Saturday, February 20, 2010

Have a ticket of CWG, travel free in DTC Buses

If you have a ticket for a Commonwealth Games event, you can enjoy a free ride in DTC buses that day.

The decision to let Games spectators travel free of cost in the DTC fleet was taken in a group of minister (GoM) meeting for the Commonwealth Games led by Union Urban Development Minister S.Jaipal Reddy on Friday evening.

The GoM, however, decid- ed to let the DMRC managing director E.Sreedharan chief to decide whether to extend the same facility on the Delhi Metro network too.

A DMRC spokesperson said he was unaware of the latest development and a decision will be taken as and when the issue will be brought to the DMRC.

Apart from ticketed spectators, the games volunteers and the workforce on duty will also be able to travel free on DTC buses during the 12-day event.

The DTC focal point bus service would also be integrated with the Delhi Metro. Buses would transport passengers to metro stations for venues with Metro connectivity.

This, said officials, is expected to reduce overall traffic on the road during the games.

Second Round up – Beggars to be out from Delhi

The Delhi government wants the streets clear of beggars for the Commonwealth Games in October. And it's come up with a plan: since most beggars are from outside the city, it wants them repatriated to their home states.

The government has sent letters to the chief secretaries of 10 states, asking them to take back the beggars.

"The letters have been sent... This will be done ahead of the Games," said Manoj Paridha, secretary, social welfare, Delhi government.

Though comprehensive data is missing, a sample survey in August 2009 of 11 shelters capacity 2,018 -- run by the Delhi government revealed that most outstation beggars came from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

That month, of the 1,518 beggars rounded up by the Delhi Police anti-begging squad, 1,099 were from outside the city.

Letters were sent on February 12 to West Bengal, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh too.

"Most of the beggars said Delhi gave them a better opportunity," said a social welfare department official.

"Even if they begged for two days, they earned for the entire week," he added.

"So far, we've received a response from only West Bengal. They have asked us for details of the beggars and what needs to be done," said the official.

"We will take a final decision after we get all the responses and get our survey done," he added.

"Why should we go back to our home state? We have been living here for many years," said Sushila (35), a native of Jodhpur who begs at the Tolstoy Marg-Janpath crossing.

"There is not even a drop of water to drink back home," she added.

"I was born here. We have not been told about any such order," said Noora (12), who hails from Bihar.

Not happy with the previous one, OC floats fresh tenders for caterers

With only eight months to go for the Commonwealth Games, the organizing committee is finally looking beyond venues and consistently missed deadlines. It has now floated a tender to look for caterers for not only the Games Village but also for the various venues, including Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. And if the initial response is anything to go by, the OC may finally be getting something right.

Lalit Bhanot, spokesperson for the OC, said, ‘‘Earlier last year, the OC had chosen a caterer for the Games Village. However, it was felt that with only one quotation coming in, it wasn’t the best decision to choose that firm. Instead, we preferred to float fresh tenders.’’

The decision, however, has drawn criticism from within the OC. Sources in the OC confirmed that a decision on selecting the firm as master caterer for the Games would only be taken in late March, after the technical and commercial bids were studied.

‘‘Thereafter, it will take another three-four months for the kitchens to be set up and the menus to be finalized. It’s a time consuming process,’’ said a senior OC official. With venue operations schedules going off-track due to construction delays, sources said setting up of the catering, a major component of the venue operations, needed to be in place. ‘‘It’s not just catering at the Games Village but also at sports venues and the designated accommodations that have been earmarked for the delegates. The logistics involved are huge,’’ added the source. The late decision to go in for floating fresh tenders, added sources, could only delay the function.

For Bhanot though, it doesn’t seem to be a worry. ‘‘The response to our re-tendering has been very good. By July, the logistics will be in place and this will give plenty of time to prepare for the Games,’’ added Bhanot.

Incidentally, the caterers for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne were chosen more than a year in advance. ‘‘There is time. It’s not that we are looking for food to be made for a thousand-strong contingent from tomorrow,’’ added Bhanot. While that may be debatable, the fact remains that OC’s efforts to get its accommodation plans in place have also been lagging behind. Neither the DDA flats nor the hotels are ready even as its venue planning refuses to get off the ground.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Environment Code for CW Games

To ensure that the Commonwealth Games does not leave behind carbon footprints, the Delhi government has released an ‘environment code’.

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit said initiatives such as plantation of saplings, waste management and energy efficiency were being taken to mitigate carbon footprints of the event.

The ‘Delhi Ecological Code’ aims at making the Games the first carbon consumption-neutral sporting event. Minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor, who is also chairman of the sub-committee on Green Games, hoped the environment-friendly measures would ‘‘leave a lasting legacy’’. ‘‘We must take the opportunity to create awareness for sustainable development,’’ he said.

On the ecological code, chairman of the Organizing Committee (OC) Suresh Kalmadi said the Games will be the ‘‘first carbon consumption-neutral Games’’ in the history of sporting events. Asked about the amount of carbon footprint to be generated by the event, an OC official said it will be over 1, 50,000 tonnes.

Satindra Bindra of UN Environment Programme, which will provide the OC with technical advice on implementation of the code, lauded the Delhi government for creating a benchmark in using green technologies in construction of the Thyagraj stadium.

‘‘Thyagraj stadium will set a global benchmark,’’ said Bindra. The UNEP will also put in place a mechanism to measure the carbon footprint generated by the event.

On the efforts being taken by the government to make the Games a green event, Dikshit said: ‘‘Our efforts include waste management, energy efficiency, water management, eco friendly transport, green procurement and many other initiatives.’’ Noting that the green cover in the national capital was increasing, she said over five lakh potted plants will be used during the event.

She said a plan was being finalized to convert wastes into gas, along with two gas based plants in Ghazipur and Wazirpur which will generate power from wastes.


Forest plantation

Thyagaraj Stadium as model green sporting venue

NDMC’s Commonwealth garden at Africa Avenue

Multiple sensitization and communication campaigns such as cleaner Delhi and energy conservation drives, Water Day celebration, and sustainable transport promotion campaign

DUAC and DMRC tussle over monument’s conservation

In a heated meeting at Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) on Wednesday over a parking lot coming up opposite Delhi High Court, the commission has asked DMRC to protect a Lodi-period monument at the site with the assistance of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and pay for its conservation.

DMRC denied that it was undertaking construction work at the site and said only ‘‘preparatory work’’ was on. But last week, members of DUAC visited the site and were unhappy with the heavy machinery around the 16th century monument and a 30-foot-deep pit. The members said the construction work had caused cracks in the monument, which DMRC denied.

While DMRC has obtained clearance for the project, it has not got a nod from the DUAC and is allegedly going ahead with construction work despite a stop work notice issued by NDMC after the monument was notified.

DMRC officials said they were asked by DUAC to pay for the conservation and upkeep of the monument. ‘‘DMRC is just a consultant for the project and not the owner, so we will discuss with our client (Delhi High Court bar association) about the amount, if any, to be paid, and by whom. In any case, if ASI wants us to pay for the upkeep of this monument then they have to write to us. DUAC is not the authority to decide this,’’ said a DMRC spokesperson.

Meanwhile, an official from the high court bar association, which is getting the parking lot work done, said: ‘‘DUAC has asked for clarifications which we will give to them in a day or two. But I don’t believe DUAC has anything to do with heritage and we have obtained all clearances.’’

However, the body that needs to take responsibility for the monument is still uncertain. The tomb is not protected by ASI, but the state department of archaeology intends to bring it under the umbrella. So, experts feel that the state archaeology department should look after the monument. DMRC had held a joint inspection with ASI on the monument some time back where the ASI made it clear that no harm should come to the structure as they gave permission to DMRC for the work with the site falling in the regulated zone of Purana Qila.

Cops to have a bird’s eye on Hockey World Cup

A day after terror group HuJI warned international players from coming to India to participate in sports events; Delhi Police went on an overdrive, planning to deploy 17,000 personnel ahead of the Hockey World Cup in city

Come February 28, Delhi Police will be battle-ready. After HuJI chief and Al-Qaida commander Ilyas Kashmiri issued a threat that no foreign player should participate in the Hockey World Cup, Commonwealth Shooting Championship and Commonwealth Games, Delhi Police has decided to deploy over 17,000 security personnel for the upcoming hockey event. Over 200 commandos and 1,000 paramilitary forces have been specially requisitioned by Delhi Police commissioner Y S Dadwal. ‘‘We had asked for more personnel and our plea has been granted,’’ said Dadwal.

Sources claimed the ministry of home affairs and Delhi Police will continue reviewing security for the next few days. ‘‘There are reports that Australia and New Zealand are reconsidering participation. We do not want to give them any reason to complain,’’ said the officer.

Both the home ministry and Delhi Police put up a brave face. While MHA termed the threats ‘‘mere rhetoric’’, the police claimed the World Cup was a ‘‘dress rehearsal’’ for the Games.

‘‘The World Cup will be a dress rehearsal ahead of the Commonwealth Games. The IPL matches are in jeopardy and the Commonwealth shooting event is not ideal to test our preparedness. Though the World Cup is not an event of the magnitude of Commonwealth Games, it will see participation from two of the biggest contingents expected for the Games — England and Australia, and they are apprehensive. We are hoping the hockey event will help them gain confidence for October,’’ said a senior officer at the police headquarters.

The police have chalked out an elaborate security and traffic plan for the event that will be held from February 28 to March 13 at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium near India Gate. Besides India, hockey majors like Pakistan, Germany, Britain and Australia will be among the 12 teams fighting for the trophy.

According to sources, the teams are likely to be lodged at Le Meridien. ‘‘The hotel will be sanitized and no one without a valid pass will be allowed to enter the premises. The 3-km journey to the stadium will be accorded the same security as is given during VIP movement,’’ said an officer. The police said the route will see patrols through the day.

The stadium will have a four-tier security. The height of the outer boundary wall has been increased. The first check will be near the India Gate entrance followed by one at the main entrance, the stadium block entrance and finally when seated. The stadium walls have been made stronger to ward off bullets and the entire arena will have commandos at strategic positions.

The police say among the new ‘‘arrangements’’ will be a fully equipped surveillance van with bomb disposal gadgets and fire-fighting gear. ‘‘These will be most important in securing the venue. We will also press into service a section of the newly trained sniffer dogs. All of them have been trained by BSF. The new ticketing-scanning system used successfully at Feroz shah Stadium earlier will be upgraded and used here. Latest Xray scanners for luggage and eateries for players will also be used at the ground and hotel,’’ added the officer.

Over 100 CCTVs are being installed in and around Dhyan Chand Stadium to keep track of spectator movement, the official said. While 75 CCTVs will be fixed cameras, the official said, 30 will be pan-tilt-zoom cameras with night vision and recording facility. Forty-four CCTVs will be installed on the perimeter, access control points and circulatory areas while 39 will be installed at ground floor level and main field of the stadium.

Another 15 CCTVs will be installed in the upper basement of the stadium while seven will be deployed at the heritage building where the monitoring station is being set up.

Hockey World Cup Feb 28 to March 13

Teams participating

12 - India, Pakistan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, England, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Argentina, South Africa


Over 250, including players and support staff

Delhi police personnel to be deployed 16,000

Paramilitary personnel 1,000

Commandos from NSG and paramilitary 200

3km stretch from hotel to stadium will be sanitized

Special security measures

Surveillance van, ticket scanner, latest PTZ and CCTV cameras


HuJI has warned foreign players from participating in the world cup

Gardeners to get specialized training

The unsung maalis of NDMC will soon turn into trained professionals with the civic body planning a school for them. This will be a part of several innovative measures in the run up to the Commonwealth Games to add to the splendor of green cover under its area.

School of Gardening

The civic body is setting up a ‘school’ for updating the skills of 1,100 gardeners through a variety of basic and advanced-level courses. NDMC plans to rope in botanists and horticulture experts from Pusa Institute, Forest Research Institute and National Botanical Research Institute to train the gardeners in plant preservation, nursery management, soil science etc.

Said Subhash Chandra, director, horticulture, ‘‘We have sent our gardeners for interactions with experts to different organizations in the past. But now we will have our own training ground. Gardeners will get a certificate on completion of the course.’’ The school may also open its doors to all those interested in gardening.

Commonwealth Park

A plant from each country participating in Commonwealth Games will be planted in this park coming up at Africa Avenue on a 2.5acre land. Work has already started on this project costing Rs 92.22 lakh and will be completed by August. The park will comprise lawns, wooded area and hedges, shrubs, flowerbeds, Lilypond, footpath, benches and other essential amenities for visitors. NDMC chairperson Parimal Rai said: ‘‘We have written to the Organizing Committee to arrange plants from each of the 72 countries. The plant should survive Delhi’s climatic condition or else we will ask participating countries to suggest a plant which is locally available.’’

OC spokesperson Lalit Bhanot said: ‘‘Members of participating countries are coming to Delhi for a conference on March 8. We have requested them to bring a plant with them.’’

Bougainvillea Garden

To add a dash of color to its greens, NDMC has proposed to set up a garden full of different types of Bougainvillea in Chanakyapuri near the Singapore Embassy. Bougainvillea, which is believed to have its origins in Brazil, will certainly add to NDMC’s landscape. ‘‘We will try and procure as many varieties of Bougainvillea as possible. We are also thinking of contacting the Bougainvillea Society of India for setting up the garden,’’ said Chandra.

Flower Park at Nehru Park

A section of Nehru Park will be developed into a flower park which will have seasonal flowering plants of winter, spring, summer and autumn as well as perennial flowering shrubs. Work has already started on this project.

NDMC Overcomes from Deficit to surplus

It seems the New Delhi Municipal Council is also on a path of financial consolidation. As compared to a deficit of Rs 185 crore last year, the civic body is expected to show slight surplus in the financial year 2010-11. It’s income budget estimates for 2010-11 is Rs 1931.81 crore while its expenditure will be Rs 1931.14 crore, likely to result in a Rs 67 lakh gain. The civic body’s income last year stood at Rs 1566.8 crore while it expenditure rose to Rs 1752.4 crore.

Presenting the NDMC’s annual budget on Wednesday, Chairperson Parimal Rai said: ‘‘We have noticed that capital expenditure has been rising over the years. It has gone up from Rs 228.81 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 605.06 crore in revised estimates for this year and is projected to increase further to Rs 704.06 crore in 2010-11. A major chunk of our expenditure is towards creating permanent assets.’’

A major source of revenue generation for NDMC in 2010-11 will be electricity which is likely to account for 31% of the total receipts. This despite the fact that the civic body hasn’t increased it revenue for 7 years. NDMC is likely to spend 30% of its funds on electricity which includes upgradation of sub-stations and investment in ‘green’ electricity.

It promises to spend 22% of the funds on road and public works projects. Residents in its area, who do not pay their outstanding electricity and water dues by March 31, will have to face disconnection of services. According to an official, they are yet to get Rs 80 crore as outstanding dues from subscribers.

Meanwhile, NDMC has already issued notices to cellular service providers who have installed towers over school buildings and hospitals. It has given them a week’s notice to remove the towers. According to NDMC, there are around 20-30 such towers in its area.

NDMC is also planning to shift focus to horticulture. After procuring a tree ambulance, NDMC is now getting a dual purpose vehicle which will double up as a tree-washer and a fire-douser.

NDMC Budget out New Promises for Games

NDMC presents annual budget, renews its focus on completing Commonwealth Games projects before the event starts in October. Civic body claims it will finish all Games-related work by Aug but some projects may be delayed till Oct when CWG starts

There’s no need to be jittery. That’s what New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) seems to be telling Delhites about the Commonwealth Games projects. On Wednesday, the civic body while announcing its annual budget claimed that it will complete all its Games-related projects by August.

However, redevelopment plan of CP that includes renovation of subways and service corridors is likely to be completed only by October, according to the engineering department. Some other NDMC Games projects, including street scaping work, multi-level parking, are also likely to get delayed to October, the month when the sporting extravaganza will be on in full swing.

NDMC chairman Parimal Rai said: ‘‘The Games has given us an opportunity to upgrade city infrastructure. The projects will be completed well in time. The deadline for completion of Commonwealth projects is August.’’

Stadium Renovation

Talaktora Stadium will be inaugurated by February 24. Talkatora Indoor Stadium, which is the competition venue for boxing, will have a new sports facility block with an underground parking for 300 cars. The block is adjacent to the existing stadium and has been connected to it by a tunnel. The total cost of the project is likely to be Rs 80 crore. The NDMC has also been asked to take care of the monkey menace around the stadium before October to prevent any embarrassment to the organizers.

Besides this, work is on in full swing at Shivaji Stadium, which is expected to be ready by May. The stadium will be used as a training venue for hockey. A sports facility block will be constructed with a two-level underground parking for 1,200 cars. A total of Rs 46 Crore has been spent on this project so far.

CP Redevelopment

Though only 30% of facade restoration work has been completed, NDMC expects to complete the work by June. The project worth Rs 253.78 crore has been cleared for funding by ministry of urban development under JNNURM. As far as construction of eight subways are concerned, NDMC hopes to throw open at least six before the Games. The service ducting work in the Middle Circle is also on but services will be shifted underground only after the Games.

Street scaping work

The redevelopment of Hanuman Mandir Vatika on Baba Kharak Singh (BKS) Marg is almost complete. The street scaping on Tees January Marg, Sardar Patel Marg, BKS Marg, Mother Teresa Crescent, Mandir Marg, Old R K Ashram Marg, Park Street, Udyan Marg, Brig Hoshiyar Singh Marg, Aurbindo Marg and Subramaniam Bharti Marg is likely to be completed by September. Foot-over-bridges, subways, underpasses will also be made along these stretches.

Besides this, road signages are being installed along 28 corridors and all signages will be put up by June. The quality of roads is also being improved in a phased manner.

Tracking 2010

New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) claims that all its Commonwealth Games related projects will be over by August Talkatora Indoor Stadium, which is the competition venue for boxing, will be inaugurated by Feb 24 Shivaji Stadium, which is the training venue for hockey, will be ready by May CP redevelopment is expected to be completed by September.

Of the 8 subways under construction, 6 will be completed by October Construction of multi-level parking lots at Sarojini Nagar and Baba Kharak Singh Marg is likely to be ready before the Games. However, the parking site at Kasturba Gandhi Marg may not meet the Games deadline Street scaping work on 9 roads, including construction of foot-over-bridges, underpasses and subways, will be completed by September Road signages are being installed by NDMC along 28 major corridors in its area and work is likely to be completed by June

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Intelligent Traffic Signals Project to Miss Games Deadline

The showcase Intelligent Traffic Signals (ITS) project of Delhi Traffic Police, touted as the single-point solution for management of traffic during the Commonwealth Games, is not going to come up before October as the police are yet to finalize the specifications of the tender. Traffic during the Games will be managed with make-shift arrangements put in place, say officials, as the centralized control room, intelligent signals, enforcement gadgetry and Variable Message Sign (VMS) boards won’t be in place before next year.

To manage traffic before the games, the traffic police was planning ITS on all 87 corridors which will be used by players and officials. The plan was to replace signal technology at 302 intersections to reduce congestion on the stretches and track the movement of vehicles through a centralized control room.

‘‘Right now some discussions are going on with RITES, which is the consultant for the project. It will take around one more month before we float the tender,’’ said a senior traffic police official. After that, the process for finalizing the tender will take well over two months as the cops will hold pre-bid meetings to clear doubts, carry out a technical evaluation of bidders and have a financial bid.

The tender document gives the bidder about 18 months from the day the contract is awarded to get the systems in place. With barely eight months left for the games, it is almost impossible to have the system running on the games routes, as planned earlier.

The police are already looking for alternatives. ‘‘We are planning to put up some temporary cameras and equipment on key roads for the Games. If the tender gets finalized in time, some components of the ITS proposal may be put up too. But traffic management will happen the way it does at present. The only difference is that one lane will be reserved for Games traffic,’’ the official added.

This has come as a major setback for the police as intelligent signals would have ensured more efficient management of traffic, which is going to be a major concern during the Games. Traffic police feels that ITS is something that can solve problem of congestion on Delhi’s roads.

Intelligent signals take a volume count of the number of vehicles at an intersection and automatically adjust the available time for green signal on the basis of changing traffic demand. An area comprised of a group of traffic signals is selected where vehicle detectors are put up on all approach lanes to each intersection. The detectors assess the volume of traffic waiting at an intersection and also the number of vehicles headed towards it. The data is sent to a central server, a master computer, which in turn is connected to the signal controllers or the brains of each of the traffic signals.

The central computer uses electronic signals to instruct the intelligent signal controllers to switch on green light on the side with the heaviest stream of traffic,
thereby facilitating continuous flow of traffic in that direction. The existing signaling system works on signal cycles, where fixed time frames are pre-set for change of signals irrespective of real-time assessment of traffic.

According to the plan that envisages a complete overhaul of traffic management in the city, in addition to ITS for better traffic management, the police are also planning to fit video cameras on selected roads. The cameras will relay real-time images of roads to a centralized control room, and give auto alerts in case of jams caused by accidents or vehicular breakdowns.

There will also be a red-light speed cameras and Automatic Number Plate Recognizer (ANPR) cameras that will read number plates of vehicles flouting traffic norms and send the data for generation of challan slips. Variable Message Sign (VMS) boards, meanwhile, will give road users information about road conditions on their route.

Hotel Rooms missing deadline, need 4 more months to complete

Despite the claims that preparations for the Commonwealth Games are on course, nearly 30% of hotel rooms are unlikely to be completed by the deadline of March 31.

Land owning agencies including Delhi Development Authority (DDA) which needs to build 1,836 rooms have now sought a reprieve of four months.

To make matters worse, DDA has also asked that the deadline for its flats being refurbished by India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) be extended from March-end to May while only an estimated 50% bed and breakfast (B&B) establishments have come up so far.

Tourism secretary Sujit Banerjee said, ‘‘The agencies have told us that of the 10,540 rooms, 3,233 rooms can only be completed by July.”

Pushed to the wall, the ministry had no choice but to agree for an extension in a recent review held by the ministry.

The government is treading a fine line in meeting its target of 40,000 rooms for Games’ visitors. The tourism ministry had estimated a demand for 40,000 rooms of which 10,161 rooms are already available in Delhi and NCR. Officials had planned to construct at least 10,000 additional hotel rooms.

But a combination of reasons, including the economic slump and the multiple clearances, has put a spanner in the works.

The progress made by land owning agencies like DDA in construction of new hotel rooms has been rather modest. They have completed only 403 of the estimated 2,239 rooms that were expected. Haryana is a tad better with 5,765 rooms completed out of the total 6,766 rooms expected from it.

Uttar Pradesh has the best track record so far, completing 1,139 rooms of the total of 1,535 rooms expected.

The hospitality industry is considered a high risk investment and there is a relatively long period before a star rated hotel manages to break even. With agencies like DMRC, DIAL and railways unable to construct hotels in time for the Games, the government is now banking heavily on the bed and breakfast establishments (3,000), guesthouses (11,912 rooms) and 5,500 DDA flats in Vasant Kunj and Jasola.

The tourism ministry has also written to the finance ministry asking for tax benefits — introduced in the 2008 budget for investments in hotels — to extend the deadline from March to July-end.

Another cause for concern is the B&Bs that have totaled about 1,610 instead of the target of 3,000.

Sources in the ministry said that unless Delhi government hastened the progress on facilitating more B&Bs, the Games preparation could be in deep trouble.

Schools to remain close for 17 days during Games

As a step towards easing traffic during the Commonwealth Games in October, the Delhi government has decided to give schools both government and private a 17-day autumn break this year. To compensate for the loss of working days, the summer break will be shortened to 49 days instead of the usual 61.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting of the Delhi government after a recently released report by the National Capital Regional Planning Board (NCRPB) said commuting to and from schools and colleges constitutes the third highest transport volume on city roads. An advisory on this has been sent to schools.

There are unconfirmed inputs that college timings could also be altered during the Games and even big corporate houses may be approached to keep flexible timings.

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday said that the decision had been taken to ‘‘overcome traffic congestion’’ during the Games and ensure ‘‘smooth hosting’’ of the mega sporting event in the capital.

‘‘It has been decided to extend the autumn break from eight to 17 days while the summer vacation has been reduced,’’ the chief minister said.

The autumn break will be from October 1 to October 17. The capital will host the Games from October 3 to 14th of the month. Schools will open after Vijaydashami, which falls on October 17.

New Zealand Shooting Federation happy with Delhi security

The New Zealand Shooting Federation is comfortable with security arrangements in place for this week's Commonwealth championships in Delhi despite fresh terrorist fears in India.

New Zealand has five shooters and a manger attending the championships. They were due to arrive in Delhi later today (Tuesday).

India's government has launched an urgent review of security for sports events in the wake of a weekend bomb blast which appeared to target foreigners. Nine people died in the blast in a coffee house favored by foreigners in the Pune, near Mumbai.

That has heightened ongoing concerns about October's Commonwealth Games.

The NZSF said they were happy with arrangements made by local officials for the security of their team and the championships which run from February 17-27.

"We are reliant on what India supplies us but we understand it's going to be pretty structured," said Gavin Paton of the NZSF.

They had consulted with the ministry of foreign affairs and looked at Australian advisories.

Paton expected security to be similar to that planned for next week's World Cup hockey tournament in Delhi that has armed guards aboard team buses that will also have police escorts between hotels and venues.

It is understood security arrangement for the coming IPL cricket extravaganza that will involve several leading New Zealand players will be at an unprecedented level.

Importantly the Kiwi shooters also have former NZSF chief executive Graham Hudson on the ground in Delhi where he is helping with the shooting structure for the looming games.

"Graham is pretty comfortable with everything. If there were any problems he would have contacted us," Paton said.

"We have got to stay positive ... it's pretty much a world-wide thing at the moment. I think you still have to go and do things."

The Commonwealth championships will be a good test of the facilities for the games although there has already been a setback with the fullbore range not yet completed, hence New Zealand's small team.

New Zealand sent 25 shooters to the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne but there could be half that number in Delhi.

Performance criteria has been raised and with limited funding it is understood some shooters may bypass the Commonwealth Games for better competition at a World Cup event in Sydney next month.

NZSF will sort through their games candidates at the end of March with a July 31 cut-off for the New Zealand Olympic Committee to ratify qualifiers for Delhi.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Games flats may be sold in new scheme

Around 3,500 flats being built in Vasant Kunj and Jasola for the Commonwealth Games are close to completion and will be in the market later this year. These flats, earmarked for the Games, will yield more than 5,000 rooms for accommodation of sports delegates and officials. Furnished by ITDC, the flats come with modern fittings and facilities. DDA officials, however, said the agency hadn’t decided if the flats would thereafter be sold with the renovated fittings.

According to DDA officials, more than 15,000 flats are going to be ready this year and could well be the biggest housing scheme to come from the DDA if the flats are all put in the market in toto. However, officials admitted that chances of that happening were small, as the 3,500 flats that are coming up in Vasant Kunj and Jasola would only be available after the Games. ‘‘The flats may be sold as part of a separate scheme, as these would be available much later whereas the DDA is hoping to launch a housing scheme earlier than that,’’ said a DDA official.

The agency also has plans to build 42,000 flats over the next four years. For this year though, it plans to complete 15,000 flats, with 5,000 to be commissioned and built by March.

3500 Games flats ready for sale by year end

For a city severely short on housing units, there will be good news by the year-end. Around 3,500 flats being built in Vasant Kunj and Jasola for the Commonwealth Games are close to completion and will be in the market later this year. This is in addition to the existing stock of 15,000 flats to be ready in 2010, officials said.

‘‘The flats are going to be part of the stock that will be disposed of by DDA, though the mode of disposal hasn’t been decided yet,’’ said DDA spokesperson Neemo Dhar.

Officials said the flats, which fall under various categories including low, medium and high income groups, are expected to be ready by March-April this year.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Going Green for Games

Delhi will be going green this October. In an effort to reduce the carbon footprints of the Commonwealth Games 2010, the organizing committee (OC) is planning a number of initiatives to make the Games ecofriendly.

Said TS Darbari, joint director general, OC, ‘‘We realize that the carbon footprint of the Commonwealth Games will be large, and have taken steps to ensure that the Games still remain green.’’ From sensitization to making the venues energy-efficient, a number of steps have been drawn up. And while some are novel — like using the construction debris as part of the construction at venues, others are original, to say the least. Said Darbari, ‘‘As part of the awareness campaign, we are planning to distribute CFL lights before the Games to people.’’

The recommendations given by advisor to OC’s sub-committee on green Games, TERI chief RK Pachauri, are equally interesting: planting trees along the railway tracks across the country, building biowalls in the venues and converting the Safdarjung airport into a city forest.

On paper though, the OC’s plans are more conventional. ‘‘Most of the competition venues will be energy efficient, and have been built keeping in mind that 30% of the sites will be landscaped,’’ said Darbari. That’s not all.
Most venues will have CFL and TL5 lights and LED fixtures while for construction purposes, fly-ash bricks have been used.

‘‘There are five major areas in which we plan to go green: land (the venue construction and operations), energy, water, waste management and sensitization,’’ added Darbari. According to OC, even the construction debris, which is usually just shifted to a landfill, has been reused in leveling or pavement blocks in many of the Games venues. The venues will also have waste management facilities, with the OC recommending the civic agencies to stick to green methods while also installing waste water treatment plants at many sites. The OC has tied-up with the IMD and the ministry of earth and sciences to monitor air pollution during the Games.

Added Darbari, ‘‘The OC has the UN’s environment programme on board as a partner in the green initiative. We are going to ensure the venues use CNG gensets.’’ Awareness campaigns also form a large part of the initiative. Besides the campaigns run by the government, the OC plans to launch a ‘‘clean Delhi drive’’. It has signed an undertaking with the ministry of environment and forestry to plant 3.5 lakh saplings.

According to OC officials, the MoEF will be planting bio-diverse saplings along the route of the Queens Baton Relay, which will be indigenous to the regions through which the Baton will pass.

Sikh group opposing Tytler on CWG panel

The presence of former Delhi MP Jagdish Tytler as the chairman of the sub-committee on volunteers for the Commonwealth Games has come under severe attack from the 1984 Riots Action Committee constituted by Shiromani Gurdwara Committee Amritsar to take up the issues concerning the victims.

The 1984 Riots Action Committee on Tuesday unleashed an attack on the Centre for appointing Tytler, who is still under the cloud of the 1984 riots, as the chairman of the subcommittee on volunteers for the Commonwealth Games.

‘‘On one hand PM Manmohan Singh has been promising that the guilty will be punished for the excesses during the 1984 riots and on the other hand the government is appointing Tytler as chairman of a subcommittee for the Games,’’ Manjeet Singh G K, member of the 1984 Riots Action Committee said at a press meet on Tuesday.

Haryana claim of reviving its lakes before Games hollow

A year after Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda promised revival of Badhkal and Surajkund lakes before the Commonwealth Games; it now seems that the two water bodies may not be ready to attract tourists during the sporting extravaganza.

So far, no measure has been initiated to fill the two lakes and no wonder the officials are praying to the rain gods. ‘‘We can bring some water to the two lakes but we have no idea of the lakes’ capacity. Obviously, the rain will bring some water,’’ said a senior irrigation department official.

On Tuesday, the government hinted at a long-term plan for permanent revival of the two water bodies. ‘‘The NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) officials said that they might approach consultants, who plan revival of parched lakes,’’ said chief secretary Urvashi Gulati.

She said Haryana government would like NCRPB to include the plan of reviving these two water bodies in its tourism plan for the NCR. ‘‘We talked of long-term solution. Blockage of rainwater catchments areas around these lakes and mining had resulted in drying up of the lakes. We are serious about the issue,’’ Gulati added. NCRPB member secretary Noor Mohammed also said that some international funding agencies also provide assistance for revival of water bodies.

Meanwhile, government officials also said that intra-city bus service in Gurgaon would commence soon on public private partnership mode and as many as 400 buses would ply in Gurgaon in the next two years and 600 in the next four years. Government also claimed that 250 CCTV cameras were being installed in Gurgaon and 140 in Faridabad to improve security in these cities.

Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010 will have new traffic system

The Delhi police are preparing a new and better traffic circulation system during the Commonwealth Games, Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi, has said.

According to her, smooth transportation of sportspersons to various sporting venues or stadia will be the most important aspect of the traffic plan for the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Delhi in October 2010.

The Chief Minister told reporters on the sidelines of a symposium on public transport, held in New Delhi that a traffic plan for the Commonwealth Games is being worked out by the Delhi police. Since Delhi has the advantage of being round, there are a number of alternative routes available, she said.

According to R K Verma, Transport Commissioner of Delhi, the transport system is being bettered gradually. Before the Commonwealth Games, the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) will run 10,000 buses. There will be more Metro lines, R K Verma said, adding that the government hopes that more people will shift from using cars to using public transport. The focus of the traffic improvement will be on the effective use of the existing space and its potential.

In another important development regarding improving the traffic system for the Commonwealth Games 2010, Delhi police are likely to introduce soon the “e-payment’ of traffic challans. This means that a traffic violator can punch his credit card or debit card number on the website

The system – named ‘e-challaning’ – is said to be based on the method adopted by the traffic police of Bangalore. In Bangalore, a traffic violator can pay online to a notice, by just typing in the notice number, the registration number of the vehicle and give his email address, along with the details of his credit card or debit card.

Ajay Chadha, Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Delhi, said that, in the e-challaning method, notices will be linked to the central system.

Besides, it has been proposed to provide police officers on beat duty on Delhi roads with Blackberry mobile phones, which will help them, keep a tab on habitual traffic offenders.
The Delhi traffic police have already begun the process of selecting the company best suited for implementing the e-challaning system.

Ajay Chadha said that, in order to familiarise the public with the traffic circulation system for the Commonwealth Games, the traffic police will barricade and restrict movement of traffic on certain roads. The trial runs, which are likely to start in the middle of February 2010, will continue till the Commonwealth Games starts.

The first trial is expected to be held on the route that the athletes will take from the Indira Gandhi International Airport to reach the Games Village, located in East Delhi.

According to sources, the Delhi traffic police could conduct the trials during the hockey World Cup – to be held from February 28, 2010, to March 13, 2010 – on the route that the hockey teams will take to reach Dhyan Chand Stadium, near India Gate, from Le Meridian Hotel. This plan be will be later implemented in the stretch between the Games Village and Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which is the venue for the opening ceremony and the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, as well as other sporting venues.

Haryana Demands Rs.347 crore for CWG security

Haryana wants the central government to foot a bill of Rs.347 crore as the state makes security arrangements in the national capital region (NCR) for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2010 to be held in New Delhi in October.

State government officials said that Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has urged the centre to provide one-time special grant of Rs.312 crore for strengthening the police infrastructure in the NCR.

In addition, an amount of Rs.35.41 crore has been sought by Haryana for achieving integration of infrastructure and security related technology for the Commonwealth Games.

“The proposal for the one-time grant and security needs for the Games have already been submitted to the central government,” the officials said.

The CWG will be held in New Delhi from Oct 3 to 14 this year.

The Haryana government has also sought mega city status for the NCR towns of Gurgaon and Faridabad.

Haryana surrounds Delhi on three sides of the NCR. The state is making available nearly 7,000 rooms in hotels and guest houses for visitors coming forth Games.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Anju Bobby George not participating in CW Games

India’s medal chances in athletics at the Commonwealth Games in October received a blow on Friday with ace long jumper Anju Bobby George pulling out of the mega event.

The former World No.4, who has not competed since the Beijing Olympics, told here that she will be skipping the whole of 2010 and hopes to return to action early next year. “I wanted to take part and win before my fans in Delhi. But I won’t be able to compete due to personal reasons and I have already informed the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) officials,” Anju said without revealing the details.

Asked if fans would be able to see her back in action again, as a comeback from a two-and-a-half-year sabbatical is difficult, Anju was very confident about her return. “No way I am quitting the sport as I still feel I can compete in one more Olympics. I’ll try and be ready for the London Games in 2012. And If I compete there, I’ll surely not go as a spectator. I’m sure with all my experience and with the help of Bobby (husband and coach), I can make a comeback,” the 32-year-old Customs officer added.

Anju first hogged the limelight winning the bronze medal in the CWG in 2002 and then in the Busan Asian Games where she clinched the gold. The next year she created history in Paris becoming the first Indian to win a medal (bronze) in the World Athletics championship. In 2005, Anju was again basking in glory after winning the silver in the World Athletics final, an achievement rated by many as the high point of her career.

However, Anju’s best performance came in the Athens Olympics when she led the field in the first round after touching down at 6.83 meters. In the end, the Indian couldn’t improve further and settled for the sixth place.

Now a Savior for ill trees in Delhi

Over one lakh trees in the heart of the Capital now have a tree ambulance to tend to them. The ambulance facility, launched by New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), was inaugurated by chief minister Shiela Dikshit yesterday on 5th of february.

About 10,000 of the one-lakh odd trees in NDMC areas are classified as avenue trees, which form an integral part of Delhi’s natural heritage. In addition, these trees serve as important environmental and ecological reserves. ‘‘Most of these trees were planted during the development of New Delhi as a city in the early part of the 20th century. All the avenue trees are indigenous trees of Delhi region,’’ said an NDMC official.

The trees require proper care and attention. ‘‘We carry out regular trimming and removal of decayed branches of all trees to give them a healthy life. The ambulance will aid such activities,’’ the official added. The tree ambulance is fitted with water tanks with a 5.5 thousand liter capacity, equipments like chain saw, tree pruner, sprayer, ladder and water pumps. The vehicles, which have warning lights and sirens, have come up at a cost of Rs 1.4 lakh.

The ambulance will have a six member team, called plant protection cell, who will be imparted a one-month training by the Forest Research Institute of India, Dehradun. If a tree is found infected or diseased, it will be treated with pesticide sprays. Said an official: ‘‘If any part of the tree is found to be decaying, that part will be removed and the cavity will be filled. Sixty members of the horticulture department will be trained for this.’’

Speaking on the occasion, Dikshit said: ‘‘Other civic bodies should follow suit. We will try getting more funding for such ambulances under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).’’ A survey carried out by Forest Research Institute, Dehradun revealed that there are several ‘sick’ trees in NDMC areas, which can be salvaged with proper treatment. The idea of a tree ambulance was devised to treat these trees.

DDMA set up Disaster cells ahead of Games

Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has moved one step ahead to set up a disaster cell months before CWG.

The Commonwealth Games may be some months away but the Delhi disaster management authority (DDMA) has already started making arrangements. The DDMA is setting up a 24-hour control room in all its nine districts, with a central control room that is already operational. The idea is to groom a crack team of volunteers who can manage any disaster situation, said sources.

The east district was one of the first to start its control room from earlier this month, running 24x7. The control room will work in three regular shifts of eight hours each and will be operated by two civil defense volunteers.

‘‘The purpose of the control room is simple. With it, we will be able to fulfill various objectives like reduction in response time, strengthening of the incident command system as well as increase in co-ordination and communication at the sub-divisional level,’’ added the source.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

DTC Top Guns to Monitor Their Services Periodically

For once, the babus are going to get a taste of their own medicine. In a novel initiative, the DTC brass will commute to work and back in their own buses on two designated days every month. The idea is for them to travel in buses to understand first hand the problems faced by regular commuters and initiate corrective action accordingly.

The corporation has made it compulsory for all senior officials to take a DTC bus to work on the second and last Monday of the month. The officials, including DTC chairman and managing director Naresh Kumar, will not use their staff cars on those days. ‘‘We have now got better buses but there are certain operational problems. Maintenance of buses is another issue. When all officials involved in the decision-making process at DTC travel in buses on a regular basis, the quality of service will automatically improve,’’ said a senior DTC official.

The decision is going to impact more than 200 officials who have been given staff cars by the government. Before the Commonwealth Games in October this year, DTC is striving to better its image and services. The corporation is going to get about 3,125 new low-floor buses. Bus shelters are also being given a facelift. But there have been regular complaints from commuters about the reliability and efficiency of buses and staff. Buses don’t follow timetables, run behind schedule and don’t stop at designated bus stops.

A slew of other measures are also being planned to improve service, like creating a dedicated fleet of buses to be run only on school routes. The decision was taken after it was observed that some DTC buses which had been put on school routes tended to withdraw from service earlier than scheduled, leaving their routes midway. At present, about 1,300 DTC buses ferry students of nearly 700 city schools.

DTC has also started imparting driving and behavior training to its drivers on simulators at Automobile Association of Upper India

250 sleek bus Q-shelters to come up near CWG venues

Aesthetic and sleek bus Q-shelters will soon dot the routes in and around Commonwealth Games venues with the Delhi Cabinet today approving construction of at least 250 such structures ahead of the mega sports event in October.

"DIMTS will take up construction of 250 modern bus Q-shelters on PPP basis on the same model as adopted in NDMC area and further take up construction of 800 more at the lowest rates received through open tenders," Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here.

The total cost of construction is expected to be around Rs 96 crore, for which a request is being made to the Urban Development Ministry for sanctioning at least half the amount out of Delhi Development Fund.

Due to non availability of low floor buses Govt allowed Semi low-floor buses

At a time when the government is expediting the Blueline phase-out process and ordering removal of all Blueline from south Delhi from next month, Delhites can expect relief on ground too. The government, on Wednesday, took a decision to allow semi-low floor and standard floor buses on city routes. This, in effect, means that the first cluster of the corporatization scheme which was initiated as a replacement of Blueline will get operational before the Commonwealth Games.

Even though the cluster had been awarded to a private operator last year, there was no certainty on when the buses would start plying as the only two manufacturers supplying low floor buses in the country are anyway stretched with the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) order for 3,125 low floor buses. The government’s decision now gives the operator the choice of bringing in semi-low floor buses on the new routes, which match the specifications cleared by the Centre for buses being procured under the JNNURM scheme, for Delhi as well.

To ensure comfort and riding quality, the government has put a clause that DTC can only get low floor buses.

‘‘As per the final transportation plan for Delhi, DTC will run 60 percent of buses on all routes. We have taken a decision that the DTC fleet will only have low-floor buses. But the private corporate running buses on the 16 clusters can now bring in semi-low floor buses too,’’ said transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely. ‘

The rest of the parameters like GPS, control rooms, etc will remain the same. The semi-low floor buses cost much lesser too making the running of clusters more lucrative for private players.

Lovely added that the first cluster will now get operational before the Commonwealth Games, which essentially means that south Delhi will have an additional 300-odd buses plying on the roads. The government is in the process of allotting the other 15 clusters too.

Meanwhile, chief minister Shiela Dikshit announced on Wednesday that Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) will take up construction of 250 modern bus shelters on Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, like the one adopted by New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and of another 800 bus shelters through a tendering process at a total cost of Rs 96 crore.

The government has put in a request with the Union Ministry of Urban Development to sanction at least half the amount from the Delhi Development Fund. The new bus shelters will come up on routes leading to Commonwealth Games venues.