solutions before the actual process starts,’’ explained a senior police official, who did not wish to be named.

What complicates matters is that the installation of the system was worked out by multiple agencies for wiring, placing the switches and supplying power. This seems to have resulted in problems in integration, claimed the official. Cops now want the company to upload photos of spectators from its central server to the venue servers and then download the entire data on the laptop to ensure availability of updated data on individual venue servers.

ECIL, meanwhile, blamed Delhi Police for the hitches, claiming the data came late because of which uploading all of it in time became difficult. The cops denied this saying all the data had been first given to the company by the organizing committee on CDs. ‘‘We only got the updated data,’’ said a Delhi police officer.

Delhi University Hostels Still Waiting for Tourists

Seeing empty rooms at Delhi University hostels, it is hard to believe that the Commonwealth Games is in full swing. The hostels, which students vacated so that room could be made for tourists who were expected to arrive in Delhi during the Games, are still waiting for guests.

Except for nine visitors at Miranda House, who came for the opening ceremony and left on Thursday, there are no official guests or backpackers taking up accommodation in these hostels, which were especially renovated for the Games. In a bid to salvage the situation, UGC last week slashed the room rates by around 50% but even that failed to attract any guests. Meanwhile, nearly 2000 students who were told to vacate the hostels continue to pay through their nose for private accommodations in area near DU.

At Daulat Ram College, four Nigerians turned up for accommodation last week. But they stayed in the hostel only for two days. According to college sources, DU officials later found out the foreigners were not visiting for the Games but had come to the city for a conference. The hostel warden could not be contacted despite several attempts.

On Thursday, these budget accommodations were all empty and college officials were not expecting any guests. Among the three venues Hindu College, Lady Shri Ram and Jamia University where volunteers from Sports Authority of India were supposed to stay, only in Jamia there is some action with the other two hostels wearing a deserted look.

In DU, Hindu was the college where guests were almost certain to come. SAI was supposed to allot rooms at Hindu hostel to its volunteers. But that never happened. ‘‘We are ready with our renovated rooms but guests have not showed up so far. SAI had earlier planned to accommodate about 1,000 volunteers in Jamia hostel and ours. But only half of volunteers could get accreditation. All of them are staying in Jamia,’’ said Warden Chandrachud Singh. ‘‘We clean the hostel every day just to make sure that we are ready if someone shows up at our doors.’’

Added Rajendra Prasad, principal of Ramjas College, where 200 beds are available for Games guests, ‘‘We haven’t received any list of guests from the Games travel office yet. And I don’t think there will be any guests coming our way now.’’

The colleges aren’t really complaining. ‘‘Who will come to DU hostels to stay during the Games? Our hostels have become really swanky but we are still waiting to see if any tourist arrives,’’ said Bhim Sen Singh, principal of Kirori Mal College. ‘‘Probably, nobody will come but this deal with the OC has been a blessing in disguise. Our hostel is ready with new infrastructure. Besides rooms and furnishings, the kitchen of the hostel has become clean and up market.’’

It’s the same story at Shri Ram College of Commerce, where all rooms have marble flooring. Principal P C Jain said: ‘‘We slashed rates to suit the budget of different travelers. Where else will you get such accommodation at such a cheap rate?. He added that guests are not coming but it doesn’t bother him. ‘‘We are happy that students will stay in a better place after the Games,’’ said Jain.

New Zealand Apologizes for Racist Remark on CM

Angered by a Kiwi TV anchor’s comments ridiculing Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, India on Thursday summoned New Zealand high commissioner Rupert Holborow while strongly and unequivocally denouncing the ‘‘racist’’ remarks. Holborow was quick to express regret for the remarks by TVNZ presenter Paul Henry, describing them as vulgar and culturally insensitive.

Issuing a strong demarche, the government said it was shocking that such bigoted views were aired by a representative of a mainstream media organization of a multi-ethnic democracy like New Zealand.

‘‘These remarks are totally unacceptable to India and should be condemned by all right thinking people and nations. It is hoped that the government of New Zealand would take immediate demonstrative action against the said individual to send out a clear signal that such behavior is totally unacceptable,’’ a statement issued by the foreign ministry said.

According to the government, Holborow conveyed deep regret for the hurt caused by the comments which he characterized as culturally insensitive, inappropriate and vulgar and certainly not the views of the government of New Zealand. He also acknowledged the ‘‘vital contribution’’ of the Delhi CM to the Commonwealth Games.

The Indian high commissioner in New Zealand has also taken up this matter with the New Zealand government. On Thursday, the New Zealand high commission had organized a lunch in honor of Governor-general Sir Anand Satyanand but Indian officials kept away from the event.

‘‘These remarks were culturally insensitive, inappropriate and vulgar. They reflect the views of only one media commentator (who has already been censored for other racist and unacceptable comments), and certainly not the New Zealand government or people,’’ Holborow later said in a statement.

It was a double whammy for Henry as he had just been suspended by TVNZ for two weeks for a racial slur at the country’s Indian-origin governor-general Satyanand.

During a TVNZ programme on Monday, Henry asked Prime Minister John Key whether Anand was a New Zealander. When Key told him that Anand was a New Zealander, Henry asked if he was going to pick someone who looked more like a New Zealander next time.

Henry’s jibe at Dikshit was equally disgusting, if not worse. ‘‘The dip shit woman. God, what’s her name? Dick Shit. Is it Dick Shit... it looks like dick shit,’’ he said on his breakfast show. It did not end there though. ‘‘It’s so appropriate, because she’s Indian, so she’d be dick-in-shit wouldn’t she, do you know what I mean? Walking along the street... it’s just so funny,’’ he went on.

Talking to a news channel, Dikshit later said, ‘‘I don’t know what the reasons are but I think they are being... in diplomacy they don’t use this kind of words. Our students have also been suffering there. I really don’t know. It’s for the government of India, the MEA to take note of all this and give them an appropriate request or action.’’

3 More Gold in India’s Bag

Nigerian Osayemi Oludamola won a controversial 100m women’s race after Aussie Sally Pearson was disqualified and Jamaica’s Leron Clarke continued his country’s dominance of the men’s event even as India celebrated a day of firsts.

While shooting continued to prove a gold mine, with a gold double coming at the ranges, India’s 10-medal count which kept the hosts at second spot in the overall tally included two special ones. Geeta Phogat the eldest of five wrestler sisters from Balali village in Haryana’s Bhiwani district won India’s first women’s wrestling gold at the Games in the 55kg freestyle.

Nineteen-year-old Ashish Kumar won India’s first gymnastics medal at a major meet, when he landed bronze in the floor exercises.

Pistol shooter Gurpreet Singh too, will remember Day Four for a long time. First, he partnered Vijay Kumar for the 25m rapid fire pairs title and then stood alongside Omkar Singh to take home the 10m air pistol pairs gold.

It was not so rosy for India in men’s hockey, where Australia beat Jose Brasa’s men 5-2. In tennis, favourites Leander Paes and Sania Mirza were stunned by Scots Colin Fleming and Jocelyn Rae.

10-MEDAL HAUL India stayed overall 2nd with 3 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze medals on Thursday.

Ashish Kumar first Indian gymnast to win a CWG medal

SILVER Ronjan Sodhi (double trap shooting), Nirmala Devi (48kg women’s freestyle wrestling), C Jignas, Ritul Chatterjee & Chinna Raju Srither (men’s team compound, archery) BRONZE Ashish Kumar (gymnastics, floor exercise), Suman Kundu (63kg women’s freestyle wrestling), Sudhir Kumar (77kg weightlifting), Bheigyabati Chanu, Jhano Hansdah & Gagandeep Kaur (women’s team compound, archery)

Games Schedule for 8 and 9 October 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Basements of Games Village still in Deep Water

Despite several rain-free days in the capital, the basements at the Games Village continue to be waterlogged. MCD officials said they were trying to drain out water but porous soil was making the task difficult. Officials said damp basements may lead to mosquito breeding and could lead to dengue cases inside the Village.

Sources said even though there are only puddles of water in the basements of towers 1 to 9, two basements that lie under the towers 10 to 34 are still waterlogged.

‘‘We keep pumping out water, but it oozes out through the soil over the basements. Till this soil, put up for plantation, does not dry up, the basements will continue to face problems of water stagnation. Since the basements are at a lower level than the Yamuna, water had entered during the flooding,’’ said an official.

MCD officials claim they are spraying antilarvae chemicals in the basements but it may not be much help. Said an official: ‘‘We keep spraying anti-larvicide in the basement but with water being pumped out continuously, the entire purpose is defeated.’’

Added Dr V K Monga, chairman of MCD public health committee, ‘‘We are taking all precautionary measures to prevent breeding. Fogging is being carried daily and our staff is working to drain out water from the basements.’’

Experts said that damp basements pose a health risk. Said Dr Bir Singh, head of community medicine at AIIMS, ‘‘The subsoil water collected in the basement can be an ideal space for mosquito breeding. It can cause vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria.’’ He added mosquito breeding is common on the Yamuna riverbed.

Sources said the state government has now approached Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for assistance in draining out the water. ‘‘We have received a request. Water is seeping into the lifts. We have already worked out a plan for it,’’ confirmed a DMRC spokesperson.

A little Relief for Organizing Committee as 500 athletes arrive in the Games Village

It was a relatively sunny start of the week for the Delhi Games 2010, with the intense work in the Games Village showing visible results. While the scenario seemed to be brighter sources said that the number of uninhabitable rooms which had been put at 150 is now only 30-40 rooms both team delegates as well as athletes admitted that the Village had improved significantly. The best news for the organizing committee (OC), however, was the arrival of another batch of over 500 athletes from various countries for the Games.

The day wasn’t without its controversies however. The comments made by Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) CEO, Mike Hooper, continued to create ripples on Monday, with Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit calling it ‘‘unkind’’ and ‘‘undiplomatic’’. However, Hooper received strong backing from CGF boss Mike Fennell, who insisted that the New Zealander neither blamed the Indian government nor made any disparaging comments about India’s vast population being responsible for traffic snarls as was reported in the media. ‘‘Far from any emotive commentary, Mr Hooper merely
stated the fact that the responsibility for delivering and operating the Games lies with authorities in India, as per the Host City contract,’’ said Fennell in a statement.

The mood was better in the Village though, with both the Delhi government and OC claiming that extensive repairs had been done in the Village. Dikshit was scathing in her assessment of the state of the Village as handed over by DDA and the developer, Emaar MGF. ‘‘We inherited it (the Village) in a very difficult situation,’’ she said. ‘‘I do hope at the end of it, everything will be all right...of course there are some seepages which the builder and the DDA should have looked at earlier,’’ Dikshit who has been personally monitoring the ‘clean-up operation’ at the Village said. She, however, refused to put a deadline to when the work would be complete in the Village. DDA was also criticized by cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar and several top officials of the OC and Delhi government at the meeting on Sunday, sources said.

The OC meanwhile seemed to have shifted its operation to the Village, with most of the important meetings taking place there. The stock-taking exercise with the CGF, OC and Delhi government saw several issues being discussed including transportation. ‘‘Almost all the people have entered (the Village) ... There are small problems relating to transportation that we are sorting out,’’ added Kalmadi.

The day also saw the formal flag hoisting ceremony of team Scotland and Norfolk at the Games Village. The arrival of over 500 athletes from England (61), Australia (59) and Canada (30), Scotland (77) and South Africa (113) was also seen. The reaction from those who checked into the Village was mixed, with the Scots remaining sceptical while the Aussies were happy. ‘‘I am not concerned at all because once people get here they will want to be a part of the Commonwealth Games experience,’’ Australian chef de mission Steve Moneghetti said.

Meanwhile, South African high commissioner, Harris Mbulelo Mejeke, who had claimed to find a snake in the accommodation provided for his country’s team on Sunday, took a different stance, saying things were ‘‘unlike’’ what he saw during his previous visit. ‘‘Everything has been addressed. They are finishing up and everything will be all right,’’ he added.

Always Carry an ICard if You Are Going Near any Games Venues

The latest piece of advice from the cops is that you should carry an ID-card if you are going anywhere near the Commonwealth Games Village or the venues either for official work or in an emergency. Police say this will save people any hassle at security checkpoints.

‘‘There will be extensive police presence in and around the stadiums round the clock. We are aware that there will be constant movement of hundreds of citizens as several offices and residential complexes are located in the vicinity of these stadiums. So it will be wise to carry an ID proof so that people can explain to us where they plan to go,’’ said an officer in-charge of security at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Several offices function out of the CGO and Scope Complex area at Lodhi Colony right across JN Stadium. ‘‘If we ask someone the purpose of his visit, an official ID-card will help establish not only the identity of the person, but also the purpose of the visit,’’ added the officer. The offices are expected to remain closed only on the opening and closing days of the event.

The cops assure no one will be unduly harassed. ‘‘Not everyone has to carry an IDcard. This is a free country that allows free movement of people. Except where there are specific restrictions, we will not stop anyone from moving around. But police has the right to question any suspicious character and merely possessing an I-card is no guarantee that a person will not be questioned,’’ added the officer.

The Noida police and Gurgaon police, too, have advised residents on similar grounds. ‘There are a number of IT offices on both sides of the Noida Expressway. We have requested all employees who will be attending offices during the practice sessions and the main cycling event to show their ID cards during any spot checks,’’ said a senior Noida police officer. He added that on their specific request, a few IT companies have even tweaked their office timings ‘‘allowing us to shut down the Noida Expressway from 10.30am to 2.30pm till October 13 when the time trial cycling event is scheduled.

Street Vendors and Hawkers to go During Games

Finding vegetable vendors or going to the local dhaba is becoming an increasingly difficult task in the city. In an attempt to clean up the capital and also rule out security threats before the Games, civic agencies, along with Delhi Police, are going all out to remove ‘‘illegal’’ vendors across the city.

The agencies claim that the drive is not related to the Games and was, in fact, launched in June this year as routine action. However, it’s only in the past few days that the drive has been intensified and its effect felt all over the city. According to estimates by MCD, there are over one lakh ‘‘illegal’’ vendors in the city. ‘‘Only 5% to 10% of the vendors selling food items on Delhi’s roads have a licence,’’ said an MCD official. Paan shops and cobblers too are being targeted.

They are being removed from all across the city. Reports have been coming in from areas like Dwarka, Vasant Kunj, GK-II, Defence Colony, Lodhi Colony, Lajpat Nagar, Paharganj, Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk etc. While many vendors have quietly left the city, some are resisting the drive.

Anil, who owns a paan shop in Paharganj, said he has been asked to shift his shop several times since September 20 but he keeps turning up everyday as he has a family of five to support. ‘‘I’ve been told by the police and MCD to shut shop till October 15. If I do that, how will my family survive?’’ he asks.

A policeman near the Paharganj market lamented they were not being very effective.

‘‘We don’t have enough staff to ensure sustained action. Most of our officers are stationed at the venues,’’ he said. The situation was similar in Lajpat Nagar where vendors have refused to go away.

The so-called anti-encroachment drive is inconveniencing people in other ways too. ‘‘A special vegetable market is held in Dwarka every Sunday. But we were told by the vendors that they would not be coming from October 1 to October 17 because of the Games. Apparently, the police have clamped a ban on the bazaar due to security issues. We don’t know what to do now as this market is the only source for vegetables and fruits here,’’ said Shivani Bhattacharya, a resident of Dwarka.

The sweeping nature of this drive can be gauged from the fact that even the Sai Baba temple on Lodhi Road has not been spared. The front gate has been closed to ensure there are no crowds or traffic jams. Now, a side gate gives people access to the shrine. Said a police officer: ‘‘The flower shops around the temple area will remain closed during the Games.’’

Flower shops and small grocery shops have been shut down at GK-II’s M-block market. In Vasant Kunj, people actually signed petitions to prevent removal of a popular chaatwallah but to no avail. ‘‘People are being terrorised in the name of the Games. I wanted to get my shoes repaired and was unable to find a single cobbler in the area,’’ said Shabana Sinha, a resident of Lodhi Road.

In some areas, vendors with valid permissions are also being sent packing if they happen to fall along the route of a Games event.

‘‘We are removing all encroachments on public land along with Delhi Police,’’ said MCD’s press and information director, Deep Mathur. ‘‘The encroachment drive is part of regular action and has nothing to do with the Games.’’ NDMC officials say the same for record.


Number of illegal vendors in city Over 1 lakh
Only 5-10% of vendors selling food on capital roads have the requisite licence, according to MCD. Illegal vendors include vegetable and fruit sellers, pan shops, small shops selling clothes, flower shops, cobblers


MCD and NDMC are removing illegal dhabas as part of the hygiene drive ahead of the Games. MCD has also launched a crackdown on vendors selling street food

Some legal dhabas in certain areas are also being shut down for the period of the Games as they are located on routes leading to Games venues

WHAT AUTHORITIES SAY Civic agencies claim the anti-encroachment drive is a routine exercise and it has nothing to do with the Games

Delhi Police says illegal vendors not only pose a security threat but also cause unnecessary crowding on roads

Homeless and Poor Lost their Livelihood Due to Games Cleanup

Hundreds of homeless and poor in the city have lost their meagre livelihood courtesy the clean-up drive ahead of Commonwealth Games. Authorities have been rounding up beggars from the roads and outside temples, and many others have been caught by the cops at traffic intersections.

A balloon seller, Hira, fears she will have to go hungry for days. ‘‘Many have already left the city. The authorities have made no arrangements at the shelters where they are asking us to stay put,’’ she says. The message to the downtrodden is clear: don’t step out, lest the Games visitors spot you.

Delhi Police claims it is not carrying out any drive to clear the roads of beggars and has only provided a team of 25 personnel to the social welfare department for whatever action it takes to prevent beggary. The social welfare department, meanwhile, was not forthcoming with details and simply gave out a figure of 1300-odd beggars who have been rounded up since January. The department has come under criticism for not being able to work out a human solution to the problem of begging. It has failed to create a mechanism in which beggars can be productively involved in other tasks.

But even as the cops and the city government claim they are not carrying out any aggressive drive, one can see the beggars and homeless gradually disappearing. While a number of them have fled the city out of fear, those who are still in the midst of the storm are on vigil, always looking out for cops or the vehicle from Sewa Kutir which apprehends beggars. Hanuman Mandir complex is a case in point. Here, the number of beggars has significantly gone down but vagabonds can still be seen lost in deep slumber in the nearby subway. Hira, who lost her child last year after the MCD demolished a night shelter to beautify a park at the Pusa Road roundabout, now lives with 450 other homeless at a 24-hour MCD shelter in Motia Khan. For over a fortnight now, the men and women who sell balloons at traffic signals are being shooed away by the officials. As many are afraid to step out of the shelters set up by the civic agencies and run by NGOs, the homeless, beggars and destitute are already facing a food crisis.

Raju, another balloon seller, pointed out that he has six children and is now left with no money to buy food for them. Another inmate, Suresh, complained that he had been left without any means of sustenance. Kishan Lal’s grandmother died at the shelter on Sunday but he didn’t have the money for cremation. Finally, the others somehow pitched in for the last rites. A similar situation exists at the shelter at Kilokri near Ashram.

‘‘More and more people are taking refuge in shelters because they are afraid of being caught by the police or the anti-beggary squads which are very much on the job. The result is that these people have run out of money and now fear that hunger will strike soon. Even those on the streets are facing this issue,’’ Indu Prakash Singh, an expert on urban poverty and homelessness from Indo-Global Social Service Society, said.

The society on Monday, as part of the ‘City makers’ campaign, issued an urgent appeal to other civil society networks to come forward to help with ration supplies which can be distributed at the shelter homes.

Now Government to Pay for Meals for Doctors on Games Duty

With the organizing committee failing to provide food to doctors and paramedics posted at various Games venues, the state health department has decided to take up the task. The department is planning to give Rs 150-200 per day for food to medical staff on Games duty.

Initially, it was the responsibility of the organizing committee to provide food to the workforce. Since September 21, Directorate of Health Services (DHS) has been bombarded with complaints from doctors and paramedics about poor facilities at various venues. ‘‘We have been told that our staff doesn’t even have access to coffee machines. Due to security concerns, they are not allowed to take food inside the venues and OC has made no arrangements. If they are on duty for eight to nine hours, we must provide them with sufficient food items,’’ said a senior government official.

Sources say that at such a short notice, it is difficult to make arrangements for 2000-odd staff. Moreover, officials say, the food items will be scanned at ITPO due to security concerns and then sent to different venues. ‘‘Chances are that the food will get spoilt and we don’t know whether it will be given to them on time or not,’’ said an official.
With less than a week left for the Games, DHS is planning to reimburse doctors and other medical staff for food. ‘‘We are thinking of giving Rs 150-200 per day to all the medical staff on Games duty for food,” said Dr S K Bhattacharjee, director health services, Delhi government.

Doctors posted at almost all venues, including those posted at T3 of IGI airport, are complaining of poor facilities. Sources say those posted on Games duty at the medical centre in T3 are given nothing. ‘‘They have not been given any transport to reach T3. Most of them are spending close to Rs 400 to reach the airport. We are also told that as OC is not providing them food, they are forced to buy it from the airport,’’ said a health official.

Helping Hand From Oil ministry: Offers to Buy Rs 10cr Games ads

Helping Hand From Oil ministry: Offers to Buy Rs 10cr Games ads

The Commonwealth Games Village on Monday had an unusual visitor in oil minister Murli Deora, who went to the site to take stock of fuel supplies. The minister directed gas utility, GAIL, to help out the organizers with 200 guards for keeping a watch on equipment and material.

On Friday, Deora had taken the CEOs of flagship oil firms under his ministry to meet CM Sheila Dikshit to offer “support” for her efforts. He ordered the oil companies to buy Rs 10 crore worth airtime from Doordarshan, which has the exclusive telecast rights to the Games but has been struggling for sponsors.

“My visit is to show solidarity with the Games, its organizers and the Delhi government. Hosting such event is an honor and as Indians we should be proud of it. It is a national event. I went to see three apartments. They are looking clean. Things have improved,” Deora said.

The minister said he found some issues regarding diesel supplies to the Village and asked IndianOil chairman, B M Bansal, to sort it out with his executives on the spot.

Awaiting Inspection Metro is Ready to Serve on Badarpur line

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is gearing up to open two new Metro lines Central Secretariat to Badarpur and Airport Express Line by the end of this month. On Monday, train trial runs on the Badarpur line were extended till the Sarita Vihar train depot.

The corporation is awaiting a date for inspection of the line by the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS), for which all the required documentation has been submitted. The CMRS inspection of the Airport line was started on Monday and a date for opening of the section is expected to be announced on Tuesday.

According to sources, the Airport line is expected to begin during this week.

Two stations on the line, Dhaula Kuan and Delhi Aerocity, will not be opened for public use as the concessionaire for the line has been unable to complete them. The Badarpur line is expected to be inspected by the CMRS around September 29 and opened a day or two later.

Meanwhile, on Monday, train trials on Badarpur line were extended till the Sarita Vihar depot after the Overhead Electrification (OHE) lines were electrified by DMRC. ‘‘Now, the trains are running to Jasola and Sarita Vihar stations too, covering a distance of 15 kms out of total 20 kms. Construction of the last section of the line is underway,’’ said a DMRC spokesperson. Till now, trial runs were being done till Okhla Metro station.

All the documentation for CMRS inspection of the line has been submitted and a final date for inspection is likely to be announced on Tuesday. DMRC clarified that the 20.16-km long line will be opened before the Commonwealth Games.

Limited Seats Making it Hard for VIPs to be in Royal Box Seating List

Having failed on all fronts, the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee (OC) and the Delhi Police decided to pull out all stops to at least make the opening and closing ceremonies a grand event. But here, too, there’s a hitch.

The royal box at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium has 100 seats where President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prince Charles will be seated, along with other heads of nations. However, bureaucrats are lobbying to get their names included in the list of VVIPs who will be seated in the royal box. This has delayed finalization of the list.

The Delhi Police, which should have got the final list by now considering just six days remain for the Games, is still waiting as the OC and bureaucrats are making last minute changes. The police said they were in touch with the OC regarding the status of seat allotment. Due to limited seats, even the VVIPs have been given seats for only themselves and their spouses, said an OC official. The royal box is opposite gate number one and those who will be seated there will be allowed till there with their cars. From gate number one, all VVIP will be escorted inside the stadium. Due to security concerns, the royal box is not being handled by the local police. The security branch of Delhi Police, which provides security to VVIPs in the city, and, the Special Protection Group (SPG) have been entrusted with the job. An officer of the rank of ACP will be in charge of security.

Out of the 100 seats inside the royal box, 35 will be given to Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) officials. ‘‘A few of the remaining seats will be used by SPG and Delhi Police security officers who will be seated with the VVIPs. It will be one of the highest-secured zones inside the stadium. On the opening and closing days, the vehicles of only the VVIPs will be allowed and all the MPs have been asked to come in a bus which will drop them inside the stadium,” said a police officer.

Inside the stadium, there is parking space for only 489 vehicles. On the days of the opening and closing ceremonies, parking space for 250 vehicles will be kept for the buses which will ferry delegates, MPs, embassy officials and others. The police have planned a full-dress rehearsal at the stadium between 5am and 1pm on Tuesday.

Diversions and Curbs on roads around Nehru Stadium

If you are working or living near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium the venue for the opening and closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games get set for diversions and roadblocks in the area as part of security arrangements. From Tuesday, the traffic police will restrict movement of vehicles on roads around Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The restrictions will affect those headed to areas like CGO complex, Pragati Vihar hostel and Lodhi Colony.

Traffic bound for CGO complex and Pragati Vihar hostel will not be allowed from Bhishma Pitamah Marg on J N Stadium road. All vehicles will have to take the route via Lodhi Road. Those headed to Electronic Niketan, Soochna Bhawan, Scope Building complex and MTNL can only access these areas through Lala Lajpat Rai Marg. ‘‘No vehicles including those of paramilitary forces will be allowed on Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium road between Bhishma Pitamah Marg to Scope Complex crossing. Only those with parking labels, issued by the security wing of the concerned office, will be allowed to enter the office complexes. No unlabelled vehicles will be allowed to enter the parking lots,’’ said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

Cops would not allow anyone to park vehicles on the J N Stadium road, Scope Tower, CGO complex or MTNL road. Heavy vehicles, including buses and trucks will be banned on the stadium road. They can use Lala Lajpat Rai Marg and Lodhi Road and drop passengers at the Lodhi Road petrol pump or near the NBCC bus stop. Those residing in Type-V flats at Lodhi Road will be allowed entry from Lodhi Colony side after taking a left turn on Bhishma Pitamah Marg. ‘‘The restrictions will be in effect from September 28 to October 14, 2010. In view of restrictions, officials are requested to use car pools, Metro trains and public transport to avoid congestion in the area,’’ Garg added.

A New Pain for Commuters as Games trial begins

With the movement of over 1,600 Bluelines curtailed on 139 routes, bus commuters faced a harrowing time on Monday.

The waiting time at bus stops in east, northeast south and central Delhi was as high as one hour on some routes and commuters could be seen hanging from buses during the office hours. Transport department officials claimed they are putting more buses on the roads to meet the passenger demand and relief can be expected in the next 1-2 days. The Bluelines will be back after the Games on October 16.

During office hours, major bus stops in the affected areas could be seen overflowing with passengers. People complained of long waits for buses and increased travel time. ‘‘I waited for one hour to get a bus on route 445 from Kailash Colony to get to ITO. Normally, I get a bus within 10 minutes but the wait didn’t seem to end on Monday,’’ said Dipak Jha, a Central government employee.

Even those who were fortunate enough to get a bus had to brave crowd or hang from footboards. ‘‘I could barely breathe in the DTC bus I took on route 511. I was forced to get off two stops later and took an auto back to Sarita Vihar,’’ said Swati Kedarnath, a student of south campus. On routes where DTC services were good earlier, commuters felt the pinch in the afternoon when the number of buses were fewer. Delhi Metro recorded a rider ship of 12.62 lakh, which is about 65,000 more than usual.

The government, meanwhile, contended that over 4,140 DTC buses were plying on Delhi roads on Monday, highest ever run by the corporation and an addition of about 2,000 over the normal. But despite that, buses ran packed to capacity on certain routes. Officials claimed the main issue with Bluelines is that the actual number of buses plying on lucrative routes is different from what exists in the records of the transport department. So even after the government put more buses on the roads, commuters felt a shortage.

‘‘There were problems on some of the routes in the morning which are being addressed. We put more buses on routes in Laxmi Nagar and Dhaula Kuan where problems were reported. There is no shortage of buses. The system just needs to be fine tuned. We expect situation will be fine in 1-2 days,’’ said Arvinder Singh Lovely, transport minister.

The transport department held a meeting with Bluelines operators and took a decision to give them alternative routes in rural areas in place of their existing permits for NDMC areas. But according to sources, barely 12 operators have come forward for this.

In all, Bluelines were totally phased out from 68 routes including 490, 544, 512, 413, 280, 281, 378, 391, 680, 309, 26, 729, 364, 501, 503, 621, 533, 502, 543, 611, 703, 500, 520, 580, 548, 540, 47, 894, 894A, 118, 306, 307, 301, 301A, 455, 415, 422, 403, 405, 405A, 409, 425, 425A, 425L, 429, 435, 435L, 438, 445, 449, 460, 433, 507, 507A, 473, 770, 781, 727, 411, 419A, 423A, 427, 440, 463, 469, 522A, 534, 450, 604, 610, 620, 615, 581, 511, 505.

Another 71 routes were curtailed and buses had to turn around from a point near Games zones. Such routes included 375, 536, 984A, 567, 442, 447, 529, 320, 340, 350, 951, 957, 966, 980, 784, 944, 19+19A, 39, 166, 910, 940, 943, 970, GL-90, 181, 410, MS(+)(-), TMS (+)(-) Mudrika route, 990, 990 Extra, 85, 261, 313, 851, 871, 308, 711, 724, 810, 874, 588, 740, 100, 172, 568, 569, 918, GL91, 335, 516, 517, 519, 523, 374, 317, 725, 623, 578, 790A, 214, 214A, 246, 901, 216, 350, 358, 448A, 479, 720, 753, 753A, 764, 893, 763L, 715.