Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Second Carriageway of Ghazipur flyover to be Opened Today

After an over two year wait, Ghazipur crossing will become completely signal-free from Tuesday with the three-level grade separator at the junction becoming completely operational. PWD officials said the second carriageway of the flyover — for traffic moving from Delhi to Ghaziabad will be opened to the public on Tuesday.

‘‘With the stretch becoming operational, the drive to Ghaziabad during peak hours will become smoother. We have completed all major works at the crossing. Minor finishing works will continue,’’ said project manager Deepak Panwar.

The other carriageway of the flyover Ghaziabad to Delhi was thrown open to the public last week. The 635 meter-long, dual-carriageway underpass connecting Anand Vihar to Kalyanpuri has already been made operational. PWD officials said the drive on the stretch will be smoother by the end of this month with the completion of a 6-lane flyover on Road No 56.

Once completed, the stretch will house 14 lanes. Officials said there is a provision to add two more lanes to the stretch since a BRT corridor has been planned along it. For safe passage of pedestrians, PWD will build three foot-over bridge (FOBs) with escalators — two on NH-24 and one on Road No 56.

The 770 meter-long, eight lane elevated stretch over Ghazipur crossing was the second major road project undertaken by PWD to improve connectivity between Delhi and Ghaziabad. The flyover at Apsara border connecting the two cities is already operational. Ghazipur crossing is a critical junction for lakh of commuters traveling between Ghaziabad and Delhi. ‘‘Though there was some relief for straight-moving traffic after PWD reworked the traffic circulation plan, the opening of both carriageways of the flyover will make the drive hassle-free. We will still be made to wait at the Mayur Vihar Phase II crossing. But that’s not a major one,’’ said Radhamohan, a daily commuter.

Ghazipur crossing is one of the busiest junctions in east Delhi. As per earlier estimates, nearly 13,000 vehicles use the crossing during peak hours, as does traffic entering Delhi from other states.

Manufacturers Cited Shift In Emission Norm; Deadline for Bus Delivery to be Extended

The new fleet of over 600 low-floor buses that was scheduled to be in by June will now be delivered only by end August. The Delhi government on Monday extended the deadline for the manufacturers to deliver 625 buses to August 31.

The manufacturers Tata and Ashok Leyland cited the shift from Euro III to Euro IV norms as the reason for the delay. The Delhi cabinet, led by chief minister Sheila Dikshit, discussed the issue and studied the proposal submitted by the two companies. After deliberations, the cabinet also decided that the penalty for not meeting the June deadline will not be levied.

In the first round, 625 low-floor buses were brought in. This was followed by an order for another 2,500 buses. Of these, 1,800 buses are already in use while the rest are being added from time to time. Under the contract, the state government could place an order for 25% more buses and hence 625 more buses were sought by June.

With the June deadline over, the manufacturers were asked to explain the delay. On Monday, a proposal from the manufacturer citing the reasons for the delay and the plan of action for the coming months in the context of delivery of the 625 buses was presented before the cabinet for review and approval.

Radio Security System Trials for CWG to Start Soon

Three months to go for the Commonwealth Games and the Delhi government is finally getting around to putting one of its most anticipated security systems on trial.

According to officials in the government, the much talked about Tetra a radio based secured communications system goes on trial from July. The trials will initially be conducted by the Delhi government and later, other agencies will join in. The system is the backbone of the communications network that will be in place during the Games, making for a seamless patchwork of communication between 18 agencies, including the Delhi police, the Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games, NDMC, MCD, the fire department, and a host of other agencies involved in management of the Games.

The system will also address the security of athletes, delegates and all other VVIPs who will be in the city at the time.

This is the first time the government will be conducting trials of the system. According to sources, Tetra was also used during the Beijing Olympic Games, where the system crashed. However, Delhi government officials dismiss the incident, claiming measures have been taken to tackle such problems.

Said Delhi government IT secretary Savitur Prasad, ‘‘The magnitude of the event is different. Here, the Commonwealth Games are not on the same scale as the Olympics. Besides, we have already addressed the issue, so that redundancy has been built into the system. We don’t anticipate the same problems as Beijing had.’’

Sources say the trials are an important part of the process, as adequate exposure to TETRA is needed to use the system properly, and to anticipate any problems that may crop up. The system, which the Delhi government acquired for Rs 100 crore, will be used extensively during the Games as a secured communications network for security and administrative agencies. Around 10,000 handsets have already been commissioned for use.

Sources said base stations have been set up, and a full-scale trial will be conducted soon in which all concerned agencies will participate.

The handsets will be utilized in various ways, including, for instance, on buses used to ferry athletes or VIPs or to pass on information about security details.

Officials admit the trials are important, especially to address any real-time issues that may crop up. Prasad however insisted that the system was ready to be implemented. ‘‘It’s a security issue, so we wouldn’t like to divulge details. However, I will say the system has been set up and will be operational soon.’’

CM Assures that Monsoon will not affect Games work

With the rains approaching Delhi, chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday dismissed apprehensions that this might affect the preparations for Commonwealth Games. She also assured that the capital will not face any water or power shortage during the event.

Dikshit was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a conference on ‘Cost-effective Sustainable Sanitation’, organized by NGO Plan India and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Institute along with UNICEF and Rural Development Ministry.

‘‘No, no. We are aware of the fact that there will be rain, but we have done a lot of work already,’’ responding to a query whether rain will hit the Games-related infrastructure work.

Earlier, delivering the keynote address at the meet, Dikshit said to combat the problem of waste removal in big cities like Delhi, there was a need to adopt the principle of ‘‘use, re-use and recycle’’.

She referred to a project launched by her government recently to produce power from waste as well as the Yamuna interceptor scheme under which sludge removal will be undertaken to make the river water cleaner. Dikshit also said while the job of the municipalities is to ensure that cities remain clean, educating people about changing their ‘‘habit’’ is also a key factor.

‘‘If people do not throw garbage on the streets, which will definitely help. There should be community participation in keeping the city clean. While the poor lack access to sanitation, in big cities the major creators of garbage are the rich people,’’ she said.

UNICEF deputy country director Lizette Burgers observed that 840 million children in the world lack access to sanitation and dwelt on how problems like open defecation lead to diseases like diarrhea as well as malnutrition among children.

Without Any Prior Notice MCD Demolished shops in INA Market

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Saturday demolished 36 shops in Kashmiri Market in INA, south Delhi. The stretch and the area around Thyagaraj Stadium is to be utilized for the development of a corridor for the Commonwealth Games. The shops were temporarily allotted to the Kashmiri Pandits, who were relocated from Kidwai Nagar in 2001, following the construction of flyover at the AIIMS crossing.

Even as shop owners claimed that were not given any notice, MCD said that the shop owners were informed about the demolition exercise well in advance and there was a verbal consensus between shop owners and the MCD.

‘No notice in writing was sent to us. The demolition drive started at 10am on Saturday. Our shops were shut at the time and there was nobody there. All our stocks were destroyed. The fact that the government does not care about us is obvious,’’ claimed Chand Ji Shahbadi, general secretary, Kashmiri Migrants’ Market Association, Super Bazar, INA.

The MCD sources, however, denied any such claims.’ We had to complete the demolition exercise before June end. Our office was also vandalized some time back, so we could not process paper work before the drive,’’ said an MCD official.

However, sources from the NDMC maintained distance from the issue as the shops were in the MCD area.

‘‘They offered us shops near the nullah, 6 by 4 feet, whereas we were promised 7 by 8 feet shops initially. If beautification of the city is their agenda, it cannot come at the cost of our livelihoods. We came here because we believed that our country will take care of us,’’ said a disheartened Kuldip Qanongoo, who has been living in Delhi for the past 20 years.

The shopkeepers after being displaced from Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of militancy in 1990, started their business at this place in 2001.

The state government had taken up the task of providing a shopping complex with 360 shops for Kashmiri Pandits near the Safdurjung Hospital. But the construction of the mall has not started yet. Thus, after the demolition of shops at INA the shopkeepers are left with no alternative.

‘‘We have been constantly harassed by state governments and political parties alike. However, if they think that they can use such tricks to break our spirit and force us to run away from this place then they are wrong,’’ said Rakesh Razdan, a shop owner.

Local Police to Help in Traffic Control During Games

A day after Delhi police commissioner Y S Dadwal requested citizens to try and avoid roads leading to Commonwealth Games venues while athletes and officials are being ferried to them during the October 3-14 sporting gala, the traffic police said that they have devised two new methods to counter the threat of jams during the Games.

Talking to Times City, a senior traffic police officer said a decision has been taken to rope in local police to control traffic in areas which witness peak-hour jams. ‘‘The project will be inaugurated during this rainy season since water logging leads to a lot of congestion. We are only trying to tell local police that they do not need to wait for our guidance to clear up a jam,’’ said the officer. The officer added that the project will be used as a pilot before the Games. ‘‘If successful, it will help us streamline traffic during the games too,’’ added the officer.

Sources in the police said that officials up to the rank of sub-inspectors might be asked to chip in. ‘‘The number of cars on Delhi roads are increasing by the day. However, the number of traffic policemen has not increased accordingly. Since basic traffic rules are known to local police we will have some more expert people manning the roads,’’ said a southern district traffic officer.

Meanwhile, a dearth of officials has forced the cops to turn to the ‘common man’ so that he can help in regulating traffic on Delhi roads. Delhi Police has invited ‘‘motivated residents’’ to enrol themselves as volunteers for traffic regulation during the mega sporting extravaganza. ‘‘We have roped in cricketer Virender Sehwag to appeal to the people to join the programme,’’ a senior police official said. In the programme, a Delhiite who is above 18 years of age and has passed Class XII can enrol as a volunteer and his services will be utilized for 20 days between September 25 and October 15.

‘‘What you need is only a mobile phone and an email ID. If the volunteer has a driving license, it is better. Download the application from the Delhi Traffic Police website www.delhitrafficpolice.nic.in and you will soon receive your registration number,’’ the official said. The official said a volunteer will have to work for at least three hours a day during those 20 days at a time of his choice. However, the official said, no remuneration will be paid as it is an ‘‘honorary volunteer ship’’. The cops said that these ‘‘volunteers’’ will be imparted some basic traffic management skills soon before they will be taken on a ‘‘live’’ demonstration at strategic locations. ‘‘There is no limit to the number of people who can enroll in this programme,’’ added the officer.

Metro Coached for Central Secretariat Badarpur Line Installed on Lines

In a first-of-its kind operation, DMRC successfully unloaded four coaches on the Central Secretariat (CTST)-Badarpur line near Lajpat Nagar on Saturday night. This special operation was undertaken to expedite the work on Line 6 which got delayed by five months due to the pillar collapse in Zamrudpur last year that is scheduled to start in September this year.

In this unique operation, cranes were used to lift the coaches (each weighing 42 tones) and place them on the inclined tracks. Within six hours, DMRC officials lowered four coaches on the track. ‘‘We had to do some streetscaping near the ramp in order to ensure smooth shifting of the coaches. We have been planning this operation for the past six months and as it was being done for the first time we were very careful during its execution,’’ said Dayal.

The operation was a great engineering achievement as the coaches were stabled on an inclination of about 4%. Generally, the rail coaches are stabled on a straight surface. ‘‘For this, two battery operated shunters were used to prevent the coaches from sliding down backwards on the incline. After being unloaded, the coaches were taken to the Lajpat Nagar Metro station where coupling will be done. Trials on this section are expected to start after the signaling work is complete,’’ said Dayal.

The decision to lower the coaches at the ramp between Jangpura and Lajpat Nagar was taken as the stretch between CTST-Lajpat Nagar is ready for trial run. But as construction work is still going on between Lajpat Nagar-Badarpur, getting the coaches from Sarita Vihar Depot where coaches are parked was impossible.

‘This exercise will save us a month. The work on the stretch between Lajpat Nagar-Badarpur will take some time. But as the stretch between CTST-Lajpat Nagar is ready we wanted to test it and get the signaling system in place. That’s why; we decided to lower the coaches on this stretch. We will extend the trial till Nehru Place once that stretch is ready,’’ said Anuj Dayal.

The carriageway between Lodhi flyover and Moolchand flyover was close for six hours on Saturday night. But as the Lodhi flyover was not barricaded initially, a lot of people had to take a U-turn after getting down the flyover.

After May 30 MCD to remove all overhead cables and wires

Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has issued a public notice asking cable and broadband operators to remove all overhead wires by June 30. If the operators refuse to do so, the civic agency will initiate action and remove such wires itself.

With a majority of the cable operators yet to adhere to these orders, such an action by MCD might lead to interruption in cable services across the city in the coming days also affecting the telecast of FIFA matches.

There are around 2,000 cable operators in the capital. ‘‘I think cable operators have been given enough time to remove the overhead wires, which are an eyesore across the city. However, only a few of them have done the needful,’’ said president, National Cable and Telecom Association, Vikky Chaudhary.’’

The decision comes as part of the measures being taken to make Delhi look aesthetically beautiful before the Commonwealth Games. Said an MCD official: ‘‘Overhead wires look shabby. They pose danger and also spoil the beauty of the city. Several meetings have been held with the operators to facilitate their removal. The last date for removing the overhanging wires is now June 30.’’

Due to Various Approval Hurdles Old City to Get Facelift Only After Games

Even as the rest of the city gets a facelift ahead of the Commonwealth Games, the Walled City that sees a large number of tourists will continue to exist in a state of neglect. After over six years of planning for the redevelopment of the area, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) now claims that it will only be able to reconstruct the central verge in Chandni Chowk before the Games.

Said MCD commissioner K S Mehra: ‘‘Getting the requisite approval from various agencies takes time and therefore we will only be able to reconstruct the central verge before the Games. The rest of the redevelopment of Chandni Chowk will be taken up after the Games.’’

Traders in the area now claim that they will not let the civic agency carry out work on even the central verge. Said general secretary of Chandni Chowk traders’ association, Sanjay Bharghav: ‘‘For more than six years we have been hearing about their redevelopment plans for the area. However, no work has been done on ground. We are now tired of this and will not allow MCD to carry out any work here. This will just be a waste of money. Chandni Chowk is a major tourist destination and the government agencies should have given priority to the area. Instead, the main road of Chandni Chowk has been dug up everywhere for deep sewage work being carried out by Delhi Jal Board (DJB). The pavements, too, are crumbling and there is utter traffic chaos in the area.’’

At present, the main road from Red Fort to Fatehpuri remains heavily encroached by vendors, and illegal parking of vehicles makes it impossible to walk around the area. Said a trader: ‘‘Lakhs of tourists are expected to visit Chandni Chowk during the Games and it will be a matter of shame for us to showcase the Old City as it exists today. There is no space to walk in the area due to heavy encroachment, the overhead wires continue to be an eyesore and there is no proper parking area or even basic amenities available here.’’

The original ambitious redevelopment plan floated by MCD around six years back included relaying of the main Chandni Chowk road along with other roads in the Walled City, carrying out ducting of service lines, relaying of pavements in the area, putting up new streetlights, carrying out facade improvement, among other works. MCD had also proposed to start a tram service in the area. The total cost of the plan was estimated to vary between Rs 40 crore and Rs 50 crore. According to senior MCD officials, however, delays in getting the funds from Delhi government for this project also led to problems and delayed the work in Chandni Chowk.

Said Abhimanyu Dalal, consultant for the project: ‘‘We had a meeting with senior officials of MCD in the beginning of June. We were told that work on improving the footpaths and installing streetlights in the area could be started soon as part of phase-I, which was supposed to be undertaken before the Games. However, we haven’t heard from them since then.’’

Said Bharghav: ‘‘In a letter by chief minister Sheila Dikshit, we were assured that phase-I of this project would be completed before the Games. But none of the promises made to us has been kept.’’

A Book About Delhi Metro Information Released

If you are looking for information about any of the Metro stations in the city their location, parking, other facilities and daily footfalls just flip through this book. A ready reckoner for those seeking information about the Metro network, the book titled ‘Delhi Metro Stations and Surroundings’ was released by CM Sheila Dikshit on Saturday. DMRC managing director E Sreedharan was also present on the occasion.

Penned by Union urban development secretary M Ramachandaran, also the chairman of DMRC, the book priced at Rs 100 is a kind of mini encyclopedia about 143 stations.

Commonwealth Games security drill begins

With not even 100 days left for Commonwealth Games, Delhi Police has embarked on a confidence-building exercise to allay fears about security concerns in the run-up to the sporting extravaganza.

On Saturday, Delhi Police commissioner YS Dadwal reviewed security arrangements at Major Dhyan Chand Stadium and Talkatora Stadium and announced ‘man-named deployment’ at the two venues. Under this, each policeman is assigned one fixed position.

With this deployment, cops will be trained about their positions and in dealing with emergency situations. It is aimed at providing real-time analysis to the officials entrusted with the inner security at the stadia. The drill, which started on Saturday, will be carried out every 10 days.

Once these venues are handed over to Delhi Police, the cops will further tighten the security the stadia will be sanitized and locked from September 15. During the sporting event, the cops will monitor movements at the venue from the Central Command and Control Centre for Information (C4i) being set up at the Delhi Police headquarters. CCTV cameras will bring live feeds to the control centre, round-the-clock.

Elaborating on the arrangements, commissioner Dadwal said: ‘‘We are carrying out this drill much before the actual dates to check preparedness and further fine-tune security at the stadia. I am satisfied with the preparedness.’’

However, the top cop seemed perturbed about vehicular movement in the city. ‘‘Traffic during the Games is a reason to worry. There will be movement of players, athletes, delegates. Plus, spectators will also come to the venues. So, I would request public to cooperate with the police. We will come out with advisories and request public to follow them. Dedicated traffic lane is being carved out for Games traffic,’’ Dadwal said.

Calling for cooperation from citizens, he said: ‘‘We will try our best to educate people. This is a great event for the city. Whatever arrangement is made by police, it can be successful only with people’s cooperation.’’

The security around each of the venues has been classified into four zones. The first check will be carried out in the outer zone where parking and traffic will be managed. Only those with valid tickets will be allowed into the second zone called middle zone after a soft check.

At the next level, spectators will be channelized into different enclosures after another round of checks. ‘‘In the inner cordon, bar-coded tickets will be checked and spectators will be photographed. All VIP cars will be made to pass through scanners. The final level, an exclusion zone, is the area 30 meters from the sporting venue. Here, all will undergo manual frisking, will be searched by hand-held metal detectors,’’ said a senior cop. Dadwal added that police is working in ‘‘very close coordination’’ with other security agencies, including National Security Guards.

He said that personnel are being given behavioral training to deal with the foreign tourists during the Games.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

After Inspection LG Ordered to Clean up the mess for landscaping at Games Village

The approach road to the Commonwealth Games Village had been re-laid but LG Tejendra Khanna, soon after entering the site, was quick to observe the mess of empty labor shacks and debris to one side. ‘‘Clean up the mess and hand the site over to DDA for landscaping by July 6,” the LG remarked before beginning his first inspection here.

As he directed the contractor in charge to have the mess cleared up by the evening of July 5, the LG turned to the assembled media and said, ‘‘July 6 is the deadline. I will be back here to check on the progress and you can review the situation too.”

He then began to inspect the site which will house the 1,168 flats in which 8000-odd athletes coming for the Games in October will be housed.

As the LG strode into one of the towers on which work has been completed and which was recently handed over to DDA, he chose to inspect every room in one of the flats. As he went around, Khanna wondered about the maintenance of the plush apartments.

Major General AK Singh, the person in charge of the project, pointed out that the flats are located across 34 towers, nine of which have been already handed over to DDA, and that another nine will be handed over within 10 days. All towers will be handed over by July 31, Singh added. It is only after that that DDA will work out the handing over of the flats with the organizing committee.

ITDC has already started moving furniture into the tower blocks on which work has been completed. According to Singh, construction work was completed by March 31.

Games Spirit with Sufi Songs at Wagah Border

As preparations got under way to hand the baton over to the Indian side early on Friday morning, the deceptively pleasant early morning breeze gave way to the scorching heat as the day wore on. Much like the relaxed bonhomie at the border seemed to give way to a race to be heard above the other, as both the Pakistani and Indian performers tried outdoing each other.

So while the other side belted out one rousing song after the other even as spectators danced to loud music, on the Indian side, the local performers dancers and folk singers who had come from the North Zone Cultural Centre, tried to drown out the din from the other side with energetic performances. Helping the Indian performers was the BSF band. The enthusiasm of the spectators on the other side of the border could clearly be seen, as groups of young sports enthusiasts and schoolchildren clapped and danced to the music. On the Indian side, it took the combined performance of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Wadalli brothers to shake the spectators out of their seeming stupor.

Interestingly, the level of enthusiasm on the other side seemed to be in tandem with the performances on this side of the border, with the end of a song or performance signaling the start of another on either side.

The spirit of patriotism seemed to reach its peak when the baton came over on the Indian side. Spectators clapped as the baton was handed to boxing stars Vijender Singh and Mary Kom.

After a Long Travel Queen’s Baton in India

The sweltering subcontinent heat could not keep the crowds away. People brimming with enthusiasm jostled for space as confused organizers tried to bring some method to madness at the historic Attari-Wagah border on Friday morning when the baton for the XIX Commonwealth Games arrived in India from Pakistan. Almost 5,000 spectators, officials and armed personnel welcomed it for the national sector of the Queen’s Baton Relay.

It was the active participation on the Pakistani side that seemed to be the deal-clincher. The countdown to the handing over of the baton raised the excitement at the venue as the baton was given by the Pakistan Olympic Association president, Syed Arif Hassan, to the Indian Olympic Association head, Suresh Kalmadi. In the backdrop of loud music and dancing by young Pakistanis on the other side, the handover was symbolic of the ‘‘friendship through sports’’ philosophy that the Delhi Games 2010 has been advocating.

The event had turned the border into a venue of joyous celebrations. Spectators welcomed the baton with chants of Chak De India. As the event countdown began, people were entertained with a show of traditional dance forms of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and other states. Folk music, vocals and colors added to the celebratory mood of the event.

Pakistan Punjab governor Suleman Tasir accompanied the baton to the Indian border, after it was handed over by Hassan, followed by a symbolic handing over to several dignitaries, including Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief Michael Fennel, CGF CEO Mike Hooper, Delhi and Punjab CMs Sheila Dikshit and Prakash Singh Badal and Punjab governor Shivraj Patil. Minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur and secretary (sports) Sundhushree Khullar and several other top officials of Punjab government were also present. The baton was thereafter handed to boxing stars Vijender Singh and Mary Kom before being taken on a tour of Amritsar city on the first leg of the national sector of the Relay.

It was, however, the cultural fusion between the Pakistani maestro, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, and the Wadalli Brothers that perhaps best epitomized the ceremony a rousing rendition of music and emotion. Rahat’s popular “Sajda” number, which was followed by the well-known “Mast Kalandar” sung by the Wadalli brothers, left the audience spell-bound.

Dikshit, while congratulating the Organizing Committee (OC) for the successful handover of the baton, reiterated Delhi’s preparedness for the Delhi Games. It was a hope seconded by Fennel, a shot in the arm for the OC which has been at the receiving end of much criticism from the CGF for tardy preparations in the past.

Sharif said: ‘‘This extravaganza (Delhi Games 2010) will not only bring closer the people of the subcontinent but also the participating countries.’’ Kalmadi nodded in appreciation. ‘‘It’s a great day for sports in India. It is because of Pakistan’s efforts that India got the Games and it shows that our relationship with Pakistan will improve if we concentrate on sports ties,’’ he said. Kalmadi reiterated that preparations were on track and all the infrastructure is coming up well in time. ‘‘We are just 100 days away from the Games. Let me tell you that everything is in place, including the infrastructure. Everything is on track,” he said.

The baton will now travel across the country covering a distance of 20,000 km, will pass through the hands of more than 5,000 baton-bearers across 200 cities and thousands of villages before arriving in Delhi for the opening ceremony of the Games on October 3, 2010.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Queens Baton Arrived with Full Glory

Indian border guards with Pakistan have been put on maximum alert as India prepares to welcome the Queen's Baton Relay today for the Commonwealth Games 2010 in October. This is the first time the baton will enter India after covering nearly 170,000 km across several Commonwealth nations in different continents. The baton is scheduled to enter India from Pakistan through the Attari border at 9.25 a.m.

It will then pass through most Indian states and union territories, covering over 20,000 km before reaching New Delhi on September 30. The Border Security Force (BSF), which mans the 553-km long Radcliffe Line between India and Pakistan in Punjab, has stepped up security at the Attari-Wagah joint border check-post. Himmat Singh, the BSF inspector general in Punjab, told IANS: "Security forces, which remain alert along the international border, have been put on maximum alert for the baton relay.

Normally, at the border we have spectators during the evening retreat ceremony. But this function is scheduled in the morning. Therefore, we have to take extra care while making security arrangements," he added. Special security arrangements have been made by the BSF and night patrolling has been enhanced. Besides ensuring security, the BSF will put up its bands to play during the arrival ceremony. Traditional 'bhangra' and 'gidda' dancers and other performers will welcome the baton.

Several VIPs, including Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, senior politicians and reputed sportspersons, are expected at the ceremony. The event will be marked by a special event in which Syed Arif Hassan, Pakistan Olympics Association president would hand over the baton to Suresh Kalmadi, Indian Olympics Association (IOA) chief.

Earlier on Tuesday a huge participation was witnessed at the first CWG Run initiated by The TOI at Amritsar itself. The 2 km run began at Company Garden and culminated at Guru Nanak Stadium. The masses cheered at the 'Shera' the mascot of the CWG. Navjot Singh Siddhu, former cricketer and now Member of Parliament and chief guest for the occasion flagged off the run. He also distributed cash prizes and special honors to five international players from Amritsar.

The countdown has begun

The arrival of Queen's Baton has upped the spirits as just 100 days are left after which India will host the greatest event in her independent history. As the Indian capital gears to host its largest sporting extravaganza, the crucial pieces are beginning to fall in place albeit a little late in some cases. Stadia are getting completed, Metro links becoming operational, security plans finalized and related infrastructure projects nearing completion.

The organizing committee is confident of putting up a good show for the October 3-14 games, for which a whopping Rs.15,000 crore (Rs.150 billion/over $3 billion) has been allocated. Its confidence is boosted by the successful completion of recent international sporting events - hockey, shooting, boxing as well as IPL cricket matches in the capital - which were considered test events for the games. The games will have 17 disciplines to be held at six venue clusters and five stand alone stadia in the metropolis of 17 million people, one of the most crowded in the world. A majority of the stadia have been inaugurated, but there still remains a question mark over completion of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held.

The sale of tickets started early this month, and the official ticketing agency, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC), is expecting to sell 1.7 million tickets.

Frenzied activity in Delhi

In a recently held business conference 102 days before the opening ceremony. Sheila Dixit, chief minister of Delhi exhibited confidence that by the time Queen's Baton arrives in Delhi, the city will be ready to host the costliest Commonwealth Games till date.

The Delhi government and civic bodies are running against time to complete games related projects roads, flyovers, bridges, underpasses, parking places, beautification and street scaping to make the capital look like what the authorities never tire of saying "a world class city". Of the total 24 infrastructure related projects, 10 have been completed while the rest are likely to be completed by July. The Public Works Department (PWD) is behind in completing the street scaping work. At some main city roads in south Delhi, street scaping work is progressing at a snail's pace with roadsides and footpaths dug up and rubble strewn all around. The civic body is also carrying out 40 games related projects worth Rs.1, 000 crore (Rs.10 billion/$225 million). They include construction of parking facility in various parts of the city as well as the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

A cause of major concern is Delhi's chaotic traffic and the poor public transport system. The authorities have decided to have dedicated lanes for the games traffic to ensure quick movement. "The games lanes will be marked with paint, just like the bus lanes are now," Ajay Chaddha, Joint Commissioner (Traffic), told IANS. "There will be relevant signage too. We will be providing regular guidelines and information on whether the games lanes are operational and at what time. The lanes will be for movement of games officials, athletes and other related traffic." Delhi Metro, the capital's showpiece which is expected to cater to thousands of spectators during the games, is the only agency running ahead of others in completing its projects.

The only Metro projects that remain to be completed before the games are the Central Secretariat-Badarpur line and Airport Express Link. Both are scheduled to be completed by September. The Indira Gandhi International Airport will have a brand new Terminal 3 (T3) with world class facilities. It will be formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 3. Several countries scheduled to participate in the games have raised concerns over security, but the government has firmly said that they need not have any fears.

The authorities have approved installation of an integrated security system (ISS), estimated to cost Rs.370 crore (Rs 3.7 billion/85 million USD), to cover all the venues. According to Delhi Police commissioner Y.S. Dadwal, the police are "totally prepared" for the Commonwealth Games and have promised "an absolutely safe" sporting event. The Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee is training 30,000 volunteers to present Delhi's culture and etiquette to visitors. The authorities are also training thousands of bus, taxi, and auto drivers to converse in English and be tourist-friendly.

Scarcity of Sponsors OC is all set and ok with terms

It might not be as big a deal as sponsorship of the Indian cricket team but the organizing committee (OC) seems more than satisfied with the terms, especially as it faces a scarcity of sponsors. Reebok, the international sportswear company, is to sponsor the uniforms of the Indian contingent at the Commonwealth Games 2010. The sponsorship, worth Rs 10 crore, is in the form of kits and accessories like shoes for the team, said OC secretary-general, Lalit Bhanot.

The sponsorship, which will have 750 Indian athletes sport the logo on all their apparel and kit, even casual wear, comes at a time when the OC has been desperately looking for sponsors. According to sources, the Committee had earlier come out with a request for proposal (RFP) for uniforms which had got dismal results. Said a senior OC official, ‘‘The only company which showed interest in sponsoring was Reebok. They wanted the Indian team to sport the logo, and sponsor their uniform. So the sponsorship deal was signed with them.’’ On being questioned, Bhanot admitted that the show major would be sponsoring three competition kits, two training kits, bags, accessories, shoes as well as the casual wear for the athletes and the technical officials who will be accompanying the team. Added Bhanot, ‘‘Its a value in kind (VIK) deal with Reebok. We are happy with the sponsorship.’’

Interestingly, the OC has also awarded a contract to the same company for uniforms for OC officials and volunteers, starting from the national sector of the
Queens Baton Relay (QBR). This contract is worth Rs 10 crore. This will include providing apparel and other sportswear to around 33,000 OC officials including volunteers and maintenance staff.

OC has been looking for sponsors for some time now. After Hero Honda, which signed on as a co-partner with the Games, and the Indian Railways, the only other company to sign on has been Coca Cola. Sources say OC is also hoping to rope in Tata Motors as sponsors for the national sector of the Queen’s Baton Relay. Tata Motors will be providing the vehicles that form part of the convoy. Said a senior OC official, ‘‘The deal has not been finalized yet, but we are in talks with the company to associate with the QBR through sponsorship of the convoy vehicle.’’ If the motor company comes on board, it would be the second such company after Hero Honda.

Till now, the OC has not been able to generate as much revenue from sponsorships and other avenues as had been expected. While it earned around Rs 300 crore from TV rights, it got Rs 100 crore deal from the Indian Railways. The loan taken by the OC for conducting the Games meanwhile is Rs 1,620 crore.

Special Train to Promote Common Wealth Games

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday flagged off a special exhibition train to promote the Commonwealth Games across India. The train on Friday reaches Amritsar where the Queen’s Baton Relay arrives from Pakistan.

The train has 14 coaches, including five dedicated to sports and Commonwealth Games and six to information technology, an official said.

One coach will be converted into a 100-foot-long traveling sports photo exhibition, curate by filmmaker Sunil Yash Kalra, who has donated rare pictures from his collection of over 5,000 photos.

The train will journey to 48 stations across the country. It will follow the Queen’s Baton in places with railway connectivity.

The train is painted with logos of the 19th edition of the Commonwealth Games and the Indian Railways. It will return to New Delhi by October 1, ahead of the October 3-14 mega event

The Wait is Over Queens Baton to enter India today

Attari, around 30km from the Sikh holy city, Amritsar, witnessed hectic activity on Thursday. Preparations were on in full swing to welcome the Queen’s Baton for the XIX Commonwealth Games in Delhi that will enter Punjab from Pakistan on Friday morning.

As a prelude to the big event, Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi and his Pakistani counterpart Sayed Arif Hassan discussed last-minute arrangements for over half-an-hour at ground zero. They also held detailed discussions on synchronization of the ceremony and gave on-the-spot instructions to event managers.

Ignoring the scorching heat, Kalmadi, who had come prepared for the rehearsal, took the Baton from his counterpart in Pakistan before walking up to the BSF Conference Hall. Later, he also offered cold drinks to Hassan and the jawans of Pakistan Rangers. Besides a large contingent of artists from various states, local children also flocked to the Attari border for the full dress rehearsal of the ceremony. A group of children from India and Pakistan under a joint initiative of The Times of India and Jang group, Aman Ki Asha also rehearsed tying the ends of rope bearing small handkerchiefs carrying peace messages.

From an elaborate cultural extravaganza that will see Pakistani singing icon Rahat Fateh Ali create a cultural fusion with Indian qawali stars, the Wadalli brothers, to the handover of the baton to India’s sporting star and Olympic medalist Vijender Singh and woman boxing legend Mary Kom, the show promises to be a fitting curtain-raiser to the Delhi Games 2010 in October.

Kalmadi said, ‘‘It is a matter of immense pride for the entire nation. The Queen’s Baton Relay will act as a great unifying force for the country. We have broken ground for more sportspersons (to participate) but most importantly, we are here at the mecca of the Sikhs to receive the baton.’’ The enthusiasm was more than apparent as a host of local dignitaries, including Navjot Singh Sidhu, turned out to welcome the unveiling of OC plans. The Baton enters India from the Wagah Border on Friday. It will first be handed over to Kalmadi and thereafter to CWG president Michael Fennell, Punjab CM Prakash Singh Badal, Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit and several other senior government officials.

The relay will officially be started by Vijendra Singh and Mary Kom, who will run with the baton for a few kilometres. Speculation is rife that a sportstar from the Pakistan sporting arena will also be part of the show. Others present on the occasion included MP and chairman of the media committee of organising committee, Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2010, Tarlochan Singh, officer on special duty, CWG, Jagmohan Bhanot, BSF inspector general Himmat Singh and deputy inspector general Mohd Aquil.

Singh and his deputy, PS Gill, reviewed security at the border. BSF claimed to have taken all measures to ensure the ceremony is not marred by any untoward incident. It has also conveyed its security concern to Pakistan Rangers, asking them to keep a close watch on pro-Taliban elements, who had earlier attacked Indian villages with rockets.

BSF has issued special entry passes to visiting artists, while policemen have been deployed at every nook and corner to ensure the security of dignitaries and sportspersons expected on the big day.

After the handover on Friday, the baton will travel across 100 cities. From Punjab, it will travel to J&K and onwards, before reaching Delhi on September 30. The secret message of British monarch Queen Elizabeth II will be opened on October 3 when the opening ceremony is held.

National Capital Boiling because of Power Outages

Even as chief minister Sheila Dikshit has warned discoms against power cuts, heat-battered Delhiites continue to reel under long outages. In a city where authorities insist that there is no power shortage, the aam admi is going without electricity for hours together.

Aya Nagar near Mehrauli is ‘‘feeling powerless’’ these days. While the recently inaugurated Gurgaon Metro line is lit up with thousands of decorative bulbs every evening, residents of Aya Nagar have no power in their houses for up to 12 hours. ‘‘We face power cuts for up to 12-14 hours every day. The discoms’ complaint centre numbers are either always busy or switched off,’’ said resident Anuj Istwal. ‘‘Yesterday was my brother’s marriage. Long outages affected the water supply. Now my younger brother is admitted in Max hospital as he contracted jaundice while two other relatives are recovering from other illnesses,’’ added another resident Sunita Kumari.

Every colony had similar tales of woe. ‘‘In the last few days, we had power cuts for 14 hours at times. There is absolutely no response mechanism in place considering such extreme cuts should come with at least a warning,’’ said Pankaj Agarwal, general secretary of Safdarjung Enclave RWA. In Arjun Nagar, residents appealed to the local MLA for help. ‘‘There was no power on Monday for hours during night. It was only after the MLA intervened that supply resumed at 2am,’’ said O N Sharma, president of Arjun Nagar RWA.

Anju Joshi, resident of Pushp Vihar, said: ‘‘We are quite used to excessive power cuts, especially in this season. Our lives come to stop for hours at a stretch and it’s particularly difficult to handle children as they are much more sensitive to heat.’’ In Dwarka, resident Shresth Banerjee said they went without electricity for 10-12 hours while Janakapuri resident Meera Khanna said they had no electricity from 4 pm to 9 pm on Thursday. ‘‘The AC does not work on inverters. I called the BSES helpline about 10 times but each time, I was unable to get through,’’ she complained.

Discoms laid the blame on the Northern Grid for the extended outages. ‘‘Some south Delhi areas suffered because of a transmission line shutdown for the Games. There were also some local faults in some colonies which we looked into at the earliest,’’ said a discom official.

Cases like Aya Nagar had their own set of problems. BRPL CEO Gopal Saxena said: ‘‘NHAI is widening roads on the Andheria Mor-Gurgaon stretch and contractors have been careless snapping many of our cables. Unfortunately, they have covered these damaged cables with mud instead of letting BSES know so that we can fix those cables. We have spoken to the director of NHAI and the contractors to sensitize them to the situation as these are high-tension wires.’’

Government Planning to Fine Discoms for Outages

Around a year back when outages became order of the day, the situation normalized only after the state government intervened. The move led to regulator DERC penalizing the discom in south Delhi for ‘‘unprecedented power cuts’’ and formulating a policy which stipulated fines for discoms in case of outages in future.

According to the order passed by DERC last year, any interruption in power supply beyond 1% of the total power supplied in a month could invite penalties. With power cuts making a comeback, it remains to be seen whether action would be initiated against erring discoms this time.

DERC officials said they would have to wait for the monthly report at the end of June to see whether there was any deficiency on part of the power companies. ‘‘The data provided by the discoms will be scrutinized by us. Whether power cuts were on their account or due to reasons beyond their control is something yet to be assessed,’’ said a senior DERC official.

In a written communication to the regulator several weeks back, discoms said that power cuts in the city were mainly on account of line shutdowns by Transco and a volatile Northern Grid, which is facing pressure from all northern states. ‘‘This is what they have communicated to us but we are yet to ascertain the authenticity of their claims. They cannot be penalized if outage reasons are beyond their control,’’ added the official.

This time the regulator will also be keeping a check on the statistics submitted by the discoms using the SCADA system installed in DERC office. ‘‘Half information we get from SCADA but we rely on the discoms to provide data too. We cannot reach any conclusion till we refer to the full facts,’’ said the official.

The SCADA system installed in DERC head-office helps officials keep tabs on the power supply within the city. Apart from this, monthly reports are sent by all discoms since the power crisis in June 2009. DERC installed SCADA since some discoms were found to be manipulating data last year and the regulator wanted to ensure that it had access to all information related to power supply in Delhi.

Despite All Efforts Power Cuts are On

In an exact replay of the crisis the national capital faced on the power front last year, residents were hit by power cuts lasting six to eight hours. From Wednesday night to all of Thursday, almost every colony in Delhi fell victim to power cuts. Some places like Vasant Vihar were luckier, with only an hour of load shedding, while areas like Dwarka went without electricity for 10-12 hours.

Peak power demand in Delhi hovered around a high 4,650 MW, showing how city residents were depending on air-conditioners to beat the June heat. But going without power for several hours in such weather conditions doubled their agony. Most colonies faced long outages throughout the night caused by a sudden 300 MW generation shortfall to Delhi, following which rotational load shedding was carried out to maintain voltage levels. The situation lasted several hours, giving most consumers a sleepless night.

According to officials from transmission utility Delhi Transco, one 210 MW Dadri unit tripped after which the entire Nathpa Jhakri generating station stopped some hours later due to a problem of high silt. ‘‘Due to the sudden reduction in generation at the load centre, the system’s voltage dropped lower than permissible limits. The reduction in generation was about 300 MW. Though Delhi had sufficient power, to maintain voltage, rotational shedding of around 100 MW was carried out on the advice of NRLDC (Northern Regional Load Dispatch Centre) from late Wednesday night,’’ said a Transco spokesperson.

For the last several days, as outages have been hampering life for Delhiites, the authorities concerned have been passing the buck. Discoms lay the blame on Transco for frequent tripping of lines, as well as the planned shutdowns of lines, like Badarpur-Okhla, for the Games. In addition, argue discoms, ‘‘If we get directions from NRLDC to limit drawing of power from the grid, how can the electricity supplier be held responsible?” In fact, power sector experts say that if Transco’s ‘‘poorly managed’’ transmission lines are responsible for some of Delhi’s outages, then they can be pulled up by regulator DERC as well.

The discoms also said a shutdown of Transco’s 50 MVA transformers in Okhla was adding to the bad power scenario in south Delhi colonies. Transco meanwhile stuck to its stand that while some lines could have tripped in the past due to technical glitches, they were fixed at the earliest. ‘‘And the shutdown of any lines for ongoing Commonwealth Games work has not been on our account,’’ said a Transco official.

Delhi Metro Badarpur Line to be Opened in July

Metro is slowly expanding its reach in the capital. The Central Secretariat (CTST)-Badarpur line will soon dot the Metro map with trial run on the section starting in the first week of July.

‘‘The 9km-long stretch between CTST and Lajpat Nagar is almost ready and we plan to start the trial runs from July. For this, four coaches of the standard gauge would be lowered by cranes and dragged to the Jangpura station where it will be assembled. It is easier to lower the coaches on the ramp near Jangpura, as after this the entire section is elevated,’’ said Kumar Keshav, director, project and planning, DMRC. Coaches will be brought from Mundka standard gauge depot for this special trial run.

For the first time, DMRC is conducting trial run on a small stretch of an underconstruction Metro line. DMRC officials say that this is going to save time and help in finishing the project before the Games. ‘‘This (Badarpur line) is the second line built on the standard gauge specification. The stretch between CTST and Lajpat Nagar is almost ready, so we plan to conduct the trial on 40% of the entire line,’’ said Keshav.

The trial run will on the small stretch will continue for four weeks and then will be extended to Nehru Place.

Two cranes would be used for lowering the coaches. It is expected to start at 11 pm on Saturday night and is likely to be over by 6 am on Sunday morning. For this, DMRC has asked Delhi traffic police to allow traffic diversion near Defence Colony and Moolchand flyover on one side.

The Rs 3,603 crore projects got delayed by five months due to the Zamrudpur accident. Metro officials say that the work on this line is almost 70% complete. There are 16 stations on the 20.16km-long CTST-Badarpur line Central Secretariat, Khan Market, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Jangpura, Lajpat Nagar, Moolchand, Kailash Colony, Nehru Place, Kalkaji Mandir, Govindpuri, Okhla, Jasola, Sarita Vihar, Mohan Estate, Tughlakabad and Badarpur.

Delhi Metro Making Arrangement for Extra rush

A new underground station has been added to existing Central Sec station to accommodate two new sections

With two new lines Gurgaon and Badarpur expected to be connected to the Central Secretariat station (CTST) soon, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is making final arrangements to handle the extra rush of passengers and trains at the station.

In an architectural feat involving capacity expansion, DMRC has constructed a new underground station parallel to the existing CTST and connected it to the original station. With this, it has become the only Metro system in the world to operate two different gauges broad (CTST-Jehangirpuri) and standard (CTST-Badarpur) from a common platform. While the Gurgaon-Qutub line will be linked to the existing Central Secretariat-Jehangirpuri line, the Badapur Metro will in September roll into the newly-built premises with standard gauge tracks.

Integration means that passengers won’t face hurdles in changing trains that will branch out to three different parts of the city. ‘‘Passengers entering this underground Metro station will find a common concourse where they can purchase tokens/smart cards. We have a separate ticketing counter at the new station. People can change between the lines at the concourse and platform level. We have also constructed a subway between the two stations,’’ said Anuj Dayal, spokesperson, DMRC.

But the integration was not an easy process. The biggest challenge was to make passages in the main load-bearing wall dividing the two stations. ‘‘The load on this wall was close to 10,5000 kg per running meter, as the road above the station sees constant traffic movement. Before making the passages, we had to provide adequate support to prevent the structure from collapsing or shaking when the trains cross the station,’’ said Kumar Keshav, director project and planning, DMRC.

For this, DMRC erected iron columns from the under craft to concourse level before cutting the wall. A total of six passages have been made four on concourse and two on the platform. ‘‘We started planting the columns from the foundation level. As our line 2 (CTST-Jehangirpuri) was operational, we had to ensure that the walls didn’t shake due to vibrations caused by train movement,’’ said Keshav.

Due to heavy movement of vehicles on the road above the station, DMRC engineers had to constantly monitor the load on the columns. Special load cell monitors were used thrice a day to monitor the load on the columns. Once the columns were in place, DMRC started cutting the wall at the earmarked points to create the passage. ‘‘Our cranes can’t take more than 6000 kg load, so we decided to take out blocks weighing 4000 kg each. To make one passage, the wall was cut in 105 blocks. We then reconstructed the pillars to support the main wall,’’ said Keshav.
Another big challenge was to ensure smooth operation on CTST-Jehangirpuri line, which is one of the busiest sections with close to 552 train trips every day. ‘‘We couldn’t shut down operations on line 2 to interconnect the two stations,’’ said Keshav.


Two new lines from Badarpur and Gurgaon will soon be linked to the existing Central Secretariat station (CTST)

To handle the extra rush of passengers and trains, DMRC has constructed an additional underground station at CTST which will be connected to the existing station at concourse and platform

This is the first time two different gauges standard and broad will operate from the same station

Jehangirpuri-CTST (broad gauge) is functional and will be connected to the newly-opened Qutub-Gurgaon corridor in August

CTST-Badarpur (standard gauge) is scheduled to open in September

THE INTEGRATION PROCESS Six passages four on concourse and two on platform are made to connect the two stations 52 iron columns used on each level to support the wall where the passages are made

Columns used at three different levels from foundation to the concourse. Total height of each column is 18 meters Each passage is 7.6-metre wide 35 meters of main wall was cut to make the passages
Cost | Rs 275 crore (approx)
Number of workers | 700 15
contractors simultaneously working on the project

CTST will act as a point for passenger interchange once the CTST-Badarpur line is made operational

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Public Holiday on Games Closing Ceremony

Babus are set to get one more holiday this year the day the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games is held in October this year.

All central and Delhi government offices are likely to be closed on that day. The Union Cabinet on Thursday is expected to take a call on the proposal for declaring October 14 the day of the closing ceremony as a public holiday using Negotiable Instruments Act.

The capital’s residents, however, will miss a holiday as the opening ceremony, scheduled for October 3, is a Sunday.

The city government has already advised schools and colleges in the capital to remain closed during the duration of the Games. As the final countdown for the Games begins, the organizers including the city government and the Delhi Police, worried about the traffic chaos on Delhi’s streets on normal working days, have been pushing for a holiday on the closing day to facilitate crowd and traffic management.

The Organizing Committee has been pushing for a holiday arguing that the mega event deserved to be enshrined in public memory.

Qutub Metro Station to Expand Capacity

Seeing the huge turnout at the Qutub Minar Metro station, DMRC has decided to temporarily expand its parking facility at the station. The decision was taken after DMRC’s managing director E Sreedharan inspected the newly opened line on Wednesday.

The parking at Qutub was full by 10.30am and people were forced to park their vehicles in unauthorized areas. ‘‘We have been looking for parking space for the past 15 minutes. The parking lot at Qutub was full and so we thought we will park our vehicle in the unauthorized area within the premises,’’ said Sanjay, a student, who had come with friends to visit the malls on MG Road.

Gurgaon Metro a Big Headache for Delhi Metro Rail Corporation

A day after it was thrown open to public, Metro’s Gurgaon-Qutub line recorded a marginal increase in rider ship up from 36,182 on Monday to 38,700 on Tuesday. Keeping in mind the rush, DMRC introduced a new train on the route.

‘‘With the addition of another train now, the total number of train trips in a day on this stretch has increased from 179 to 211. We expect the rider ship to go up,’’ said a DMRC spokesperson.

While the Millennium City celebrated its first comfortable and fast public transport system, the Metro also triggered traffic jams outside stations where cars jostled to find parking space. Huge rush was reported from roads leading to Metro stations in Gurgaon on Tuesday. MG Road and Sikanderpur witnessed jams during peak hours.

The jams, cops said, resulted from lack of sufficient feeder buses which forced commuters to take their vehicles to Metro stations. ‘‘The roads leading to Metro stations were heavily clogged in the morning and evening peak hours and we had to struggle hard to regulate traffic movement,’’ said a traffic cop stationed near MG Road police station.

Amid chaos, residents said that their dream of having Metro in the city had come true but facilities are not up to the mark. ‘‘The parking lot at MG Road Metro station is very small and the stretch too is very congested. Due to this, reaching the station is a tedious task. The authorities should immediately widen the stretch and start feeder bus service to all five stations,’’ said R S Rathee, president, Gurgaon citizens council. ‘‘What will happen when the Metro reaches Central Secretariat? The authorities are not prepared to handle the rush,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, a large number of Delhiites made use of the Metro to reach their offices in Gurgaon. The footfall at Qutub Minar Metro station was 11,700 on Tuesday. But unlike Dwarka-Noida line, very few people are patronizing this section. DMRC sold only 500 smart cards on the first day whereas close to 2,787 were sold on the opening day of Dwarka-Noida line. ‘‘We expect more rush once this stretch is connected to Central Secretariat,’’ said a DMRC spokesperson.

The Wait is Over: Queen’s Baton to enter India on Friday

After Covering 70 Countries & 1.7L Km, It Will Visit 200 Cities Across India In 100 Days

The countdown to the Commonwealth Games 2010 has finally began. On June 25, the Queen’s Baton Relay comes back to India via the Wagah-Attari border from Pakistan after almost eight months. This will start the last leg of the journey culminating in Delhi on October 3, at the opening ceremony of the Delhi Games 2010.

The baton, which has traveled 70 countries and 1, 70,000km in 240 days, will be visiting 200 cities in 28 states and seven union territories on its 100 days’ trip through the country. The baton will be welcomed on Friday by the chief minister of the host city, Sheila Dikshit, as well as the IOC president and organizing committee (OC) head, Suresh Kalmadi. The CM of Punjab along with a host of other dignitaries will also be present at the welcoming function.

While OC officials refused to name the sportspersons who will be the baton bearer, Kalmadi claimed it would be a decision taken by the state government, what is apparent is the elaborate plans in the offing for promoting the Delhi Games through the baton. A mammoth task considering around 200 cities and villages form ports of call for the baton’s journey.

Interestingly, the baton will be accompanied by three escort runners who are armed forces personnel, besides a crew of OC officials, and the baton bearers. The Indian Army is also pitching in with various forms of transport that will be used during the length of the trip helicopters, battle tanks, submarine and ship.

However, security will be provided by the state governments, said Kalmadi an important issue since the baton travels through some sensitive areas like Raipur where Naxal attacks have taken place in the recent past. The baton convoy, which consists of 25 vehicles, will have Hero Honda as the presentation partner, revealed OC officials.

Added Kalmadi, ‘‘The baton relay will have over 5,000 baton bearers, and we hope that people from all walks of life would participate in the relay.’’

The relay in India will start from the Wagah-Attari border and pass through Punjab and J&K, to travel on to Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It will reach Uttar Pradesh on July 8, and travel on to Patna in Bihar, and then on to Bagdogra. The northeast relay will commence from Bagdogra on July 15 and move towards Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.

On August 1, the baton will fly from Agartala to Kolkata. The journey will then continue through the states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, and thereafter, move towards the southern states and visit Andhra Pradesh, traversing through the Andaman and Nicobar islands (Port Blair) via Chennai. It will then go to Kerala, fly down to Kavaratti in the Lakshwadeep Islands, and return back to Kochi.

In the final phase of the relay, the baton will visit Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and reach New Delhi on September 30.

During the 100-day national tour, the Queen’s Baton will visit the capital of each of India’s 28 states and seven union territories, apart from many other cities along the way, covering more than 20,000 kilometers. By the end of its journey, the baton will have traversed over 1,90,000 kilometers in 340 days, making the Queens Baton Relay 2010 Delhi one of the longest relays in the history of the Commonwealth Games.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ghaziabad to Delhi Now Expect Very Smooth Riding

For those who take the NH-24 to commute from the upcoming swanky suburbs in Ghaziabad to the capital, Ghazipur crossing is the biggest bottleneck. Not only do they have to suffer in the bumper-to-bumper, long snarls at the crossing but also bear the stench emanating from the adjacent Ghazipur landfill site.

But the agonizing wait will partially end on Monday when the Public Works Department (PWD) throws open one carriageway from Ghaziabad to Delhi of the flyover coming up at the crossing. ‘‘One of the carriageways that will take traffic from Ghaziabad to Delhi will be opened to the public on Monday. The other carriageway will be opened by June 30,’’ PWD minister Raj Kumar Chauhan said, adding that the four-lane carriageway is approximately 770 meters long.

The project was conceptualized as part of the work aimed at improving infrastructure and easing traffic congestion before Commonwealth Games. The Ghazipur flyover is expected to ease the traffic flow to and from Ghaziabad. This route leads up to the Commonwealth Games Village site and hence it was felt that decongesting this route was important so that the inter-state traffic could flow easily allowing tourists to move in and out of the capital without much difficulty, senior officials explained.

Earlier, the underpass at the flyover was opened providing seamless traffic flow between Anand Vihar and Kalyanpuri.

That the project is a significant step towards decongesting the crucial crossing comes through in a survey conducted in 2002. It had found that during peak hours more than 7000 passenger car units use the crossing.

The pedestrian traffic is significant here considering that the survey then showed that in 12 hours nearly 6000 pedestrians use this crossing. Going by these figures, the pressure on the crossing has only increased manifold in the last eight years. Hence the need for a flyover, officials explained.

Parking a Big Mess for Gurgaon Metro

Though residents of Gurgaon and people who work there have welcomed the Metro with mixed feelings they are unhappy that services will be available till only Qutub Minar station the Millennium City administration is heaving a sigh of relief.

Reason: They say it would have been a nightmare handling traffic movement and providing parking space to so many vehicles at Metro stations had the entire line opened at one go.

It’s a different matter that the authorities concerned knew for the past four years that the Metro will be coming to Gurgaon but had not made arrangements for people to reach the stations.

According to them, the parking provided at the stations is not adequate and the fact that there are no feeder buses means that even those who want to leave their cars behind would be forced to use them in order to reach any of the five metro stations in Gurgaon.

The recently-imposed ban on rickshaws that prohibits them from plying on MG Road has only added to the commuters’ woes. The parking lots at two stations (Sikanderpur and MG Road) will not be functional at the moment. ‘The parking lots at the stations are not adequate expect in the last station (Huda city center). Since there are no feeder buses, we are trying to make some temporary arrangements. We will run a few buses on Monday and increase their frequency after gauging the demand,” said Rajinder Kataria,
deputy commissioner, Gurgaon.

There is, however, some discrepancy regarding the parking facility at Huda City Centre station. While the DC claims that both the parkings (surface level as well as the basement) will be for commuters, DMRC insists that the basement parking is only for shop owners and visitors to the mall that is coming up inside the station.

Gurgaon municipal commissioner Rajesh Khullar too expressed his apprehension over the parking situation. ‘‘The situation is particularly bad at Sikanderpur. We plan to convert the existing road into a parking lot as a temporary arrangement. The intra-city buses which could have solved the commuting problem will take another 4-5 months,” he said.

“Thankfully, the Metro will be operational only till Qutub Minar, which means most people who use it will do so for a joy ride. Had it got connected to the existing Metro network in Delhi, it would have been impossible to handle traffic and parking. We are, however, worried about the shortage of parking space at the stations. Something has to be done,” said SS Deswal, police commissioner.

Good News for Gurgaon Residents: Metro To Ease Journey

The opening of the Delhi-Gurgaon Metro line may be good news for many but getting to the Qutub Minar station the first station in Delhi is going to be a problem.

The nearest bus stands Lado Sarai and Andheria More are almost a kilometre away and the only way to get there is by auto, which again are difficult to get. Though DTC will start feeder bus service from Central Secretariat to Qutub Minar station from June 21, it is yet to decide on the number of buses. ‘‘We will start feeder services the day the line opens. We have not decided on the number of buses, but during peak hours the service will be available every 10 minutes,’’ said Naresh Kumar, chairman, DTC.

‘‘A number of buses cross Qutub Minar Metro station but they don’t stop here. We have to walk almost a kilometre to reach Andheria More or Lado Sarai bus stand,’’ said a labourer at the station site.

Though Chattarpur Metro station is near Andheria More bus stand, the station will not be immediately functional. ‘‘The trains will not stop at Chhattarpur as this station is likely to be opened in August. We got the land in October last year. Therefore, construction work started late,’’ said Anuj Dayal, DMRC spokesperson.

Getting an auto in this area is another problem. Moreover, it can dig a hole in your pocket. Most autos refuse to go by meter and they dont’ ask anything less than Rs 100.

‘‘Getting an auto here is a big problem and one has to shell out a minimum of Rs 100 to go to South Extension and close to Rs 150 for Connaught Place,’’ said Radhika, who stays in Gurgaon and works in a hospital in Vasant Kunj. She added, ‘‘I’m happy that now I can avoid the maddening jams at NH-24 and reach home much faster, but my biggest concern is commuting from Qutub Minar station to my office.’’

Those with cars will have it easy as the Qutub Minar station has parking space for 100-odd vehicles. The 10 stations on this elevated section are Qutub Minar, Chhattarpur, Sultanpur, Ghitorni, Arjangarh, Guru Dronacharya, Sikanderpur, MG Road, IFFCO Chowk and HUDA City Centre. Initially, DMRC will run five trains at a frequency of 12 minutes. It will take commuters close to 27 minutes to travel between the two operational ends Qutab Minar and Huda city centre

1MGD Water Treatment Plant for CWG Village

Even as green lobbyists debate on the depleting groundwater levels in the city, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) chairperson CM Sheila Dikshit on Saturday inaugurated a 1MGD water treatment plant adjacent to the Commonwealth Games Village. Interestingly, raw water for the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) which will cater to the Village residents will be sourced from ranney wells and deep groundwater wells in the Yamuna riverbed.

Confirmed DJB spokesperson, Sanjam Chima, ‘‘The raw water will be sourced from the groundwater in the Yamuna area. The Sonia Vihar plant will be an alternate source, which will be a back-up during the Games.’’ At a time when the government is mulling charging the public for using groundwater as it regulates the extraction, the use of deep borewells and ranney wells for Village residents may raise eyebrows, admit government sources.

On Saturday though, Dikshit preferred to dwell on the technological advantages of the new systems that have been put in the Games Village WTP, as well as a 1MGD sewage water plant that was also inaugurated. While the WTP will provide ‘‘first world’’ quality treated water using the latest UF membrane technology, the STP will have zero discharge of waste water. In other words, not a drop of water except the sludge will be wasted. It will instead be recycled for use within the Village complex.

Said a senior DJB official, ‘‘For the first time, DDA has been persuaded to put in dual pipeline network, so that recycled water can be provided straight to houses for flushing toilets, air-conditioning, and maintaining horticulture at the Games complex. Being 100% automated, the Village STP is the first to be housed inside a building and the biggest to be used using the membrane bio-rector (MBR) technology.

Meanwhile, the WTP will produce potable water meeting WHO and BIS standards, utilizing UV disinfection as it’s a natural and green product. Speaking at the inauguration, Dikshit said, ‘‘To minimize pressure on DJB’s drinking water supply, the treated waste water will be recycled for further use. The Commonwealth Games will be the first Green Games.’’ While the WTP has been built by M/s VA Tech Wabag Ltd, the STP has been built by UEM. The cost of the former is over Rs 35 crore while the latter was constructed at Rs 31.95 crore. Both were built for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in October.

The plant includes a clear water reservoir and a pump house, rejuvenation of existing borewells, raw water supply lines, alternate arrangement for source of water supply, a boundary wall, landscaping, and electricity arrangements with alternative sources.

The plants, incidentally, were running slightly behind schedule, though the Commonwealth Games Village will be handed over to the organizing committee only in August. The Village will host over 8,000 athletes and officials. The Village complex has over 1,000 flats, which will be sold once the Delhi Games 2010 are over, added DDA sources.

Now a Monitoring Committee to Oversee Games Preparations

With barely three months left for the Commonwealth Games, the government seems to be getting serious about monitoring preparations by the organizing committee (OC).

In a move that insiders claim is aimed at ensuring greater participation of both ministry of sports and the Delhi government, the group of ministers (GoM) set up for the Games has come up with a monitoring committee to oversee the preparations. Interestingly, the committee that comprises 12 members has not only the top brass of the OC, including Chairperson Suresh Kalmadi, but also the chief secretary of the Delhi government, Rakesh Mehta, as well as secretary, sports ministry, Sindhushree Khullar. Ostensibly, the mandate of the committee is to aim for smoother implementation of the decisions of the GoM, as well as to look into the nitty-gritties of preparations for the Games.

Said a senior official, ‘‘There have been reports of preparations being behind schedule. At times, the OC has even complained that since much of the work is with government departments, there has been lack of communication. This committee will ensure that doesn’t happen.’’ In fact, sources say the presence of the Delhi CS as well as the secretary (sports) will ensure that OC cannot claim the lack of cooperation by government agencies for delays. One of the reasons for the delay has been the late handover of venues by the construction agencies.

Said Rakesh Mehta, Delhi CS, ‘‘From now on, many inter-departmental issues will come up (for the preparations). We should all be on the same page. This is why the committee has been set up.’’ Mehta admitted that detailed exchange of information was ‘‘needed’’ at this point, so that the decisions of the GoM are implemented at ‘‘every level’’. And while Mehta refused to comment on whether the setting up of the committee was an attempt to monitor the work of the OC, he admitted the presence of the government officials like him and Khullar, would ensure better ‘‘coordination’’.

OC officials denied the mandate of the committee was an effort to monitor the work of the organization. Said OC spokesperson, Lalit Bhanot, ‘‘It’s not at all an attempt to monitor our work, since most of the committee members are OC officials.’’ Bhanot, however, admitted that the committee would be monitoring day-to-day preparations and generate weekly reports.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Games work is the main reason for outages: Discoms

In view of long outages in the city, particularly in south Delhi colonies, power discom BSES Rajdhani has written to the government accusing agencies such as DMRC, DJB, MCD and PWD of damaging the discom’s underground cables during construction activities for the Commonwealth Games.

According to the power utility, during March and May this year when summer was at its peak, there were over 100 instances of their wires being disconnected. Officials said it took a lot of time to restore the damaged cables and till then, consumers had to suffer outages. Top officials of the discom said the repair work alone cost up to Rs 1.38 crores. They said the agencies concerned had been asked to pay damages.

‘‘We have informed these agencies on several occasions. They have been requested that their contractors coordinate with BSES officials to ensure that such accidents are kept to a bare minimum. They have also been told that that such cable damages, besides causing outages can also risk people’s lives and property as many of these are HT cables,’’ said a senior BRPL official.

The discom has requested the government to issue directions to all agencies involved in construction activities in Delhi. BRPL has also written to the agencies concerned regarding payment of damages.

The ongoing frenzy for the Commonwealth Games in October is seeing rapid development in the city with flyovers being constructed, roads being recarpeted.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ride on Gurgaon Metro line from Jun 21

The long-awaited Gurgaon Metro line will be opened to commuters on June 21. The first trains from the end-stations Qutub Minar and Huda City Centre will leave at 8am, bringing the satellite township closer to the Capital. Residents of Gurgaon also finally get a mode of commute within the town.

To start with, trains on the 14.47-km long section will operate at a frequency of 12 minutes. The service will be available from 6am to 11pm.

The residents of Gurgaon finally get a mode of commute within the town. ‘‘The 14.47-km long section will be serviced with five trains in the beginning, which will gradually be increased depending on the response from people. We are expecting the line to be used by about 1.5 lakh people,’’ said a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) spokesperson.

Half of the Qutub Minar-Gurgaon stretch (7.3km) is across the Delhi border. The fully elevated section has 10 stations, located at Qutub Minar, Chhattarpur, Sultanpur, Ghittorni, Arjangarh, Guru Dronacharya, Sikanderpur, MG Road, IFFCO Chowk and HUDA City Centre. Presently, trains will stop at all stations except Chhattarpur, which is still being constructed. ‘‘The Chhattarpur station is likely to be opened by August. The construction of the station was delayed as the land for the building could not be acquired by DMRC till October last year. The DMRC is now constructing the station in record time using pre-fabricated steel structures,’’ the spokesperson added.

All stations on the line will double up as foot over bridges even for non-Metro commuters and unlike other Metro stations, are equipped with escalators on both sides of the road. The last stop at Huda City Centre is a visual spectacle as the six-storey Metro station will have a Metro train zip across the ‘‘green’’ building — it has been designed in a manner that the train can be seen passing from outside. The corridor has received clearance from the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety.

By next month, the line will be extended all the way to Central Secretariat, linking the stretch to the existing Line 2 (Central Secretariat to Jehangirpuri). After the middle stretch becomes operational, the full line from Huda City Centre to Jehangirpuri will become the longest Metro line in the city. Once the Gurgaon section begins, DMRC plans to start train trial runs on the rest of the section, construction of which is fast nearing completion.

Now You Can Drive at the speed of 120kmph to Haridwar

The drive from Delhi to western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand will soon be a breeze for commuters and tourists. With the Uttar Pradesh government all set to start work on an eight-lane expressway connecting Greater Noida and UP-Uttarakhand border in Muzaffarnagar along the Upper Ganga canal, long snarls on NH-58 the existing route will be a thing of the past.

The access-controlled expressway project will have the design speed of 120 kmph. The stretch will not only provide an alternate route to the congested NH-58 (Delhi-Haridwar) but also divert the truck traffic carrying sugarcane from national highway. As per the bid document of the expressway project, the canal along the proposed stretch will be used for navigational facilities. Presently, trucks loaded with sugarcane often cause congestion on NH-58.

‘‘The transportation of sugarcane through water channel will be cheaper than through road network. Steamers can easily navigate in the canal and can carry farm produce and other cargo. In certain stretches, the canal may have to be widened marginally,’’ said a senior official UP Expressway Industrial Authority (UPEIDA).

The project is set to take off soon with the state government already holding two rounds of pre-bid meetings. The concessionaire for the Upper Ganga Canal Expressway is likely to be finalized next month. Secondly, the biggest advantage for UP government to fast-track the project execution is that the land required for the expressway is already available with the state irrigation department, which can easily be leased out to the private developer. The project will be completed within 36 months from the date of appointment of the concessionaire.

Officials said that approximately 45 meters of right of way (RoW) is available with the irrigation department on the right side of the canal, which is sufficient to build an 8-lane expressway. Five locations along the canal have been identified for the cargo transportation landing facilities. Officials said that the expressway could give boost to economic development in Bulandshahr, Gautambudh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur districts.

To make the project viable and for optimum utilization of the canal water, the developer will also be allowed to generate hydro electricity of approximately 37.4MW. Seven locations have been identified for setting up of the electricity generation plants in Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Ghaziabad districts.

Fed Up of Power Cut: Blame Ongoing 2010 Games Work

Power cuts have become a regular affair this summer. However, this time the situation is not just a result of overdrawing by neighboring states. As part of the Games preparations, the capital’s power transmission utility Delhi Transco has been shutting several important electricity lines for civic agencies to carry out work over the past two months. With this, even available power has not been able to reach several households in peak summer.

On Wednesday, too, south Delhi was hit by several outages. Vasant Kunj residents were for a second consecutive day without power for up to six hours. ‘‘On Tuesday, we had no power for 10 hours. On Wednesday again power went off at noon and was restored only late in the evening,’’ said Amit Aggarwal, a member of the RWA. These outages, say sources, were probably a result of Transco’s shutdown of the Mehrauli-Bamnauli transmission line to erect a transmission tower near Rajokari flyover for better power supply to IGI Airport. This is not the first instance when Games-related work has led to closure of transmission lines this summer.

Earlier, the 220kV Maharani Bagh-Lodi Road line was first shut in February/March for about 10 days and again from April 9 to April 28. This shutdown was necessitated by ongoing work on Barapullah Nullah. In May, Transco shut the crucial 220kV Badarpur-Okhla line almost for the entire month, this time for DMRC. Transco said it had to increase the height of a tower near Sarita Vihar to allow the Metro a better passage. One more transmission line was shut by Transco near Rajghat power house for tower work this summer.

Moreover, transmission lines have also been hit by several technical snags. On Wednesday, power in south Delhi colonies was further affected when one of the Badarpur-Mehrauli lines tripped. The forest department was pruning some trees in the area and a few branches fell on the line. The line could be restored only by evening and south Delhi areas witnessed outages on a rotational basis, said discom sources.

Though power sector experts agree that shutdown of these lines was essential keeping in mind the Games related work in the city, they added that the timing of the shutdown could have been more consumer-friendly. ‘‘Shutting critical lines in peak summers always leads to a disaster. These could have been shut earlier in the year when demand was not so high,’’ said an expert. Delhi Transco, however, said that the transmission line was not shut on their account. ‘‘The Maharani Bagh-Lodi Road line was closed for the PWD, Badarpur-Okhla line for Delhi Metro and Mehrauli-Bamnauli line for IGI Airport. We closed the transmission lines as per their request to facilitate ongoing work in the area. They needed it for development work,’’ said a Transco spokesperson.

Street Food Vendors a Big Hurdle for Games

Ramashray Yadav’s case of kulfi has images of gods and goddesses pasted all over it. He needs the blessings. Never the most lucrative or even an easy means of livelihood, his kulfi-cart’s future is more precarious now. The MCD’s plan to evict street vendors before the Commonwealth Games begin in October this year will mean an end to Delhi’s street food culture. Yadav and thousands of his fellow hawkers will be robbed of their livelihood, and office and market areas to which they generally cater will go back to lunch boxes.

About 20% of the vendors about three lakh are into food, says Arbind Singh of National Alliance of Street Vendors of India. And this number includes the pedigreed ones in old Delhi as well as the newer ones catering to office-goers and budget shoppers in the rest of the city.

Running ‘Yadav ki Mashoor Kulfi’ at the same spot at ITO for over two decades, Yadav’s no upstart either. Originally from Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, he learnt the job from his cousin who runs a successful trade at Jhandewalan. He enjoys the endorsement of ITO’s office crowd and has, on occasion, received their assistance. He and brother Rammilan split the day’s profit usually Rs 100-150 between them. That supports a family of 11 members.

‘‘They specialize in onetwo items only and become known for them. You get litti, machchi pakori, all kinds of naan. There’s no regional dish you won’t get in Delhi. Some vendor or the other is doing it. And it’s cheap,’’ says Singh.

At Hari Om Kashyap’s thela in Acharya Niketan market, Mayur Vihar Phase I, you get two-three varieties of subzi, raita and two naans of your choice there are about half a dozen varieties all for Rs 20. He is also the only one in the vicinity with Amritsari naan on the menu. This special bread has atta, maida, suji and when it emerges from the tandoor, he slaps some butter onto it. Around 250 customers, most of them regulars, have their meals at his cart every day.

And once a fortnight, the dreaded ‘‘committeewale’’(vendor-speak for MCD officials) come on rounds. ‘‘We run when they come. But sometimes the police take away our
carts,’’ he says. Police visits are less frequent but Kashyap has had his cart confiscated and been fined to the tune of Rs 1,000-1,500.

Yadav and Kashyap have done what they could to secure their positions. They applied for licenses in 2007, deposited papers and collected the ‘‘parchi’’ and a promise that licenses will be delivered to their homes. But nothing happened. The MCD’s eviction threat included the assurance that ‘‘authorized’’ vendors won’t be touched. And there lies the catch. ‘‘No more than 3,000 vendors are licensed in the city. Not a single hawking zone has been created but there are dozens of zero-tolerance ones,’’ says activist Madhu Kishwar, also a member of the expert committee on street vendors.

Food critic Vinod Dua is more confident about the walled-city vendors’ chances of survival. After all, they’ve had over a century to dig in their heels. ‘‘Street food is fine as long as it has roots somewhere. In old Delhi, it’s been around for centuries. Dahi Bhalla, Gol Gappa, they’ve been around. It’s a tradition, there are songs associated with people selling kulfis,’’ he says.

‘‘When we go abroad, we head for the flea markets, the hawker markets. Where do you go when you’re in Bangkok? They are a prime tourist attraction,’’ argues Kishwar. She and Singh maintain street food cooked fresh before your eyes is in fact more hygienic with less harmful bacterial content than restaurant food. ‘‘The condition of kitchens behind doors is appalling,’’ says Kishwar.

‘‘Street food is a major attraction for foreigners,’’ agrees Sunit Suri of Thomas Cook, but he is forced to direct his clients to ‘‘midway’’ joints like Nathus, Bengali Sweets and Dilli Haat to get a more hygienic though regrettably indirect taste of the streets and avoid the ‘‘Delhi-belly’’ at the same time. ‘‘Nobody wants to eat in a five-star. They’d rather go to Chandni Chowk and try the typical Indian food from the streets,’’ he says. ‘‘We should encourage them. If they maintain minimum hygiene standards, it will be a highlight,’’ he adds.

Singh agrees. ‘‘If there is security of livelihood, they can be taught
how to dress, to wear gloves and trained in handling food. That’s not difficult to do. Provide them a secure space, access to water and safe disposal of waste. Lay down the norms, they’ll follow.’’

Games T- Shirts, Caps and Other Merchandise in Market from July

From next month, expect to see the market flooded with T-shirts, pens and other merchandise sporting the Delhi Games 2010 logo.

As part of the organizing committee’s (OC) efforts towards revenue generation, licenses for sale of products associated with the Games have been given out. These products are scheduled to hit the market by next month, according to sources.

Said a senior OC official, ‘‘From T-shirts and jackets to mugs and fridge magnets, a whole range of products with the Games logo will be on sale from July.’’

The merchandising and licensing function is expected to be one of the main sources of revenue for the OC, which has got a loan of Rs 1,620 crore from the Central government for the Games. The OC expects to repay the loan with the revenue earned from sponsorship deals and TV rights.

However, till date, few big deals have been inked apart from those with Bajaj, Coca Cola and a handful of others. Said a senior OC official, ‘‘The licenses for Delhi Games merchandise however, should go a long way towards raking in the revenue.’’

Apart from products like caps and clothing accessories, the OC is also going to allow manufacturers to put the Games logo on wrist bands; umbrellas; key chains; generic items including stationary, collectible, sportswear, casual wear, kids and infant apparel, toys; lifestyle and luxury products; and cultural and handicraft items. Sources in OC say that it will also look into branding artwork, so that it can be a part of the merchandise that would be on offer.

The OC is also planning to tie up with individual groups or organizations for artwork that would be linked with the Games theme, officials said.

Incidentally, the licensing process has been in the works for a long time now. The OC had originally floated the merchandising RFP (request for proposal) in November 2009 to begin the licensing process early for starting generation of revenue. However, the tender was ultimately floated only in April this year. Interestingly, revenue generation by the OC has been under the scanner as not many big deals have been signed by the sports body for the upcoming Games.

Residing in Gurgaon, Be Ready to Pay More for Power

Even as they cry foul over erratic power supply, the residents of Gurgaon and the rest of the state will see a substantial hike in their electricity bill from the next billing cycle.

The Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) has given into the long-standing demand of the two government-owned discoms Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN) and Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) to increase the tariff. The hike has been approved citing increase in fuel cost, said officials.

Residents pay a tariff of 2.63 paisa per unit for the first 40 units consumed but now they will have to shell out 22 paisa more on the same. While the increased tariff of 22 paisa is applicable for the first 300 units, the consumer would have to pay 27 paisa per unit after that. Even without the latest hike, Haryana has one of the highest power tariffs in the country.

‘‘Every six months we ask the regulator for revenue requirement and tell how much money we have spent to purchase the required power. In the past the cost of fuel increased and we have decided to pass it on to the consumer. The period for which the fuel surcharge would be charged from the consumer is from January 2008 to June 2010, and since we don’t want to collect it at one go, we have spread it over a period of four years, starting next month,’’ said Sudhir Rajpal, managing director, DHBVN.

The residents were not happy with the move and said they faced erratic power supply even after paying a very high electricity tariff. ‘‘This hike is uncalled for. The entire city is being run on generator in the absence of consistent power supply. The situation has been the same for the past 20 years. They haven’t bothered to replace the transformers and improve the quality of power supplied. How can HERC increase the tariff without having a public hearing? We will lodge a compliant,’’ said R S Rathee, president Gurgaon Citizens Council.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jat protesters call off agitation

Jat protesters called off their agitation on Monday afternoon, hours after a team of Jat leaders, accompanied by several Ghaziabad officials, held talks with representatives of the Center’s social welfare department in Delhi. The protesters moved away from the Upper Ganga canal, allowing the supply of raw water to be restored to Delhi.

The Jats, protesting against Center’s perceived indifferent attitude towards their demand to bring the community under OBC category, asked the government to announce a new policy for them by July 10. The Jat leaders said if their demands were not met, ‘‘the situation would not pleasant when Delhi hosts the Commonwealth Games’’.

‘‘Water, electricity, petrol, diesel, CNG etc reach Delhi through our fields. If our demands are not met we will be forced to disrupt their supply. In our talks we made this clear to the government officials,’’ said Colonel M S Dahiya, one of the Jat representatives who attended the meeting in Delhi.

Sources in Ghaziabad district administration said the negotiations between protesters and top officials went for several hours on Monday morning before they were successful in persuading the agitators to restore the water supply. ‘‘Centre and UP government were trying to pass the buck. While Centre said the state must deal with the problem, UP government said Jats have issues with the Central government. Finally, Centre agreed to hold talks with us,’’ said one of the key Jat negotiators.

Though water supply from the canal started on Monday afternoon, senior DJB officials said the raw water would not reach Sonia Vihar and Bhagirathi water treatment plants before 6-7 hours.

H P Singh Parihar, vice-president of All India Jat Reservation Sangarsh Samiti, said the talks were successful and they now expect the government to make its stand clear. ‘‘We have been told that the issue is being taken up at the highest level. If they fail to meet our demand, we will take the fight to the next level after July 10,’’ said Parihar.

Earlier in the day, Raghuvir Lal, SSP of Ghaziabad, said the police were deploying a platoon of PAC at the canal to prevent anyone from disrupting the water supply. ‘‘We are making this arrangement for the next few days. Later, we will work out some strategy to prevent any form of attack on the water channel here,’’ the SSP added.