Thursday, July 29, 2010

911 More Low Floor Buses before Games

The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) told the Delhi high court that 911 more low-floor buses would be put on the road before the Commonwealth Games to address the traffic problem in the national capital.

Appearing before a division bench of Justices A K Sikri and Reva Khetrapal, DTC said it would soon introduce more than 900 buses which would increase the strength of its fleet to 6,500.

The court asked the city government to chalk out a plan to address the transport problem in the city in view of the Commonwealth Games to be held in October even as it allowed a four month extension to the government to phase-out Bluelines and replace them with its new fleet.

‘‘We have the Commonwealth Games coming in two months. Do you think from that angle? Many people would be coming to the city,’’ the court said, when senior advocate Kailash Vasudev, who is assisting the court, pointed out that government has failed to form a policy to tackle the problem of shortage of Blue line buses.

The amicus complained that by the Supreme Court order there should be minimum 10,000 buses in the city, but government has failed to increase the number of buses.

The court was hearing a matter in which it had taken suo motu cognizance following an accident involving a Blue line bus in October 2008 in which 8 people were killed at Badarpur area.

The court had directed the phase-out of Blue line buses, after which the city government launched low floor buses last year. It had also directed the city government to frame guidelines for erring drivers, bus operators and owners for violating traffic rules.

Meanwhile, HC also asked the government to place a fresh status report before it on the progress made in installing GPRS in buses as a means to check the speed at which it is being driven and to check accidents.

ASI with DDA Demolished Encroachment around Gol Gumbad

Weeks after conservation work on Lodi-period Gol Gumbad commenced, the state archaeology department along with Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Wednesday finally demolished all the encroachments in the vicinity of the monument. The structure is crucial for the government because of its proximity to Jawaharlal Nehru stadium the main venue for the Commonwealth Games 2010.

The conservation work at the monument is being undertaken by INTACH Delhi Chapter. On Wednesday afternoon, three unauthorized kiosks located a few feet from the Gumbad were removed by DDA. Police was also deployed process as locals protested. ‘‘We requested DDA to hand over the vacant land surrounding Gol Gumbad a long time ago and it took up to two months to settle the issue,’’ said an official from state archaeology department.

Jats Want Reservation: Threaten to disrupt Games

In a protest rally against the Central government for denying them reservation in jobs, thousands of Jats from the nearby districts of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana accompanied by their representatives from Punjab and Kashmir threatened to disrupt the Commonwealth Games if their demands were not met. Police had a tough time stopping the protesters as they attempted to march towards Parliament on Wednesday.

The protest was called off after two delegations of members from the Jat community met senior officials at Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and at 10, Janpath. All India Jat Reservation Sangharsh Samiti (AIJRSS) president Yaspal Mallik said they have been assured that they will be given an appointment with the PM in the next one week and that Congress president Sonia Gandhi will also meet them soon.

‘‘We are giving the top government functionaries enough time to meet our demand. The government must make its promises in public through a statement in the press. If they don’t meet our expectations we will disrupt water, electricity and gas supply to Delhi. The supply of milk and vegetables will also be stopped and we will cut off all rail and road routes leading to the capital,’’ he added.

Even as Mallik claimed the Jats will not resort to any form of violence to win their ‘right’, top leaders, including Mallik himself, did not hesitate before issuing all possible threats to the government about disrupting normal life in the capital. ‘‘Let the government say no our demands; we will change the face of the capital in minutes,’’ one of the speakers warned.

Addressing the rally, Mallik said the protesters marched to Delhi only to tell the government what they were planning to do in case their voices go unheard. Announcing that the Jats will burn effigies of the Queen’s Baton, the Jat leader said, ‘‘We will do this in our villages. All essential services pass through our fields. On September 13, we will block all the roads that lead to the capital.’’

After the two delegations returned from PMO and 10, Janpath, Mallik slightly toned down and said the community was hopeful of a fruitful dialogue. ‘‘But since we don’t know what they will decide, we will continue our planning for the September 13 protest. If our demands are met, we will call off the protest and hold Jat awareness programmes on that day,’’ Mallik said.

Recently, AIJRSS had snapped the water supply to Delhi from the Upper Ganga Canal in Muradnagar.

DLSA Appointed 3 Lawyers Panel for CWG Laborers

Laborers working at Commonwealth Games project sites finally have some reason to smile.

A week since a drive was started by the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA), along with the labor department and Delhi government, to ensure the rights of workers under labor laws, around 2,000 workers have successfully been registered and verified.

DLSA, which appointed a three lawyer panel to look into the condition of Games laborers, is holding camps every day till August 5 at various sites. So far, the panel has visited Akshardham complex, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shastri Park and Indira Gandhi International Airport sites, Tughlaq Road metro station and R K Khanna Stadium.

DLSA project officer Gautam Manan, who is spearheading the drive, said all workers at different sites are being registered as per labor laws. The workers are also being insured against any kind of damage.

‘‘The camps sensitize the workers about their rights and insurance in case of any mishap. Most of these workers are daily wage earners and little do they realize that these things make a difference in their lives,’’ he said.

The DLSA drive comes a week after the Delhi high court directed the government to verify the registration of all workers at Games sites across the capital. Despite the claims of the government that around 3,000 workers had been registered in the last two months, HC in its order on a PIL filed by Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights on the plight of the Games workers took a stern view of the situation. ‘‘It is worth noting that the figures that are stated in the affidavit do not refer to workers employed for the purpose of CWG...the learned counsel for the state could not clarify whether all the workers who are registered are employed in CWG or elsewhere,’’ the court noted on the affidavit filed by the Delhi government saying ‘‘around 4,000 applications were being processed and over 31,000 workers had been registered till date’’.

It directed the Delhi government to verify the ‘‘registrations that had been made’’ and sought the ‘‘exact number of workers registered with the CWG”. The HC also set up a three-member panel a third body apart from a workers’ welfare board and a monitoring committee to sensitize them on their entitlements.

The HC was earlier told that around 48 workers had died at various Games site and due to the absence of any registration; the families of the deceased could not get any compensation.

Yamuna Complex Project is Delayed

On a round to inspect Commonwealth Games projects of MCD and DDA in east Delhi, finance minister A K Walia on Wednesday expressed displeasure at the tardy pace of work at the Yamuna Sports Complex, where archery and table tennis events are scheduled to take place.

‘‘There is a lot of work pending and many efforts need to be put... The way the work is going on, I have doubts over timely completion (of some of the projects),’’ said Walia. A deadline of August 31 has been set by the city government for completing all the Games-related projects. Walia said that a few more extensions may be essential for the sports complex in particular, even though works on the roads and pavements are likely to be wrapped up with just some finishing touches remaining.

Walia reportedly pulled up officials but conceded that things have started looking up since the time the inspection by ministers started. ‘‘Things have improved since the last time we did inspection, but there is still a lot left to be done. And unless we really pull up our socks, some projects may miss the Games deadline causing huge embarrassment for the government. These visits by ministers have at least managed to infuse some sense of urgency in officials.’’

The minister expressed particular concern about the way construction rubbish still remains accumulated on several roads including in front of Akshardham Temple. He also pulled up officials for the broken pavements and ill-kept road near the temple which, because of its closeness to the Games Village, is likely to attract a lot of tourists during the Games.

Games Security to be Reviewed by 31 Countries

Security heads of 31 participating nations, including Pakistan, will take stock on Thursday of the security in Commonwealth Games village and venues where a four-layer protection will be provided during the fortnight-long mega sporting event here in October.

Eight heads of state have confirmed their participation while four more are expected to attend the Commonwealth Games for which, however, no credible terror threat has come yet.

Live security demonstration will be given to the representatives of the Commonwealth countries on Thursday at the Games village at Yamuna Bank and Jawaharlal Nehru stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held. ‘‘They will be shown four-layer security procedure, how to frisk spectators, check vehicles, foil possible terror strike and rescue and evacuation drills,’’ an official said.

Over 10,000 athletes from 71 countries and 500,000 spectators are expected to take part in the Games to be held from October 3-14. According to the security plan, athletes, officials and guests can visit the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium only by bus and no VIPs, except the heads of state, will be allowed to take their cars. Parking arrangement has been made for 150 buses in the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.

Each of the 13 competition venues for the Commonwealth Games will have a tight security ring and special arrangements will be made to transport the athletes to and from the village with helicopters carrying commando snipers keeping eye on the convoys below.

This is to prevent a repeat of the Lahore attack of March 2009 in which militants shot at and injured Sri Lankan cricketers touring Pakistan. To ensure fleet security, each of the 574 vehicles used for ferrying athletes will have to undergo a mandatory anti sabotage clearance every morning before athletes board them.

Queens Baton to Reach Gurgaon in September

After traveling the length and breadth of the country, the Queens Baton Relay of Commonwealth Games will reach Gurgaon on September 29, just before reaching its final destination Delhi.

In order to involve the residents and stir enthusiasm in them, the district administration has announced that outstanding sports persons in the district, who want to run with the baton on its route in Gurgaon city, can apply to the district sports officer Kulwinder Singh by August 15.

‘‘The baton relay is scheduled to stay in Gurgaon on that day. Outstanding players will run with the baton in the areas that are inhabited and will board a vehicle in those areas, which are not inhabited. School and college students carrying national flags would welcome and cheer up the participants for the baton relay at various places in the city,’’ said Gurgaon deputy commissioner Rajender Kataria.

Local Snack Makers Aiming for Games Catering

Some of Delhi’s more popular snack makers could turn out to be the new caterers for Commonwealth Games 2010.

Names like Haldiram, Bikanervala and Fast Trax are making the rounds at the OC office as the last date for the new RFPs (Request for proposals), issued last Saturday, draws near.

Sources claimed that feelers have already been sent by these companies to find out the requirements to compete for the request for proposals. Incidentally, the last date for the two RFPs one for packaged food packets for the workforce and one to cater at the VIP lounge is the end of this month.

Sources claimed that discussions between representatives of the companies and senior OC officials have been taking place over the past few days.

‘‘The interest expressed was for the packaged food RFP,’’ added the source. As part of the RFP, packed meals hour with the responsibility for packing and delivering the food resting with the caterer.

According to officials, a consortium could very well be formed to tackle the job.

With the organizing committee rejecting the proposal made by IRCTC for catering at all the venues, there is now pressure to choose the caterers before September 1, when the staff starts full-time work at the venues as well as at the trade fair grounds, where the media centre is located. According to sources, official functions there have been delayed due to the non-selection of a caterer.

Incidentally, the offer made by IRCTC had been for Rs 150 per plate, bringing the entire budget to a little over Rs 20 crore. Sources said that the OC was looking at more affordable prices.

The organizing committee has been struggling to find caterers for its venues for some time now.

The decision to go for packed meals for its workforce and food stalls in the VIP lounges has raised questions over food safety norms, with many pointing out the huge difference in quality that would become inevitable between the food provided at the Commonwealth Games Village by an international firm and what’s provided at the venues.

MS Gill Says Everything is OK

Sports minister M S Gill rubbished media reports on Wednesday that claimed that some of the Commonwealth Games venues were incomplete and faulty.

Gill said all the venues were architectural and engineering marvels and no leakage or fault had been found at any of the Games venues.

“The fact remains that all these stadiums have no fault. There is no leakage, nothing anywhere. They are all architecture and engineering marvels which will be seen for the first time in India,” Gill told reporters outside Parliament.

“Go to Shyama Prasad Swimming complex, Nehru stadium and look at the essentials. There are no serious faults in any of the stadiums,” Gill said. There have been media reports that Talkatora stadium venue for Commonwealth boxing event, and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Complex, inaugurated on July 18 and billed as the best aquatic stadium by Gill himself, are incomplete.

Gill said only temporary work was left to be done and it would be carried out by the organizing committee. “We still have two months and the engineers and their workforce will take care of the remaining work. All the stadiums will be handed over to the organizing committee on August 1 and then they have to do the temporary fittings and other things,” Gill said.

“The PWD will be there everyday for fine-tuning. We will be coordinating the work. That’s all I have to say,” he said.

MCD Objects on the Layout Plan of Karni Singh Shooting Range

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) refused on Wednesday to approve the layout plan of the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.

According to councilors, since the proposal for widening of the Shooting Range Road is stuck due to various reasons, MCD will not approve the layout plan for the stadium till the road widening matter is resolved.

Sarita Chaudhary, councilor of the area, said: ‘‘I have been demanding widening of this road for over three years now but nothing has been done. The road, which has been upgraded and improved recently, is only 20 meters wide. Since this road has a lot
of curves it can lead to accidents. As per the Master Plan-2021, this road has been demarcated as a 60-meter-wide road and I have therefore been asking officials to widen it by another 40 meters.’’

According to Chaudhary, since the ridge area falls near the shooting range, issues regarding cutting of trees had been raised.

‘‘Even if they take up widening of the road after the Games, I want this matter to be resolved before that. They might construct offices etc during the Games which could come in the way of widening the road so it is best that everything is sorted out before the layout plan is approved. I want MCD officials to demarcate the area necessary for widening of the road.’’

Said a civic official: ‘‘We will now come up with a time bound plan to resolve this matter.’’

Things in Vein: Projects are not fully ready

The spanking new squash and badminton stadium, built at a cost of Rs 329 crore, is complete. Both match and practice courts have the field of play in place. While painting of the walls and rooms, last-minute work on the ceiling as well as touchup jobs like cleaning of windows and other glass enclosures remain, the Siri Fort stadium built by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) at least looks like it is ready to host a sporting event.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all that can be said about this venue, which has been missing deadlines consistently. The landscape work which is sizeable as the stadium has been built on a large track of land (over 10 acres) is nowhere near completion.

Mounds of earth, to be used to construct the undulating green landscape in front of the stadium, lie around even as the temporary parking is still being constructed. An internal report puts the progress of work at 92%. Entry to the complex is hazardous since security bollards have just started being laid. Sources at the site admitted that the security measures, which are now being put in, will take some time to be completed. This includes the hi-tech scanners that will be set up so that screening of vehicles is a seamless process that is connected to centralized computers which will automatically check if the vehicle is safe.

Officials working on the system, being put in place by ECIL, say the entire process will take at least a month to be completed. The approach road, which DDA officials say will be built by the PWD, is only a mud track, which is being dug up to put in new cables. The road within the complex has been concretized, though the track along the Siri Fort Wall a heritage site looks in bad shape. The temporary parking behind the stadium, which was reportedly built over the existing green patch of the Siri Fort sports complex, has tiles lying around. Officials claimed these would be cleared ‘‘soon’’.

As you walk in, the impressive sight of the stadium is marred by the innumerable mounds of dug-up earth which have been left to be cleared by the landscaping department. DDA’s ambitious plan of covering the 10.91 acres of the complex with over 4,000 trees is not likely to be fulfilled. Sources admitted that plans of having seating arrangements along the front of the complex and the Siri Fort wall as well as food outlets have already been shelved. Saplings, which were both specially grown as well as bought by the land agency for a few lakh, can be seen rotting along the debris of the construction site. Officials said the stadium will be inaugurated ‘‘soon’’. ‘‘The basic structure is in place, we just need to finish the remaining. In fact, officials of the organizing committee have already started working from here,’’ said a senior DDA official. But with little being done on the large green tract of land within the complex and the slow progress of the security team, it looks like an uphill task.


Badminton and squash - TOTAL COST : - 329 Crore


Delhi Development Authority Squash court built by Messrs ASB of Germany at a cost of
3 crore

Design of new stadium is Australian with even court seats being imported from there

The glass of the show court was specially imported from Germany

The show court can be dismantled and re-erected anywhere


10 courts; 1 match court; special wooden flooring


3 practice courts and 5 match courts; special wooden flooring

Stadium has specialized aluminum acoustic ceiling


Squash: 4,200
Badminton: 5,000


30 in the squash stadium
50 in the badminton




Basement: 804 (not to be used during the Games);

Surface: 300 Temporary: 400


Rainwater harvesting, affluent treatment plant, solar pre-heat system, re-use of treated water for horticulture, windows with double-insulated glazing

Delhi Cannot Control Jams and Boast of Organizing Games

Delhi Metro is credited with easing congestion on the capital’s roads but on Tuesday night it triggered a massive jam on Delhi-Jaipur highway!

Thousands of commuters were stranded on the high-speed corridor on Tuesday night after a truck carrying a Metro coach hit a road divider near Manesar on NH-8 and broke down blocking both the carriageways. As the highway control room did not have any facility to remove the truck from the spot, traffic in both the lanes came to a standstill. The jam spilled over to Delhi-Gurgaon expressway on Wednesday morning. The situation returned to normalcy only around 11am.

Sources said that some Metro coaches were headed to Delhi from Gujarat. ‘‘While 4 trucks crossed the stretch around 8pm, the last truck carrying a coach hit a divider and its front portion jutted into the fast lane of the other carriageway. It blocked the traffic from Delhi to Jaipur while the rear end of the truck caused massive jams on the Jaipur-Delhi lane,’’ said Hukum Singh, control room officer in highway control room.

The official added that crane available with the control room couldn’t lift the truck and the coach as the coach alone weighed about 60 tones. ‘‘It was removed only on Wednesday morning after DMRC sent its cranes. Our cranes can only lift a weight of up to only 40-45 tones,’’ he added.

Amid delays, commuters were stuck in jam for the entire night on Tuesday. ‘‘We were coming back from Jaipur. We were to reach our Sushant Lok home around 1am but due to jam we remained stuck near Bilaspur for 6-7 hours. The children were thirsty and there was no water,’’ said Chankya Verma, an MNC executive.

Many commuters headed for work too were stranded. ‘‘When I left for Manesar from my Dhaula Kuan house this morning, I absolutely had no idea that I am going to get stuck in a massive jam. I had left home around 7am and after 10.30am, I finally dropped the idea of going there,’’ rued industrialist Sumit Khanna.

Sources said on Delhi-Gurgaon expressway, Hero Honda Chowk and Kherki-Daula toll plaza were worst hit. ‘‘Traffic had come to a standstill at Hero-Honda Chowk. Vehicles took several hours to cross Kherki-Daula toll plaza. There was no movement of vehicles. I was cursing myself for choosing this day to go to Jaipur today,’’ said Amit Mallick, a Delhi resident.

Games Budget on Sky High: CVC eye on 14 Games Projects

With allegations of corruption in several Commonwealth Games projects flying fast and furious, anti-corruption agencies of the government Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are keeping a hawk’s eye on the execution of schemes whose expenditure has far exceeded estimates.

While CVC has confirmed that it is probing the projects, sources in CBI and Comptroller and Auditor General spoke of their growing interest in the Commonwealth Games expenditure because of mounting complaints.

Chief Vigilance Commissioner Pratyush Sinha told Wednesday that CVC was examining the bidding documents of several projects being executed by the Games Organizing Committee, Delhi government as well as Sports Authority of India. Sources put the number of projects under the scanner at 14, saying with complaints pouring in, the number was likely to go up.

Like CVC, CBI has received complaints from diverse sources, including concerned groups and “wronged” parties, about irregularities in awarding contracts running into thousands of crore. The lead-up to the Games has been marred by allegations of corruption and favoritism in the execution of projects many of which were awarded bypassing bidding norms on the ground that there was no time.

The likelihood of a probe into alleged corruption came amid indications of growing fear in Congress that the Games might turn out to be an embarrassment for the government. The apprehension was echoed by Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari at the regular press briefing. Replying to a volley of queries based on reports of irregularities and shoddy work, Tiwari said that the questions being raised were relevant.

Tiwari, however, distanced the Congress from Mani Shankar Aiyar’s scathing comments calling money spent on the Games as a complete “waste”.

Tiwari stressed that Aiyar was a nominated member of Parliament and the successful organization of Games was a matter of national interest.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Contractors Expressed their Inability of August Deadline

The two agencies working on the DDA flats at D6, Vasant Kunj walked out of the project earlier this month expressing their inability to meet the August deadline. The flats were to house 1,500 Indian and 650 foreign technical officials during the Delhi Games. The chief engineer of the site says only 604 of the 5,000-odd flats will be ‘‘definitely ready’’ by August-end while some more may be complete but he cannot give a figure to it. This despite the fact that in the June 29 GoM meeting, vice-chairman of DDA had said there was likely to be a shortfall of only 130 flats which are at a ‘‘very rudimentary stage’’. Chief engineer S R Solanki says DDA is looking at options to get the work done through work orders as there was no time to issue full-fledged tenders.

Solanki said: ‘‘M/s Brahmaputra and M/s A K Mehta were working on eight towers each. Earlier this month both wrote to us saying they cannot complete the work on time. So we are looking at other ways to get it done. Going by the present situation, 476 flats will be ready by the third week of August and another 128 will be ready by end-August. Some more may be complete but it is difficult to commit right now.’’

Interestingly, sources say when the work was awarded to the two agencies, the original plan was to incorporate 1% penalty for delays. However, the agencies managed to get a waiver on the ground that DDA’s lethargic way of functioning had already caused them to lose three months. DDA vice chairman had at the same meeting also informed the GoM that the authority was planning to get additional labor from non-CWG sites shifted to Vasant Kunj to speed up the pace of work which was to be monitored on a daily basis. The agencies walking out have put a spanner in the works. The GoM had talked about options of blacklisting defaulting contractors but DDA sources say that now the priority is to get work back on track rather than penalizing errant agencies.

500 Persons Strong Team to Polish City

With only 72 days left for the Commonwealth Games, Delhi government seems to be getting the jitters. To ‘‘polish up” the city for the Games, the government is planning to put a workforce of around 500 persons, drawn from departments other than the PWD, on the job of scrubbing the city clean.

After sending government officers on a malba-removal drive, chief minister Sheila Dikshit, while giving a pep talk to officials in charge of the Games, told them to ‘‘concentrate on giving finishing touches”.

Under the proposal, the workers will be drawn from the government’s department of flood & irrigation, and slum and JJ development. A meeting to finalize the plan of action is expected to take place on Friday.

According to the proposal, the departments will hire labor on contract to work on various PWD street scaping and beautification projects for the Games. The job of these shadow laborers will be to clean up what is left behind by contractors and to fix trouble spots like broken or missing tiles.

To supervise these emergency workers, nodal officers will be appointed and who will also prepare reports on the quality of work carried out by respective contractors.

Minister in charge of the PWD, Raj Kumar Chauhan, refused to comment on the payment plan for these 500 men but sources said they will be hired by the departments charged with the task of contracting the workforce.

To boost the spirits of officials working on Commonwealth Games-related projects, chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who has been expressing her discontent over projects with frankness at regular review meetings, chose to soften her stand on Thursday. In a pep talk, she exhorted all PWD engineers and officers to concentrate on quality finishing work.

‘‘It is time to rise to the occasion and make Delhi ready to host an international sports event which will be witnessed by billions of people around the world,” the CM said.

She instructed the officers to complete streetscape works since much of it has been found unfinished at a number of places because of the large quantum and pressure of work. She further asked the PWD to concentrate on roads leading to the Commonwealth Games Village and other Games venues, reiterating the September deadline for all greening-related work.

Dikshit announced that all engineers will be rewarded suitably, probably with a month’s salary, after the successful completion of the Games.

ASI Hires a British Firm to Repair Mangey Bridge

A British firm has been roped in by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to help in the conservation and repair of Mangey Bridge. The century-old monument built by the British connecting Salimgarh Fort and Red Fort was damaged as heavy traffic movement underneath scraped off the inner arch of the structure.

A team of 15 engineers from UK-based firm Cintec known world over for its patented anchoring system has been specially brought in from Newport for the task, along with four expert drillers. While the work normally takes up to three months, Cintec officials said they had been requested by ASI to work on a tighter deadline in view of the Commonwealth Games in October. The firm is thus targeting to wrap up the work that started less than one week ago within a month.

Said a senior ASI official: ‘‘This is a new technology which has not been used in a Delhi monument till now. As part of this, the structure, without being dismantled in any way, will be anchored with steel bars to strengthen it. After the restoration of Mangey Bridge, we are contemplating using the same technique for structural strengthening of a tomb across Delhi high court, where Delhi Metro is constructing an underground parking lot.’’

Abhishek Singh, project manager for the firm in India, said: ‘‘First, we carry out a structural analysis of the monument to identify the weak points and causes behind these. Accordingly, we decide on the anchoring design. To strengthen the structure we use two components stainless steel rebars and grout.’’

For this bridge, the firm followed the same method and found several weak points caused as a result of heavy vehicle movement and vibrations. ‘‘The bridge was consolidated after which we brought in the steel enforcements. Following this, we will be recreating the lost portions to maintain the originality of the bridge and then strengthen it with a stainless steel backbone.’’

While Cintec has been associated with several such projects worldwide, in India this is the first time the firm is working on heritage buildings. The work portfolio of the firm includes Egypt’s pyramids, Hibbs Temple and also Buckingham Palace. The company has also been identified by Indian Railways for work on their arched bridges. ‘‘We have been asked by the railway board to help in the instrumentation of bridges to assess their preparedness for increased load,’’ added Singh. Besides working on strengthening a bridge near Lucknow for Northern Railway, Cintec was approached by CPWD a few years ago to make the residence of Chief Justice of India more earthquake resistant.
Several months ago the bridge was found to have suffered heavy damage because of overloaded vehicles plying underneath. PWD had agreed to realign the road to ensure all heavy vehicles pass under the highest point of its arch to prevent any further damage after repair work was completed.

The bridge is located on a highway that caters to a high number of heavy vehicles on a daily basis. Earlier, ASI had requested the traffic police to change the route taken by heavy vehicles but were told that it was not possible as it was a highway. ‘‘Another major problem is the relaying work carried out by civic agencies every year which results in increasing the road level by several inches,’’ said an official.

Visit CP only if you excess time in hand

If you are planning to visit Connaught Place anytime soon, make sure you have time on your hand. Driving from Outer Circle to Inner Circle in peak hours may take a good 30 minutes, according to traders.

The ongoing construction work in the area has made CP a commuter’s nightmare. With parking lots being constructed outside all 14 blocks, motorists have started parking their cars on the road along Inner Circle. The road has further shrunk due to footpath work being carried out around Central Park. Interestingly, the footpath was restored only four years ago by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) but NDMC is working on it again to ‘‘bring uniformity in the area’’.

Questioning the NDMC for redoing the footpath, New Delhi Traders Association (NDTA) president Atul Bharghav said: ‘‘There was no need to re-lay the footpath outside Central Park again. DMRC had restored it after completing work at CP station. The footpath seemed to be in good condition. This additional work has just led to further slowing of traffic in the area.’’

Confirms Rakesh Sharma, who works in CP. ‘‘It took me 20 minutes to enter Inner Circle from Outer Circle in the afternoon and another 10 minutes to find a parking spot. It is a task driving to CP everyday. I dread it. I sometimes have to pay extra to ensure that my car is parked in the parking lot,’’ he said.

While traffic cops act against illegal parking in CP, they too claim there is little else they can do about the situation with hardly any authorised parking space available. Admitting there’s a problem, NDMC spokesperson Anand Tiwari said: ‘‘It’s temporary and will be resolved as soon as the parking lots are ready. Certain parking lots in Inner Circle will be ready by next week.’’

And NDMC’s attempt to create green belts in parking lots outside the blocks has also led to reduced parking space in the area, claim traders.
Bharghav said: ‘‘CP is a commercial hub and more parking should be created here. But NDMC is doing just the opposite by creating green belts, which will take up space.’’ Traders estimate that CP requires space for 9,000 cars at any point of time.

According to Bharghav, NDMC had earlier floated plans for reducing parking in CP and now it’s unwilling to come clear on this matter now. He said: ‘‘The NDMC had earlier proposed doing away with parking in the Middle Circle and reducing parking along the Outer Circle. We have asked NDMC for clarification on this matter several times but they have not given us any reply till date.’’ Meanwhile, NDMC has refuted these claims made by NDTA.

Games Work on, Customers Deserted CP

Right in the middle of the capital, Connaught Place Delhi’s central business district sadly stands isolated. Customers have long deserted it and the only people to be seen are laborers busy digging up sideways and hurriedly laying footpaths.

Restoration work is on at a frantic pace but with only 72 days to go for the Commonwealth Games questions are being raised over timely completion. New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is yet to finish facade restoration work in any of the 14 blocks except for the model ‘C’ block but is confident that August 31 deadline will be met.

Work on subways is also under way but none of the three new subways will be completed before the Games some of them are overflowing with water and have been closed. The existing five subways, which were supposed to be upgraded with escalators, might have to do without them. And the big debate about flooring granite or sandstone has ended in a vacuum with the NDMC deciding not to change it at all.

Allaying fears of delay, an NDMC official said: ‘‘Work is on track. Facade restoration will be completed in three blocks each in Outer Circle and Inner Circle by July 31. Parking is functional outside blocks C and D and more lots will be ready outside E and F by July 31. All the work in CP will be completed by August-end. No changes will be made to the flooring.’’

But traders are keeping their fingers crossed. Only 60% of the work has been completed. Said a trader: ‘‘With the way things are progressing, it seems unlikely that the facade restoration work in the backlines of the 14 blocks will be completed before the Games. There is no proper planning.’’ The traders gave the example of blocks-G and H where hardly any work seems to have taken place in terms of facade restoration.

While NDMC is not willing to accept that the CP project will miss its deadline, it has still suggested putting up visual breaks in areas where work has not been completed, according to traders. This could include putting up curtains or placing plants. Said New Delhi Traders Association, secretary Vikram Badhwar: ‘‘We agreed for facade restoration work because we thought it would give us a competitive advantage over malls. However, we never thought that it would translate into losses.’’

Traders feel that the situation is far worse than what is being projected by NDMC as the civic body has already missed the deadline — June 30 — laid down by it earlier. According to traders, planning to restore CP to its original glory began in 2006. The work on the project started in 2007, with NDMC taking up the model ‘C’ block — which was only completed in 2009.

Asked a trader: ‘‘What led them to believe that they could complete everything by the Games when they started only in 2009. Who is answerable for the Rs 600 crore they have spent on the CP restoration project?’’

Kunwar Raj Singh, owner of S.M & Sons, said: ‘‘My shop is in the Regal block. After digging up the area, they discontinued with the facade restoration work some two months ago. The civic body removed the signboard from the shop also. While we have nothing against the restoration work, NDMC should have taken it up in a more planned manner.’’

Around Rs 600 crore


The facade of all 14 blocks is being restored. NDMC says 90% work is over and certain blocks will be ready by next week. However, traders claim only 60% work has been completed

Traders say only the front facade might be completed before the Games
Work on five existing subways at Janpath, Parliament Street, Super Bazaar, Baba Kharak Singh (BKS) Marg and Kasturba Gandhi (KG) Marg will be completed by August. But some of the subways will be inaugurated without the escalators

The four subways under construction will not be ready before the Games
Service-ducting is on in Middle Circle. NDMC says wires and pipelines will be shifted underground only after Games

Construction of parking sites outside certain blocks has begun and NDMC claims some parking lots in Inner Circle will be ready by next week

While work has started in Inner and Outer circles, NDMC is yet to start construction of parking sites in Middle Circle

NDMC refutes traders’ claims that the civic agency plans to reduce parking in CP

Multi-level parking lots, under construction at BKS Marg and KG Marg, will not be functional before the Games

Customers Stay away from CP: Blame CWG Rubble

As Connaught Place has turned into an inaccessible island, the flourishing business in the market has hit a dry patch. Traders in the Middle Circle complain that customers have deserted them as the area has been completely dug up due to service ducting work.

In other parts of CP, shops are reporting only 30% to 40% sales and traders claim that they have reported huge losses for over a year now.

New Delhi Traders Association president Atul Bharghav said: ‘‘It’s becoming impossible to run a business from CP due to the ongoing restoration work in all blocks. Due to shifting of wires underground, telephones lines have been affected and we face frequent power cuts. Credit card machines too fall into disuse. Customers too have been injured.’’

For traders life does not begin and end with the Games. Paramjeet Singh, owner of Flavours of China in the Outer Circle, said: ‘‘We feel proud that Delhi is hosting the Games but we have to earn a living. For almost one and a half years, my restaurant has seen only 30% business. There was no need for the civic body to take up all the work at one go. It could have been done in a phase-wise manner.’’

‘‘No one wants to enter the Middle Circle due to ducting work. There is no place to walk there, forget parking your car. How am I supposed to earn a living in such a scenario?’’ asked a shopkeeper in the Middle Circle.

Traders claim that it will be a long haul for them even after the Games. Kunwar Raj Singh, owner of SM & Sons, said: ‘‘The work to restore CP will not end with the Games. NDMC has informed us that it will continue with service ducting and subway work even after the Games. The civic body will take up the work from October 24, 2010 and will apparently complete it by March next year.’’

Traders also claim that unofficially they have been told to close their shops for four to five days during Games as CP is part of the cycle race route. So, Games too won’t translate into business for them.

Special Team to keep check on corruption in Delhi Police

Now, the cops will be policing the police. With an RTI reply putting Delhi Police among the most corrupt agencies in the city, top police officers have come to a conclusion that a dedicated squad is needed to keep an eye on their subordinates in the capital.

Sources said there are reports that many cops are cashing in on the construction frenzy and frantic commercial activities before the Commonwealth Games to earn some ‘‘extra bucks’’ in the form of bribes and kickbacks. Senior police officers said the special squad will keep a tab on cops so that they do not turn to corrupt ways.

‘‘For example, we have launched a new tenant verification process across the city in view of the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Every third person in Delhi is a tenant. With only 72 days remaining before the Games, we fear many people may try to bribe police personnel in a bid to get verification certificate quickly without going through the required process,’’ said a senior police officer.

Sources said Delhi Police commissioner Y S Dadwal has asked senior officers to take strong action against corrupt cops. Earlier, while interacting with media persons Dadwal had said he will not tolerate corrupt police personnel.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Now Home Secretary to Keep an Eye on work

A day after both the Delhi government and the Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games were pulled by a Group of Ministers (GoM) in tumultuous meeting, officials in OC on Thursday got busy in last minute preparations at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and other venues. The reason: a visit by home secretary GK Pillai on Saturday.

The visit, which OC insiders say, is important as it’s being seen as a scouting expedition on behalf of the PMO, comes even as some of the projects scheduled for completion have been delayed. Wednesday’s GoM meeting, according to sources, was acrimonious with the Centre questioning the OC on its preparedness. The condition of roads, which have been dug up for beautification as well as for construction purposes, was discussed at length, added officials. The immediate fallout of the GoM is the visit by the home secretary, added sources, which would be a litmus test for the OC’s level of preparations.

OC spokesperson Lalit Bhanot, however, played down the visit by the home secretary, claiming it was routine. ‘‘The home secretary will be visiting some of the important venues like Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and discussing operational issues,’’ said Bhanot, who visited the stadium on Thursday. According to Bhanot, the work at the JN stadium was on schedule. ‘‘The handover should happen as per schedule,’’ he added. Sources said that the stadium, which is the venue for not only athletic events but also the opening and closing ceremonies, was being prepared for the overlay work which is under the OC.

As part of the run-up to the visit by the home secretary, sources in the OC said that security runs would also be conducted. ‘‘The idea is to show the battle readiness of the venues,’’ added the source. Security plans for the venue are elaborate, with dedicated traffic lanes being designated for athletes at the Commonwealth Games 2010.

Cash Strapped OC Sought Sponsorship from NHAI

Facing cash crunch, Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee (OC) has now sought financial assistance in the form of sponsorship from National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Listing how NHAI can benefit from sponsoring the Games, the OC has proposed packages costing Rs 10 to Rs 100 crore that the road agency can ‘‘buy’’.

However, the proposals have not found any takers. ‘‘OC has come out with several options including a proposal which will help us in branding the organization. Though it was originally sent to the road transport and highways ministry (MoRTH), it was passed on to NHAI. We don’t find any reason to pay money for any sponsorship package,’’ said a senior official in NHAI.

He added that even though they were being pursued to accommodate the proposal, NHAI would oppose any such move. ‘‘We get money from Centre to build roads and not to spend it on publicity. We don’t want to sponsor any Games event. We are also opposed to the idea of installing publicity hoarding in the city since it has been banned by the Supreme Court,’’ added the official.

Finding it tough to meet its expenditure, the OC is reportedly approaching different government agencies and public sector undertakings to generate some funds.

Meanwhile, another senior NHAI official said the authority has started work on revamping highways in Delhi. Recently, the road transport and highways minister Kamal Nath held a meeting with chief minister Sheila Dikshit. In the meeting he told Dikshit that facelift work on NH-1, NH-2 and NH-8 would be completed by August. The two will meet again in the last week of this month and would visit the sites.

‘‘Even this facelift work requires money. When we are struggling to raise fund for highways, how can we pitch in with assistance for OC,’’ said the official.

DTC Wants Speed Limit to be Scraped, Moves Supreme Court

Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) moved the Supreme Court on Friday seeking relaxation of the speed barrier of 40 km/hr. A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India posted the matter for hearing by another bench on Monday.

DTC prayed for permission to ‘‘operate its 600 buses in Delhi and NCR areas during the Games without speed-control devices”.

The application cited the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore to drive home the point that ‘‘in the event of a terrorist strike, speedy evacuation/exit’’ will be hampered by the speed governors currently installed in all DTC buses as per a 1997 SC directive.

DTC pleaded that since its fleet of 600 buses will be used to carry only athletes, officials, support staff and the media, they should be permitted to travel at a higher speed. DTC informed the SC that roughly 5,000 new buses purchased by the corporation have ‘‘standard and integral speed governors” that can be recalibrated by a computer.

Pointing out that the public will not be put in harm’s way if the Games buses are driven at a higher speed through ‘‘secure and sanitized corridors’’, the DTC sought a two-month waiver from September to October. It promised to recalibrate the Games buses back to 40km/hr once the sporting event got over.

Earlier, apprehensive that terrorists may attempt to repeat the Lahore bus attack during the Commonwealth Games, the Delhi Police top brass had asked the government and the organizing committee to either replace the DTC’s low-floor buses with Volvos or remove their speed governors.

In a confidential communiqué, the cops had also insisted that dark films be put on the windows of the 600 DTC buses that will carry sportspersons.

For this, Games organizers and the state government exchanged letters to find a solution since the fixing of speed limit is a judicial decision binding on all.

Games on Head, Games caterers told to go

It has all the makings of becoming an international embarrassment for the country. A year after the organizing committee (OC) floated a request for proposal (RFP) for selecting caterers for the 19 Commonwealth Games venues; it has now cancelled all but one, with just 78 days to go for the event.

The only contract that remains is the one for the Games Village, which is with Delaware North-Taj SATS consortium. The decision to cancel the others comes barely two months after the OC had finally selected six firms as caterers in its 11 clusters. The firms had been selected after a long tender process that included the re-issuing of the RFP earlier in March this year.

Confirmed Lalit Bhanot, OC spokesperson, ‘‘The tenders were scrapped as the cost was coming out to be too high.’’

The new caterers will be nominated by the chairperson of the OC, namely Suresh Kalmadi. The decision to both terminate the contracts as well as adopt the nomination process was taken at a meeting of the executive board held on June 27.

OC was not willing to shell out amount agreed upon

With just 78 days to go for the Commonwealth Games, the Organizing Committee has cancelled all but one caterer. Sources say the nomination process is usually adopted when expediting a project. ‘‘Since the Games are two months away, there’s no time to re-float another tender. So nominating a firm and getting approval from the executive board on the nomination was deemed to be the only option left,’’ said a source.

Incidentally, the OC had confirmed the selection of the firms in May this year, after due process. At that time, the firms had submitted not only the plans on infrastructure required to feed athletes and delegates at the venues but also the cost involved. OC had accepted the terms, and intimated selection. Only the letter of award was left to be given as official confirmation of the award of the contract. However, over the past few months, OC had been unwilling to shell out the monies agreed upon with the firms. ‘‘Of the Rs 116 crore budget for catering, Rs 100 crore has been given to the Village consortium. The cost of catering at the rest of the venues was coming to around Rs 70 crore which OC refused to pay,’’ added a source.

The catering issue has been dogging the OC for some time now. With more than 30 lakh meals expected to be cooked during the fortnight of the Games, its one of the most important functional areas. At an estimate, 2,500 meals will be served every hour. To ensure the international standards required for the process, the OC had selected the firms based on specific criteria. Sources say the plan at present is to get the caterer of the Village to prepare meals for athletes and delegates at other venues as well. However, with only two months left, fear of selecting a qualified firm looms large for the organizing committee. Sources say negotiations are on with IRCTC to take over catering at all venues. IRCTC was one of the firms selected earlier to cater at major Games venues.

‘‘The international norm is six months as lead time for catering for any big event like the Games.’’ Some of the firms selected earlier include IRCTC, Nirulas, Old Worlde hospitality and Graviss hospitality.

Kilokri Residents Feel Neglected: Want Their Share of Development

If the Commonwealth Games is the only word that now rings a bell in Delhi’s corridors of power, then the RWA of Kilokri village has found a way to get its problems addressed.

The area, like any other unplanned colony, has its set of problems like water logging, broken roads, illegal constructions and encroachment by vendors. And RWA members along with prominent village elders have hit a unique idea to compel the MCD and Delhi Police to take note of their problems. They have decided to formally invite Games delegates by putting up posters, banners and hoardings along the Ring Road in front of their village.

They have already written to the lieutenant governor informing him about their intentions. “There is a facelift planned for Connaught Place and India Gate to showcase them to the world while Kilokri and Sarai Kale Khan which have greater historical value have been blissfully consigned to oblivion,” said Nand Kishore, general secretary RWA Kilokri village. He says Kilokri was the capital during the rule of Balban and again during the reign of Tomars and Chauhans. Sarai Kale Khan, he says, was constructed by the Muslim chief Kale Khan in the fourteenth century as an inn to be used by visitors coming to Kilokri.

RWA officials of Kilokri firmly believe that if they manage to get some Games delegates to visit the village, the government will have no option but to spruce up the area. They have even requested the Games organizing committee to incorporate the visit in the itinerary.

The village could sure do with the attention. The main road has been encroached by vendors, making vehicular movement impossible. “In case of an emergency, it’s impossible to drive through the place. There have been cases where people have died because they couldn’t be taken to the hospital on time. If there is a fire or any other law and order problem, there’s no way that a fire brigade or a PCR van can get here on time,” said Jai Sharma, a resident.

Some locals allege that the vendors bribe local policemen on a weekly basis to stay put. “They openly claim that they pay the police so nobody can drive them out of this place,” said RWA president Jai Narayan.

However not everyone in the locality seemed to be hating the idea of vendors on their door step. “It’s a matter of great convenience for our women. They don’t have to go far away to buy vegetables and other items of everyday use,” said Virender Chowhan who has been living in Kilokri for over 40 years. “Some retired politicians have no other work so they pick up useless issues like these,” he added. Sachin, owner of a general store in Kilokri also believes that the vendors are not as big a problem as some people make them out to be.

The contrasting opinions notwithstanding, that Kilokri has lived with neglect for a long time, is apparent. Roads are ill-maintained and Sunday afternoon’s brief shower had made them even worse. Vendors’ carts jostled for space in the narrow lanes.

According to Sushil Sharma, vice president of the RWA, both MCD and the local police have been repeatedly informed about the situation but there has been no response. “Vendors are not residents of Kilokri so it is very easy for them to cause law and order problems and then just disappear,” he added.

Some residents have erected tin sheds to park their cars. The constructions are illegal and rampant. “Today there are four parking spots on the road, tomorrow more people will make these constructions. There is nobody to keep tab on illegal constructions,” complained Nafis Ahmed, another resident.

Local police officers claim that they have no vested interest in keeping the vendors in the area. “We moved the vendors away from the main road outside the colony because they were blocking the traffic and therefore they went inside Kilokri. If it’s a problem to the residents then we will take appropriate action against them,” said an officer. MCD’s deputy commissioner (central zone) Deepak Hastir said he is not aware of the issue.

With less than 100 days to go for the Commonwealth Games and authorities focused single-mindedly on making the city look good to the visitors, Delhiites seem to be catching up with the government at their own game. If the Kilokri story works, it might pave way for many such ideas.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Preparations OK BS A Simple Rain and Projects Delayed

Monday’s downpour in the capital may well cause international embarrassment to Delhi. Top Delhi Development Authority officials admit that the Yamuna sports complex, scheduled to hold the table tennis event of the Commonwealth Games, would now be completed only by the first week of September instead of August 1 as previously scheduled, partly because a section of the false ceiling at the stadium shockingly collapsed due to rainwater accumulation.

That doesn’t leave enough time for the crucial overlay work to be completed by the Games’ inauguration, unless it’s started before the venue is totally ready. Officials said the time taken to reconstruct the false ceiling an estimated fortnight or longer has added to the delay.

Said a senior DDA official, ‘‘The handover date has been fixed as August 1, which will not be an issue as far as the Commonwealth Games Village is concerned. But work at both Siri Fort and Yamuna sports complex (YSC) will take longer, with lock-down expected to be September 3.’’ ‘

Roof design complicated, repairs will take time

While leaks were detected at Siri Fort during the rain, a section of the false ceiling at the Yamuna sport complex came down due to accumulation of rainwater. Officials admitted that repair work at the Yamuna sports complex would take time especially as a part of the ceiling had to be taken down. Said the official, ‘‘Since the roof design is complicated, the work is time consuming. Besides the ceiling, there are other areas which also need to be wrapped up.’’

However, senior officials in DDA claim despite the ceiling collapse at YSC and the leak at the Siri Fort complex, work will be finished in time. Said Veena Ish, principal commissioner (CWG), ‘‘The work should be completed soon. Handover will take place as scheduled.’’

While debris continues to be spread all around the venues, work is still going on at both places. The approach roads are yet to be finished while landscaping work hasn’t even got off the ground.

DDA meanwhile admitted on Wednesday that ‘‘due to the heavy downpour, rainwater gutters provided for roof drainage overflowed resulting in seepage of water and some damage to the false ceiling at few locations.’’ However, it claimed that no damage was reported ‘‘except uplifting of maple wood flooring at few places and a few electrical installations’’.

OC officials meanwhile tried to play down the incident. Said Lalit Bhanot, spokesperson for the OC, ‘‘Since overlay work has already started, the delay will not be a problem. We have been assured the handover will take place as scheduled on August 1.’’

At Last Zamrudpur Site Work is Finnnnniiiissss…….ed

One year after an under-construction pier collapsed at a Delhi Metro site at Zamrudpur in south Delhi killing six persons, a yagna was organized by the contractor to pray for safety of all.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has reportedly completed the construction of Pier-67 which was razed after the incident and redesigned for strengthening. The construction of the elevated girder connecting piers 66 and 67 has also been completed, marking the end of the challenging civil construction work at the mishap site.

‘‘The contractor organized a small puja and distributed sweets on the site on Monday evening. This was to mark the completion of the construction work on this stretch of the Badarpur line,’’ said sources. Local police officials were also present for the yagna.

The Pier-67 had collapsed on July 12 last year killing six construction workers.

The Amar Colony police too took part in the havan. ‘‘We had seen one of the worst accidents in DMRC’s history. It was a gesture on our part to mourn all those who died here,’’ said an officer from the southeast district police.

Now Schools are also participating to promote Games

There may be little excitement visible yet for the Commonwealth Games on the streets of the capital, but schools here are already upbeat about the sporting extravaganza. Schools are planning to organize various activities and events related to the Games to get children interested in the event and also create awareness about the players, sporting events and the countries participating.

According to school authorities, since the country is hosting an international event, it’s imperative that children realize its importance and feel proud of it. Bloom Public School in Vasant Kunj will be holding a mock opening ceremony followed by various competitions from next week. These activities will even be used for continuous and comprehensive evaluation. ‘‘Different classes will act as different countries and take part in the competitions. We are also designing worksheets based on the history of the Games, stadia, players and related trivia,’’ said principal Ashutosh Batta. He added, ‘‘We will have weekly worksheets for the 10 weeks remaining for the Games to start. These activities will be informative and also help instill a sense of patriotism in the children.’’ The school has also prepared a song for the Games. At Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar, students will have to collect daily updates on the preparations for the Games from August 1 and a bulletin board will be exclusively dedicated to create awareness about it. ‘‘All material for the board will be made by the students. We have also written to the CWG committee to let our students participate in the opening ceremony. We are also contacting the ASI to let our students volunteer as guides at historical monuments during the Games,’’ said Principal Madhulika Sen.

Jyoti Bose, principal, Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan, said, ‘‘By getting students interested in the event, we can create the right ambiance for a sporting event of this nature.’’ Springdales School is inviting former cricketer Steve Waugh to talk on sports.

Apeejay School, Pitampura, is organizing special sporting events. ‘‘We will also hold inter-class competitions. There will be display board decorations and essay writing on the history of Commonwealth Games, India’s past performance, facilities in the city and other related topics. Teachers will guide students through the coming weeks on everything about the Games,” said principal D K Bedi.

Games T Shirts and Caps Available Flout Them All

Days after raids were carried out by a local commissioner of the Delhi high court on outlets selling counterfeit Delhi Games 2010 merchandise; the organizing committee (OC) is getting its act together. It has asked the company chosen to manufacture and sell Games merchandise, Premier Brands, to bring out the products by the end of this week. Confirmed Lalit Bhanot, spokesperson for the organizing committee, ‘‘The souvenirs and other Games related merchandise will be available from later this week. A range of products have been specifically designed as a run-up to the event, from T-shirts to key chains and other items.’’

The decision to fast track sales comes on the heels of the organizing committee coming out with a public notice about its copyright of the Games logo and design earlier this week.

According to Bhanot, the IPR for the logo and other Games-related designs were registered some years ago but were again taken out as a public notice because the OC had received several complaints about copyright infringement.

‘‘The latest incident of fake Delhi Games merchandise has prompted the OC to come out with such public notices more regularly,” claimed Bhanot.

Incidentally, Premier Brands was one of the sponsors of the Badminton Association of India at the Asian Badminton Championship earlier this year. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Compact Disc India Ltd and an organized brand licensing and merchandising company.

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 revenue earned from sponsorship deals and TV rights. However, up to now, few big deals have been signed apart from with Bajaj, Coca Cola and a handful of others. Said a senior OC official, ‘‘The licenses for Delhi Games merchandise should go a long way towards raking in the revenue.’’

Apart from products like caps and clothing accessories, the organizing committee is also going to allow the manufacturer to put the Games logo on wrist bands, umbrellas, key chains and generic items including stationery, collectibles, sportswear, casual wear, apparel for kids and infants, toys, lifestyle and luxury products and even cultural and handicraft items.

OC sources said it will also look into branding art work, so that it can be part of the merchandise that will be on offer.

The organizing committee is also planning to tie up with individual groups or organizations for art work that will be linked to the Games theme, added officials.

Special Bus Service for Tourists

Starting September 15, Delhi will join an elite list of international cities which have a ‘hop-on, hopoff’ bus service for tourists.

With three designated routes that include not just monuments but also museums, parks, shopping areas and foreign exchange bureaus, the buses will ply at intervals of 10 minutes to 15 minutes just like in other foreign cities, including London, Paris, Rome, New York, Sydney, Singapore, Barcelona and others. Though the service has been started with an eye on the Commonwealth Games, it will continue after the sporting extravaganza.

To start with, 15 buses will run on the designated routes to cover monuments such as Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, Qutab Minar, Purana Qila, Begumpuri Masjid, Hauz Khas monuments and Tughlaqabad Fort, and other places of interest in Mehrauli area and Lutyens’ Delhi. The routes will also cover shopping areas like Connaught Place, Santushti Complex, Khan Market, malls, Dilli Haat, museums, Commonwealth Games venues, parks, foreign exchange bureaus and even popular eating joints.

‘‘The service will start from September 15 with 10-15 buses. Based on the response, more buses and routes will be added after the Commonwealth Games,’’ said Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta.

The buses will be luxury coaches with large window panes that will enable visitors a clear view of the city from every seat. The government is going for air-conditioned, low-floor buses. ‘‘We needed CNG buses and finding an open/glass top double-decker variant in CNG was not possible. But we will look at introducing such buses after the Games,’’ said Rina Ray, managing director, Delhi Tourism. To make them look attractive, the buses will be painted in bright colours and the exteriors will reflect the character of the tours on offer. Every bus will also have a dedicated guide on board, along with specialized audio guides and literature, to keep the visitors updated on the sites as they pass by. Every trip will be of 2.5 hour to 3 hour duration.

The project started off as a joint effort between Delhi Tourism and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), but the latter pulled out due to excess workload before the Games. Now, the buses will be run by a private operator. The routes
have been decided in consultation with INTACH. ‘‘The service is not just
aimed at foreign tourists. We are also targeting national tourists and Delhiites who would like to explore the city. The fare, though yet to be finalized, will be nominal,’’ Ray added.

Buses run on predefined routes at regular intervals. Tourists can choose a route and board any bus. They will have the option of getting off at a place of their interest on the way and have the choice of taking any of the later buses on the same route. The ticket has a day-long validity. ‘‘The entire plan is to empower tourists who come to the city during the Commonwealth Games. As of now, three routes have been finalized but more will added after the Games. The service will follow the model used abroad, where buses visit places of interest and
not just monuments,’’ said AGK Menon, Convener, INTACH.


A dedicated fleet of buses will take tourists to monuments, museums,
shopping areas, foreign exchange bureaus, parks, CWG venues. Buses will run at a frequency of 10 to 15 mins. Tourists can stop at a site & take the next bus


Each bus will have a trained tourist guide, and literature and audio guides about the places of attraction. The buses will be air conditioned


Three routes decided, a fleet of 15 buses will ply. More buses will be added based on the response. The service will continue after the Games too. The buses will be run by a private operator for Delhi Tourism


Sept 15, 2010


London, Paris, Sydney,Rome, Barcelona, New York, Singapore

We are Fed Up of Debris and Delhi CM too

A day after a heavy downpour plunged the city which is to host the Commonwealth Games in less than three months into complete chaos, chief minister Sheila Dikshit visited various project sites on Tuesday and asked the agencies involved to remove all construction material and debris by August 10. Expressing concern over the extensive water logging in the city on Monday evening, she said the ongoing construction activities by PWD, MCD, NDMC and DMRC had aggravated the problem.

The CM underlined the urgent need for maintenance and upkeep of roads at a meeting held at the secretariat. It was attended by PWD minister Raj Kumar Chauhan, chief secretary Rakesh Mehta, principal secretary to the chief minister P K Tripathi, principal secretary (PWD) K K Sharma and senior officials from the Union urban development ministry, MCD, NDMC, PWD and DMRC.

Chauhan was out with his officials all of Tuesday to check if the debris was being removed or not. That, however, seems to be a Herculean task as the entire city seems to be caught in the throes of an epidemic of digging without any method to the madness.

Games venues crumble under heavy downpour

Monday’s heavy rain not only led to water logging in the city but also caused damage at Commonwealth Games sites as well.

The false ceiling of the Yamuna Sports Complex (YSC), Vivek Vihar, collapsed damaging sports equipment and furniture in the stadium which is being prepared for table tennis and archery events. In another incident, water gushed in to the Siri Fort Sports Complex (SFSC) through a gaping hole in the ceiling which was being repaired on Monday night.

Due to the heavy rain, water accumulated on the roof and the false ceiling at the YSC collapsed. Ironically, the roof is supposed to be the highlight of the stadium. This is the same Commonwealth Games venue which has been missing deadlines after deadlines because of the complex nature of the roof structure. The authorities have rebuild the stadium with the roof as the focal point and a huge amount of money has been spent for making the roof.

Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials, however, refused to comment on the matter.

The SFSC also got filled up with water after the downpour, with DDA officials claiming that it was due to an under-construction roof. According to DDA officials, workers were fixing pipes on the roof when the rain came and due to the gaping hole on the roof the water entered into the stadium. DDA officials said there was no damage to property nor anyone was hurt in the incident.

Nearly All Venues Ready, Remaining to Complete Soon

Seven out of 10 Commonwealth Games venues, which were entrusted to the CPWD, are ready and work on the rest will be over in a fortnight.

"We have already completed work on seven of the 10 Games venues. The remaining three will be completed in a fortnight," Director General of CPWD B K Chugh told reporters here on the 156th foundation day of the organisation.

CPWD is the main construction arm of the government and is undertaking the construction of projects related to the Games along with Delhi government and the Sports Authority of India.

The venues which remain incomplete so far are the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the SPM Swimming Pool complex and the new weightlifting stadium in the Nehru Stadium complex.

Chugh said that the civil work in all these venues have been completed and only peripheral work like greenery, pavements and laying of cables was being done which is expected to be over in another 15 days.

The CPWD DG said the JLN Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremony would be held along with the major events, has an innovative design for roof over seating tier. State-of-the-art technology has been used for sports lighting.

"This would be the largest membrane roof structure in the world," Chugh said. Membrane roofing is used to prevent leaks and move water off the roof.

Asked about the delay in construction of the main stadium, he said an additional work of tunnel construction was given which delayed the project for a while.

An air-conditioned tunnel for the performers of the opening and and closing ceremonies has been completed inside the stadium below the athletes' track and arena.

"This requirement came quite late and to accommodate this tunnel, all the remaining works related to roof, track etc had to be rescheduled," he said.

"Cable supported halogen balloons would also be placed inside the stadium which required a base, thus delaying the project," he added.

Heavy Downpour Games Preparation Reality

A temporary roof of a table tennis court in the Yamuna Sports Complex, one of the venues for the Commonwealth Games, collapsed in the heavy rains that lashed the capital, an official said Tuesday.

Apart from the roof collapsing, the table tennis courts were flooded in the showers late Monday as the drain pipes were choked, leading to damage of sports equipment and furniture as well, said an official of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

'The water has been pumped out. Action was initiated immediately and the complex will be restored soon,' he added.

The Yamuna Sports Complex in Karkardooma, east Delhi, is one of the venues for the Commonwealth Games and table tennis and archery preliminaries will be held there.

Delhi recorded 51.4 mm of rainfall Monday with wind speeds of 80 kmph at Palam, which led to waterlogging and traffic jams in many parts of the city.

SASNOC to Send 66 Members for 2010 CWG

Samoa has confirmed it will send a team to the 19th Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October.

The Samoa Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee says there will be 66 competitors and officials.

The Committee says Team Samoa's selection is based on the performance of the athlete's performance on previous International games they played.

Team Samoa will leave on September the 27th in time for the official opening on October the 3rd.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Official Hotel for CWG, Hotel Ashok Running Without Fire Clearance

Ashok, the official hotel for the Commonwealth Games, is functioning without a valid fire clearance certificate for more than a month now. In gross violation of safety norms, the hotel including some floors where the fire safety system was reportedly taken ‘‘off the loop’’ for renovation work is open to guests.

While hotel officials claimed the certificate is due any day and the inspection is over, the concerned divisional fire officer said that the department has been ‘‘too busy of late’’ and the inspection is pending for a month now. He also conceded that the department normally does not allow any ‘‘grace period’’ for renewal of the certificate and hotels have to do so annually. But, he made it clear; some concessions can be made for a hotel that has cleared the fire test for 30 years now.

Meanwhile, a complaint received by the office of the commissioner of police (reference number 5383/email dated 12/6/2010) and the fire department has alleged that none of the sprinklers in the hotel are working.

The divisional fire officer said there is no truth in the letter as the hotel ‘‘has been getting a fire clearance for 30 years and the system cannot disappear in a day’’. Interestingly, the 4th, 5th, 7th and ground floors of the hotel are being renovated and overhauling of the fire equipment is within the scope of that work, confirmed officials in the public relations department of the hotel. The smoke detectors too have reportedly been disabled in many areas, said sources.

Sources in the fire department said the hotel has not yet submitted the ‘‘as-built’’ plan for the floors on which renovation is happening which is a mandatory requirement for the fire certificate.

While chief fire officer R C Sharma admitted that the fire safety mechanism on some floors of the hotel where renovation is on has been disabled, his deputy, A K Sharma, made it clear that fire clearance is issued for the entire building and, hence, if any part of the system is not up to the specifications, the entire building is refused a certificate.

The hotel’s general manager, P K Mathur said, ‘‘Our certificate expired in Mayend and the inspection happened around 10-15 days back. All the hydrants, sprinklers, everything is working.’’ Divisional fire officer Atul Garg confirmed receipt of the letter about the sprinklers but says there is no hurry to check its authenticity as ‘‘the hotel has written to us for renewal and the inspection is due for about a month now. We have been too busy. But the certificate is a mere technicality as it is not a new hotel and it has been getting fire clearances for three decades.’’ But he conceded that extensive renovation work or upgrading of equipment may require disconnecting the fire safety mechanism in parts. ‘‘But all systems in The Ashok are installed,’’ he stressed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

After Usain Bolt now Fraser not Interested in CW Games

After men’s Olympic Champion Usain Bolt, women’s Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser has also decided to give a miss to this year’s Commonwealth Games. In a big blow to the organizers, the Jamaican sprinter, who is the fourth fastest woman in the history, said she wants to concentrate on next year’s World Championship.

“It is a long season and trying to peak for the Commonwealths and then coming home in December to start training for a World Championships (next year) is too much to ask, especially for someone like me who is a also a student. I will be in school. I don’t think I am going,” Fraser was quoted as saying. However, the organizers here refused to confirm her pull out. “The last date to submit the names of the athletes is September 3. Only after the cut-off date we will able to tell something,” Lalit Bhanot said.

Wrestling venue re-christened KD Jadav stadium

In a bid to honor the achievement of India’s first individual Olympic medalist, sports minister MS Gill on Tuesday rechristened the newly-built wrestling venue in the Indira Gandhi sports complex here as KD Jadhav stadium. The newly-constructed wrestling stadium, one of the venues for this year’s Commonwealth Games, was inaugurated in April this year and has a capacity of 6,000. It has been built over an area of 22,350 square meter at a cost of Rs 120 crore.

Play in Nationals or risk axe from CWG: IBF

The Indian Boxing Federation on Tuesday threatened to throw those Commonwealth Games core group boxers out of the national camp who do not participate in the National Championships starting here on July 10. Top stars like World Championships bronze medalist Vijender Singh and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Akhil Kumar have skipped the Nationals for quite some time and even this year at least the formers participation is not certain. Vijender on Tuesday hurt his hand while sparring at the camp in Patiala and his participation seems doubtful.

Mir Iqbal trophy to feature 40,000 footballers

Over 40,000 U-16 footballers from 1500 schools would be vying for the top honors in the Mir Iqbal Hussain Trophy for the National sub-junior Championship to be organized across 75 cities. The grassroots level championship is being organized to unearth promising youngsters for the U-16 Indian football team for 2011.

LG Set Ultimatum for the Project Work

Barely three months to go and government officials still seem to be grappling with delivery schedules of the Commonwealth Games venues.

The latest is the Games Village near Akshardham temple. According to sources, a tug-of-war between Emaar MGF, the builders and Ahluwalia constructions, Emaar’s sub-contractor, on payment issues had escalated to such an extent last month that the LG’s office had to step in. Said a senior official, ‘‘There were complaints of delayed payment, which led to a slowdown in the work. The LG, Tejendra Khanna, had to step in and lay down an ultimatum for the project before work was resumed.’’ Sources say the workforce at the Village site had dropped drastically, as a result of which, only nine towers of the 34 constructed were handed over to Delhi Development Authority (DDA) by mid-June. ‘‘The contractor was told to expedite the matter or legal proceedings would be initiated. After all, it’s a project of national importance,’’ added the source.

The effect of the ultimatum was visible on Tuesday when Khanna went on a site visit. The spot where the laborers had been living in temporary shelters had been cleared even as the construction debris was no longer strewn across the site. Confirmed Ranjan Mukherjee, OSD to the LG, ‘‘The LG has already set another deadline for plantation work to be started in the Village, as the monsoon has arrived. DDA has been asked to start the work by July 20.’’ Interestingly, in the fortnight since the builder and contractor were hauled up, another eight towers have been handed over to DDA. Said Khanna, ‘‘I’m satisfied with the work. The Village will be handed over by August 1.’’ According to officials, as per the agreement with Emaar, the towers are to be completed with a second coat of paint before they can be handed over. At present, DDA is also simultaneously furnishing the flats.

It’s not the first time that payment issues have led to slowdown in work at the Commonwealth Games Village. Earlier in 2008, non-payment of dues by Emaar MGF to its sub-contractor, Ahluwalia constructions, had led to a complete stop in work as the labour force was withdrawn. DDA had to ultimately bail out Emaar with a substantial financial package before work could be resumed.

The LG also visited the Yamuna Sports Complex where the table tennis stadium is being built. The complex will be handed over later this month, officials informed. While construction is almost complete, it’s the lack of landscaping at the site that is responsible for the delay in handing over, added officials.

Are You Living Near Metro; Be Prepared to Burn Hole in your pocket

Very happy that Your House is near Metro: Consider Once Gain Because You Will Have to Pay More Tax

Living near the Metro line might cost some colonies dearly with the interim report of the third municipal valuation committee recommending re-categorizing colonies like Lajpat Nagar-I from category C to A along with many other colonies such as Chandni Chowk E to C , Saket from C to A etc. Other colonies which have been re-categorized based on other criteria such as civic amenities; road network includes Mayur Vihar which has been upgraded from D to C

Said an official: ‘‘Other colonies which have been upgraded due to proximity to the Metro include Model Town from C to B, Rajouri Garden and Sarvapriya Vihar from B to A, Janakpuri from D to B and Moti Nagar from D to C, Kamla Market and Kalkaji which are proposed to be upgraded from D to C.’’

Meanwhile, colonies being re categorized based on other criteria include Madhu Vihar from D to C, Preet Vihar from C to B and Rohini from D to C. As per the report, a total of 168 colonies will be re-categorized with maximum colonies being upgraded from E to D.

If MCD goes ahead with re-categorization of colonies, there will be a major change in the tax slab for upgraded colonies. Areas under the jurisdiction of MCD are at present, divided into categories A to H depending on the infrastructural facilities there. Any colony that has a grading of 89 or more in terms of facilities, comes under category A and category B has grading between 75 and 88. At present, there are 28 category A colonies in Delhi, where the tax rates are higher.

The reports also suggest increasing the property tax levied on commercial rented properties. Added the official: ‘‘The report says that by doing so, MCD will earn an additional revenue of Rs 180 crore.’’

Besides this, the report suggests levying taxes on 5-star hotels, multiplexes, petrol pumps, farmhouses (non-residential), malls based on the rates fixed for category ‘A’ while for three and four star hotels, the rates will be same as those charged for category ‘B’. Said an official: ‘‘If this happens, malls will land up paying Rs 8.90 crore more, guesthouses will have to shell out 10 crore more. Similarly, the amount of money paid by all the above categories will increase substantially.’’

The third municipal valuation committee’s interim report has also recommended MCD should try and increase its tax base.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Verification Drive Against Tour Operators

With the recent spate of incidents in the capital targeting foreigners, Union tourism minister Kumari Selja has written to Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna, emphasizing that a verification drive be conducted against tour operators, tourist guides and other service providers. The ministry would like the process to be completed before the Commonwealth Games in October.

The move comes close on the heels of reports that two Dutch nationals were allegedly raped by two persons masquerading as tourist guides.

Following an inquiry, the tourism ministry found that the accused were touts. They were registered neither with the ministry nor with the Delhi government.

‘‘We are looking at this case seriously. We have asked the Delhi government and the Delhi police to check the antecedents of all service providers. We will provide them with a list of the registered agents, tour operators and guides. They must
check that people are not using fraudulent identity cards or putting up registration boards at their offices,’’ Sujit Banerjee, Union tourism secretary, said.

The ministry will also publicize a list of do’s and don’ts that foreign tourists will be advised to adhere to, including behavioral pattern and dress code in public. In several incidents, officials have observed that foreign tourists are gullible and do not have a clear understanding of the local culture and social norms.

‘‘For instance, there have been cases when a foreign tourist has shared a drink with her tour guide. Consequently, this may send out a wrong signal to the guide and he could misbehave. Tourists must always seek information from more than one person,’’ a travel industry stakeholder said.

Selja had reacted strongly to the alleged rape of two Dutch nationals. ‘‘I feel that the strongest possible action should be taken in these cases to ensure that the right message is sent,’’ she had said.

After Loosing Contract PR Firm Created a Ruskus

The Commonwealth Games organizing committee (OC) has found itself grappling with a new problem. Its decision to oust the previously selected public relations firm, 20:20 Media, as the PR consultant for the Games has run into trouble with the PR agency threatening legal action.

Sources say the reason for the spat is the OC’s decision to terminate the contract, allegedly without settling the dues of over a crore, say officials. Also, the reasons given by the OC for termination were not found satisfactory by the PR agency, claim sources.

While OC spokesperson Lalit Bhanot refused to comment, claiming that the PR agency hadn’t been given the marching orders yet, highly placed sources in the OC confirmed that a decision had been taken to discontinue their services. ‘‘There have been differences on the level of service provided by 20:20 Media. The OC is not happy with the work they have done, and that’s why a decision was taken to appoint another PR consultant,’’ said the source. In fact, the OC has already taken out an RFP (request for proposal) in June.
20:20 Media was hired in October last year after going through the due process of a public tender. Sources say there was a problem with payments right from the beginning. However, it was the decision by the OC earlier last month to go in for a new agency that led to a row. ‘‘The agency had sent a letter asking for reasons for their ouster before the Queen’s Baton Relay took place in the last week of June. However, they served a legal notice once the OC team came back from Wagah,’’ said the source. The notice was subsequently ‘adjourned’ after hectic parleys with the OC.

‘‘The decision to bring in a new agency was taken as the scope of work has changed and we wanted a more experienced team to be in charge. This is what we explained to the agency,’’ said a top official of the OC.

The new RFP has already drawn interest from other agencies, said OC sources. One of the feelers reportedly is from a consortium that includes Dilip Cherian’s Perfect Relations.

Errant Auto Drivers Got Good Lessons

Delhi Traffic Police has claimed to have ‘‘punished’’ over 3,000 erring auto drivers who are still ‘‘taking passengers for a ride’’. Unable to check the ever-increasing complaints of misbehavior, refusal and overcharging against the auto drivers, the police have now deployed plainclothes cops across its 40 circles as decoy customers to challan all auto drivers who bend the rulebook.

‘‘Till Thursday, we challaned over 3,000 vehicles and impounded 126 others. We are yet to get the final figures for Thursday,’’ said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner (traffic).

Garg told Times City that they have got 80 teams to man the city. ‘‘One group of personnel, consisting of women officers are taking up strategic positions and asking auto drivers to go to destinations close by. If they refuse or overcharge, we will challan them. The other team is waiting at the ISBTs and railway stations. They are randomly asking passengers to tell them whether they have come by meter. If the answer is no, we are instantly challaning the drivers,’’ said Garg.

‘‘The misconduct by auto drivers cannot be tolerated now. Errant drivers need to be booked as they now have no excuse after the substantial hike in the auto rickshaw fares,’’ added Garg. The Joint CP said that all confiscated vehicles’ permits will be cancelled for a period that might extend up to 30 days.

In the past two days, 92 vehicles were issued challans for refusal, 60 for overcharging and 88 for driving without a license. As per data available with the traffic cops, over one lakh autos have been prosecuted for various offences till June 15 this year. Of these, 5,435 vehicles were challenged for permit violation and 5,138 drivers were prosecuted for driving without license. Nearly 11,000 drivers were found without proper uniform and badges. Only 1,404 challans were made for refusal.

Now Delhi Ministers to Supervise Common Wealth Games

Nine months after it was started and then hurriedly ended following severe opposition from some ministers, chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Wednesday revived the model of ministerial supervision of Games projects irrespective of the ministers’ departments.

In a meeting with her entire cabinet, Dikshit has asked ministers to go on rounds of venues near their places of residence to identify what more needs to be done. Ministers have been made in charge of various sectors like roads, streetscaping, heritage monuments etc. A formal notification may be issued in this regard but sources say a detailed list as had been issued in September last year in the wake of Michael Fennell’s scathing letter to the prime minister on his dissatisfaction with Games preparations may not be forthcoming.

Said a source: ‘‘I am not sure whether there will be a formal notification but it has been made clear to all ministers what their responsibilities are. Kiran Walia has been asked to inspect all projects being done by MCD and call them and inform them about any shortcomings. East Delhi projects will be handled by A K Walia and Arvinder Singh. NDMC areas will be supervised by the CM herself, while Haroon Yusuf has been asked to take care of the Walled City area and work being done on various historical monuments.’’
Yusuf has also been asked to look at streetscaping while roads are to be monitored by finance minister A K Walia.

Said a minister: ‘‘As far as stadia are concerned, the anxiety is now less about the work inside than the beautification and lighting outside. That is something that we have been asked to pay special attention to and also see that amenities like public toilets, drinking water etc are sufficient.’’

The monitoring model which is similar to the one adopted last time, sources say, may raise the same concerns and lead to allegations of interference as before but the fact that the Games are now less than 100 days away may wash away all protests. Bulks of the CWG projects are being implemented by PWD.

3 Months Remaining 3000 Volunteers to be Trained

The organizing committee’s (OC) delayed onward march continues. With three months to go before the Commonwealth Games, the OC is now getting its volunteers trained as D-Day approaches. While the time is short as usual for the Melbourne Games in 2006, training had taken place almost a year in advance the OC is hoping that three months will be enough to train 30,000 people on not only how to help in conducting an international event but also, how to react in emergency situations.

It’s a concern that OC’s training partners; a consortium headed by Amity University, including Event Knowledge Services (EKS) besides others, claims will be tackled by the day-long programmes that have been devised for training the volunteers.

Christian Napier of EKS said, ‘‘The timeline has been a challenge but there are advantages to conducting the training near the event date, since their (volunteers) motivation levels are kept high.’’ EKS, incidentally, was the training partner in the Melbourne Games as well as in the Asia Games in Doha and the recent PanAsia games in Rio.

Motivation levels were certainly high on Wednesday as a group of 250-odd volunteers underwent the first phase of training. The training which has been divided into general (one day), role-specific (half day) and venue-specific (half day) sessions will be imparted to 30,000 volunteers who have come from all walks of life.

For many, it’s a lifetime opportunity that has brought them from over 500km away like Rahul Goel from Bhatinda. Or simply a desire to showcase the city to a bunch of outsiders likes Razi Ahmad from Jamia Milia University. ‘‘I’m a student of history and I’d like to pass on my knowledge about the city’s past to the visitors,’’ added Ahmad.

What’s common amongst all is the high level of dedication and the willingness to spend time doing something for Delhi. Said Shantanu Basu, one of the trainers at the venue, ‘‘The sessions are not only geared to disseminate information but also turn this disparate group of people into a team.’’

The volunteers, who will be deployed across various functional areas, have been selected by not only OC officials, but also 40 Delhi government school teachers. Of the 30,000 shortlisted, around 4,000 are from the general public, comprising housewives, retired officials, and senior citizens.

The others are from Delhi University, ministry of tourism, NCC, NSS and the Delhi government. Added Ashok Chauhan of Amity, ‘‘The training methodology has been specially structured for the Games by us, EKS and other consortium members.’’

Interestingly, while Amity is training the volunteers without charging OC, its deal with the latter will enable it to be part of the branding exercise for the Games. Said Sudhir Mittal, a senior official from the OC, ‘‘The sponsorship is based on the amount of the VIK (value in kind), allowing Amity to advertise as part of the Games brand.’’ The sponsorship is worth Rs 15 crore.

Ready To Welcome

Deployed across all functional areas like security, accommodation, hospitality, press operations Training divided into general training (one day), role specific training (half day), venue specific training (half day) Besides lessons on body language, security, sports terminology, etiquette and others, volunteers will also learn how to help people with special needs

Training provided by a consortium of Amity, EKS and three other companies from Europe and the US 40 Delhi government school teachers helped the Organizing Committee to shortlist the volunteers