Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Basements of Games Village still in Deep Water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Street Vendors and Hawkers to go During Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NO BUSINESS ON ROAD

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

THE TARGETS

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

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

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

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

Homeless and Poor Lost their Livelihood Due to Games Cleanup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now Government to Pay for Meals for Doctors on Games Duty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awaiting Inspection Metro is Ready to Serve on Badarpur line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diversions and Curbs on roads around Nehru Stadium

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

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

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

A New Pain for Commuters as Games trial begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blue Lines: Away From Games Venues

From September 26, about 1,600 Blue line buses will go off the roads in central Delhi and around Commonwealth Games venues. The rickety fleet will be replaced with an equal number of low floor DTC buses which are being put on the affected routes. The move is aimed at improving the ‘‘image and look’’ of areas which will be frequented by athletes, delegates and tourists during the Games.

For this, some of the 132 affected routes will be curtailed and Bluelines plying on them will have to turn back from a designated point so that they ply only in areas which are unaffected by the Games. On some routes which operated only in the central parts of the city, however, the buses will be totally put off the roads. A majority of the Blue line buses which are being removed, will not be given alternative routes to ply. According to records of the transport department, the permits of the buses are close to expiring and therefore, giving them other routes is not viable. Some operators will be given alternative routes.

Blue line operators, however, feel the move is against the government’s mandate of promoting public transport. ‘‘We haven’t received any individual notices from the government yet. But the Games are a matter of national interest and we are going to cooperate with the government in whatever decision is taken. But the world over, public transport has been promoted during Games buses in Melbourne and Beijing ran extra trips. We only want our buses to be diverted to other vacant routes,’’ said Shyam Lal Gola of Delhi Bus Ekta Manch, a Bluelines bus operators’ collective.

The phasing out of Bluelines, however, doesn’t mean a shortage of buses in the city. ‘‘In the last four months alone, we have got 2,000 new DTC low floor buses. Part of this fleet will be used to augment services on the affected routes where Bluelines are being phased out. DTC has worked out a detailed plan for this which will be implemented when the phase-out starts from Saturday,’’ said transport commissioner R K Verma.

The original plan was to remove Bluelines from these areas from September 25 but this was postponed by a day as it was felt that commuter rush is lesser on Sunday and DTC is getting over 220 more buses from Ashok Leyland too which can be used to augment services. The transport department is planning to open the Burari Regional Transport Office (RTO) to facilitate registration of the new fleet.

The city has about 2,300 Bluelines of which over half will be affected by this move. A large chunk of the 6,000-strong DTC fleet being taken away for Games use too. The corporation will run special shuttle services from 52 focal points to facilitate movement to all the Commonwealth Games venues.

AEL CS Line to be Opened Next Week

Delhi Metro’s two remaining sections Airport Express Line and Central Secretariat to Badarpur will be opened for public use next week. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is in the process of getting the mandatory certification from Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS). The two lines will become operational soon, marking the completion of Phase II of Delhi Metro construction. Two stations on the Airport Express Line, however, will not open before the Commonwealth Games.

According to sources, the 25-km long fast link to IGI airport will be inspected by CMRS on September 27 and 28. The concessionaire of the line, Reliance Infra, has submitted the necessary documentation and pre-work for the inspection. After the safety certification comes through, the line will be opened. ‘‘It is expected that the line will be opened within a day or two of the inspection. Two stations, Dhaula Kuan and Delhi Aerocity, will only be opened after the Commonwealth Games as construction of these is not complete yet,’’ said sources. The CMRS will also inspect the extension of Line 3 from Dwarka Sector 9 to Sector 21 on September 29, which will link Line 3 to Airport Line.

The Airport Link, which has a designed speed of 135kmph, will connect New Delhi Railway station (NDRS) and Dwarka sector 22 and stop at IGI on the way. It has three more designated stops at Shivaji Terminus, Dhaula Kuan and Delhi Aerocity. The line has been modeled on the Heathrow Express in London and the Hong Kong Metro airport link. The airline and baggage check-in counters are being provided at the NDRS, Shivaji terminus and Dhaula Kuan metro stations, which will also start after the Games.

As for the Badarpur line, construction on which has been paced up by DMRC, the corporation is in the process of completing documentation to submit to CMRS by this week. The inspection is expected to take place next week, around September 20-30, soon after which this line will also open. ‘‘The Badarpur line had the shortest time for construction and last minute finishing work is still going on at the stations and on the last three kms of the line from Sarita Vihar to Badarpur. It will open by next week,’’ sources said.

The 20.16-km line, which connects Commonwealth Games venues including JN Stadium, is expected to open for public use by September end cutting down travel time from Central Secretariat to Badarpur to just 40 minutes. It has stations at Central Secretariat, Khan Market, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Jangpura, Lajpat Nagar, Moolchand, Kailash Colony, Nehru Place, Kalkaji Mandir, Govindpuri, Okhla, Jasola, Sarita Vihar, Mohan Estate, Tughlaqabad and Badarpur.


FLY TO AIRPORT

Length | 22.7km (7km elevated, 15.7km underground) Stations | 6 (New Delhi Railway Station, Shivaji Terminus, Dhaula Kuan, Delhi Aerocity, IGI Airport and Dwarka Sector 21

Stations where baggage can be checked in | NDLS, Shivaji Terminus and Dhaula Kuan Journey time | 18 mins (from NDLS to IGI) Train speed | 135kmph Frequency | 10 mins in 2010, 6 mins by 2021

Maximum fare | 150 (Max up to IGI), 30 (IGI to Dwarka)
Monthly frequent flier pass | 2,000 up to IGI; 600 from IGI to Dwarka
Completion deadline | September 2010

Expected ridership | 42,500 by 2010; 86,000 by 2021
Construction cost | 3,800 crore (approx) Business model | Public-private partnership (PPP) with DMRC eveloping the civil structures

Medical Staff at Games Venues Dissatisfied with Treatment

Doctors and paramedics are upset with the facilities provided to them at Games venues. With medical staff posted full time at various venues, doctors say they are neither allowed to carry food inside nor are they provided meals. The state health department says they have taken up the matter with OC.

‘‘For security reasons, we have to deposit even our umbrellas at the main entry. For food we have to come outside the venue. We were told that once we are posted full time at the venue, we will be give meals twice a day,’’ said a doctor posted with IG Stadium. The OC has not even made arrangements for tea or coffee. ‘‘There is just one coffee dispenser machine at the stadium, which is only for OC people. Our staff is not allowed to take tea or coffee from the machine. With no arrangements at the venue, we are forced to go to Delhi Secretariat for food. Even for a cup of coffee we have to walk nearly 2km as several entries have been closed due to security reasons,’’ said a senior doctor.

The condition is the same at several competition venues. Doctors at Yamuna Sports Complex are also facing a similar problem. ‘‘Initially, we were not allowed to take food inside. As the OC people are not giving us meals, we requested the security agency at the venue to allow us to bring food. Now after thorough checking we can take food inside,’’ said a doctor posted with Yamuna Sports Complex.

Admitting there was a problem, Dr A K Aggarwal, in charge of the medical workforce for the Games, said, ‘‘The issue was brought to my notice during the test events. Our doctors and paramedical staff were not given food. We have informed the director health services about it.’’ Doctors posted at various venues say they have been told that food will be available from September 26.

Doctors are unhappy with the treatment given to them at the venues. ‘‘First, we were ordered to report for Commonwealth Games duty but were made to sign volunteer form. The government is not giving us TA/DA for this duty. Now, to top it all we are not even given food. We spend eight to nine hours at the venues. We should at least have facility for tea or coffee. How can you make a person work in these conditions?’’ said a doctor posted at one of the Games venues.

According to a senior health official, ‘‘We were told that OC would be providing two meals to the entire medical workforce. Had they told us we would have made arrangements for food for our staff. We have taken up the matter with OC.’’

At Last Games Song Video Brings Some Happiness to Public

Amid all the gloom and doom, here’s a piece of good news the OC has finally got the video of Delhi Games 2010 theme song by A R Rahman out. The video, which didn’t get an official launch in the midst of the controversies surrounding the Commonwealth Games Village, showcases a much peppier version of the theme song, Swagatham.

Conceptualized and produced by Bharat Bala productions, the video is atwo-minute long virtual treat with Rahman belting out the retuned version of the song even as India’s sport icons like Saina Nehwal and Milkha Singh do what they do best: play a great game. Besides the two, Commonwealth Games ambassador Sushil Kumar is also shown besides several other international sport stars.

The video features a much shorter version of the song, with the refrain of ‘‘Letz go’’ coming out on tops. ‘‘It’s also much peppier and should go down far better than the original Swagatham did,’’ said a senior OC official. While OC hasn’t revealed if any formal launch of the video is planned, sources said the new version will be released on television ‘‘soon’’. ‘‘As part of the awareness campaign, the video will be played on television within a day or two as well as released on radio. The idea is to reach as many people as possible before the Games start off from October 3,’’ added the official.

The production of the video, said sources, cost approximately Rs 60 lakh, with Rahman not being paid a separate fee for his appearance, as he would be featured in the song. Bala, incidentally, is also the creative head of the ceremonies committee for the Delhi Games 2010.

Athletes and Games Official to Have Smooth Sail on Road

Amid instances of how preparations for the Commonwealth Games have not been up to the mark, the successful first full trial run on the elevated road connecting Ring Road near Sarai Kale Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday came as a big relief for the Delhi government. Public Works Department (PWD) minister Raj Kumar Chauhan announced that the elevated road would be opened for general commuters from October 15, immediately after the Games.

‘Government has spent a huge amount in building the project. We don’t want public to be deprived of using this stretch once the Games is over. It will reduce the travel time between these two points to only 5-6 minutes,’’ the minister said. The road has been built entirely on the Barapullah Nullah bed. ‘‘Construction of the road was necessary for taking Games sportspersons and officials directly to the main venue. How could we have taken the huge fleet of buses through crowded roads?’’ Chauhan said.

On Friday, about 240 low floor air-conditioned DTC buses meant for the athletes and officials covered this distance. The buses started from Games Village and took the elevated road from Ring Road just opposite Bala Sahib Gurudwara.

Security Alert: 40% Police Staff on Games Duty

As the capital makes its last-ditch attempt to host the Commonwealth Games successfully, the Delhi Police too is leaving no stone unturned to secure the venues and delegates coming for the sporting event. But the heavy deployment of cops on Games duty will come at a price. With over 40% of the force from each police station to be diverted for CWG security, local policing is bound to take a hit.

According to sources, a majority of the police stations — especially those located near the venues in east, central and north Delhi — will be working with only one inspector instead of the usual three from October 3 to October 14. The Station House Officer, an inspector-rank official, has been spared of Games related duty while the other two inspectors handling investigations and anti-terrorism squad have been assigned security duty during the sporting event.

SHO and the ACP level officers have been also asked to arrange their own private vehicles for their regular movement during the Games. ‘‘We could not have trusted private drivers for Games duty. Hence, we have roped in our own drivers,’’ said a senior police officer. The officer added that even middle level officers with the Police Control Room have been asked to surrender their vehicles during this period.

From securing venues to verifying over a lakh workers to carrying out regular mock drills, cops have their task cut out and accordingly they have been asked to cancel their leave applications till the end of the Games. ‘‘Moreover, the Jama Masjid attack came as a rude shock. We have to be sure that the 470 points identified earlier as sensitive are fully secured,’’ said an officer from south district.

Senior officials at the police headquarters played down the fears. ‘‘We have 175 companies of paramilitary forces. The total number of security men is expected to be around 1.75 lakh. We are aware of securing such sensitive areas like markets and festive areas where Ramlila and Durga Puja will be celebrated. Hence, we have made adequate arrangements,’’ said an officer overseeing security at the IGI stadium.

Delhi Police Leaving Nothing: Carrying Out Double Check

Under pressure to ensure a safe Games, Delhi Police is leaving nothing to chance. Claiming that they were ‘‘not provided with complete details’’ of people who have to be issued accreditation cards for smooth entry to Games venues, the cops have been forced to do a double check.

A secondary verification is being carried out in 46,000 out of the one lakh cases to prepare a database and iron out the errors in the accreditation list.

Accreditation cards are being distributed by the organizing committee (OC) after the special branch of Delhi Police carried out the primary verification of over 1 lakh people, including volunteers, medical officers, workers, vendors, Delhi Police personnel and others. However, details of around 46,000 people were found to be incomplete because of which a secondary verification is being carried out.

According to Delhi Police, the OC has given out names and other details of individuals but when the names of two persons are similar, there is no way to establish their identities. ‘‘We are preparing a list of all individuals with common name. In some lists, there are five Rajesh Kumars but their parentage and other details have not been provided by the OC,’’ said a senior police officer.

Their references and complete details are being obtained from OC and special branch for a second verification. ‘‘We also want to run a second check on the accreditation of all government officials, including medical officers who have been called from outside Delhi. Many in the list given by the OC have been exempted from any verification. This includes government officials,’’ the officer added.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police had said that once the lockdown is initiated, persons without proper accreditation will not be allowed inside.

‘There is no entry for vehicles and only those with proper pass issued from the OC are being allowed inside. Contractors and vendors who have unfinished work at the venues will be allowed only after they are issued a bumping pass. These passes are being issued by the OC in consultation with the venue commander,’’ said an officer.

Games Village Developer Distances Themselves From Controversy

Emaar-MGF, developer of the Commonwealth Games Village, has distanced itself from the controversy surrounding the sporting extravaganza, according to a report.

“The project was completed and handed over to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Organizing Committee (OC) in June,” a spokesperson for Emaar-MGF, which is a joint venture owned by Indian lender MGF and Dubai-based Emaar Properties, told Dubai’s 7DAYS newspaper. “The OC is responsible for the furniture and fixtures in the apartments and the temporary overlays in the Village. The current controversy is due to housekeeping issues arising out of work being carried out by the OC,” the spokesperson added.

After Many Months Sheila Awakes Now Asking Report from Ministers

After a rap from the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, at Thursday’s emergency meeting, chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday put all her six cabinet ministers on alert, asking them to go for field inspections and fix drawbacks. In a belated attempt to salvage the show, the chief minister along with senior officials of her government camped for most part of the day at the Games Village to get things done.

The message to her ministers came at a cabinet meeting. The entire state government machinery will now focus only on Games-related preparations though the sense of urgency seems to be coming too late in the day. She has often blamed the media, besides the rain, for playing the spoiler and repeatedly promised that everything would turn out to be okay in the end.

Soon after the cabinet meeting, the CM rushed to the Village. The principal secretary to the chief minister, PK Tripathi, was at the Village through the day, monitoring housekeeping. Chief secretary Rakesh Mehta divided his time between official meetings, Village and secretariat. From dog catching, sanitation arrangements, fire hydrants to housekeeping arrangements now being executed with the help of professionals from five-star hotels, officials claimed to be monitoring everything small and big.

The lights were out in the offices of nearly all cabinet ministers. While transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely was first seen at the Barapullah elevated corridor, he was later busy inspecting the bus depot at Sarai Kale Khan which houses the buses for athletes and delegates.

After flagging off the trial run at Barapullah elevated road, the minister in-charge of PWD, Raj Kumar Chauhan, went for an inspection of the Ring Road bypass and later reviewed work on roads at Maharani Bagh and Bhikaji Cama Place. Health minister Kiran Walia, urban development minister AK Walia and food & civil supplies minister Haroon Yusuf too were out on inspections.

Labour minister Mangat Ram Singhal was the only one available in the Delhi secretariat in the later half of the day. He, however, said that he had been assigned north and northwest Delhi. At the end of the day, the CM office released the schedule of inaugurations lined up for Saturday.

For the record, in July the chief secretary’s office had issued an official memorandum on the directions of the chief minister drawing up an inspection schedule for ministers and officials.

Athletes Arriving Today Brace for Traffic Jams

The movement of athletes from IGI Airport to Commonwealth Games Village on Saturday is expected to cause minor disruption of traffic between 9.30am and 10.30am. The traffic police do not plan to close the lanes for the entire time. But Delhiites can expect trouble from September 27 when the Games lanes will be fully functional.

”As per schedule received from the Organizing Committee, athletes will arrive at the international airport and move to the Games Village in the morning. There will be partial restriction on Games lanes between the airport and Games Village between 9.30am and 10.30am. Other than these, there will not be exclusive restrictions on other stretches earmarked as Games Lanes,’’ said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

The contingents will move to the Village via National Highway-8, Sardar Patel Marg, Panchsheel Marg, Kamal Attaturk Marg, Safdarjung Road, Aurobindo Marg, Lodhi Road, Mathura Road, Bhairon Road, Ring Road and National Highway-24.

The movement of athletes to training venues will also be facilitated for which the vehicles carrying the athletes will follow a police pilot car or bike. People have been advised to give way to the contingents. The real trouble is expected to start from September 27. ‘‘As most of the athletes and officials are expected to check in by September 26, the Games Lane will be fully operational from September 27. People are advised to take alternative routes,’’ Garg said.

Motorists are advised to avoid the spinal route for Commonwealth Games lanes which link the Village, Hotel Ashoka and Hotel Samrat and six venues including JLN stadium, Thyagraj Stadium, Siri Fort, RK Khanna Tennis complex, SPM complex and Talkatora Stadium.

The traffic police have urged Delhiites to switch to public transport and use alternative routes.

New Guests Busy in Exploring Games Village

Even as the political and bureaucratic brass of the country scrambled to get the Delhi Games back on track on Friday, athletes living in the Commonwealth Games Village were busy discovering the Village. Sources said the day was spent by the 300-odd athletes and delegates living there many of whom had arrived only on Thursday mostly exploring the international zone in the Village as well as the training facility.

Said an official, ‘‘While most of the athletes who had come from abroad were familiarizing themselves with the rooms and getting over jetlag, the Indian contingent settled in and explored the Village area.’’ With the athletes expected to finish the DRM (delegation registration meeting) as they arrive, there was a lot of movement within the residential zone as well. Added the official, ‘‘The massive housekeeping and cleaning exercise that is going on is confined to some of the towers. The athletes who are living in the Village kept away and preferred to explore the training facility and the nearby pool instead.’’ No one, however, used the pool, though some tried out the gymnasium equipment, added officials.

Predictably, the maximum movement was in the international zone, which also has the kitchen. Ajay Grover, consultant (catering) of the OC, said the kitchen, which has been operational for some days now, cooked over 5,000 meals on Friday. These included 4,200 meals for the workforce. Added Grover, ‘‘While breakfast didn’t see a lot of athletes venture out, the lunch was served to around 300 athletes and delegates.’’

Added Jimmy Shue, one of the specialty chefs brought to Delhi specially for the Games by Delaware North, the caterers, ‘‘The kitchen has now become operational 24 hours. Athletes can walk in any time for food.’’ Shue, who said the work in the international zone had been on schedule for some days now, is a Commonwealth Games veteran and was a part of the Melbourne Games as well.

Friday’s lunch menu included not only the Indian spread but also a range of dishes from other Asian countries as well as Continental and African food. Since a majority of the athletes in the Village are from the Indian team, the local food was a hit, added Grover. Dishes like paneer makhana masala, aloo palak, pindi chhole, meen moily and Goa fish curry were in great demand even as the athletes from other countries like Australia, Malaysia, Kenya, Nigeria and elsewhere enjoyed dishes like Hungarian-styled stew, slow cooked goat, grilled sole steak, Jolliff rice (an African specialty) and prawn cutlets.

Athletes Angry with Tight Security

As the Games Village gets its new occupants, some teething troubles are cropping up with athletes complaining of “strict” security drills with some of them not being able to take even items of personal use like mouthwash into the residential towers.

Security personnel are under instructions to keep liquids out in the manner in which fluids are banned by most airlines in passenger hand luggage. This led to some arguments with delegates complaining that they were being put through checks that were excessive.

The point was amplified by CGF chief Michael Fennel during his visit to the Village on Friday when he suggested that security adopt some flexibility in dealing with such issues. With 96 residents in the complex and 160 expected on Saturday, there will soon be more to do for security personnel.

Some of the visitors were unhappy that the cars they were provided with did not have drivers who spoke English. There was not much the organizers could do about this even as some of them said there were similar situations at Athens and Beijing Olympics. Yet, it was felt that more translators could have been arranged. The buses would be less of a problem as there would be an official in every vehicle used to transport athletes.

With cleaning of the towers being undertaken at a frantic pace, there was a noticeable improvement and Australian and English delegations looked ready to move in. There were others, though, like Scots and Kiwis who were demanding they be shown design safety and fire certificates, which the organizers felt was a little excessive.

Public Showed No Interest for CWG Games Tickets

The stink of the Commonwealth Games Village seems to have spread to the ticket sales as well.

Figures of ticket sale over the past week clearly shows the disenchantment of the general public with the Delhi Games 2010, described by organizers as the biggest sporting spectacle in the country in over 20 years. Here’s a sample: on September 18, the total number of sales for the Games was 14,800 for the day. A day before, it had been 10,500 while it had crossed the 12,000 mark on September 16. On September 21, the day when the Village controversy erupted, the sales came down to somewhat around 8,000 tickets. It plummeted to 3,000-odd tickets the next day even as more skeletons kept tumbling out of the organizing committee’s (OC) closet.

Said a senior OC official, ‘‘The impact has been immediate. Before that, we had been congratulating ourselves that ticket sales were picking up, especially after the good publicity that the Games received from various quarters including the soft launch of the Village.’’ Sources said the ticket sales had crossed the 2.5 lakh figure last week, with many buying not only the tickets worth Rs 1,000 the lowest range for the opening ceremony but also the expensive ones, worth Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000. Said the source, ‘‘Around 1,000 tickets each of Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000 tickets were sold till the beginning of the week.’’

Sources said ticket sales had not improved much on Thursday, hovering in the 3,000-4,000 figures. Said a senior OC official, ‘‘A damage control exercise needs to be launched to generate more enthusiasm for the Games, otherwise ticket sales will fall far short of the numbers we are offering to sell.’’ The OC hopes to sell 17 lakh tickets for the fortnight-long mega event, with the opening and closing ceremonies expected to generate the most interest. Till date, most ticket sales have been for these two events, with the sporting events not really garnering much sale.

Officials said the OC is hoping that ticket sales will go up now, with the Village controversy being resolved.

Fennell Says Considerable Improvement

There’s finally some good news coming from the Commonwealth Games Village. Days after the advance teams from New Zealand and Canada besides other countries complained about the condition of the Village, both delegates and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief, Michael Fennell, admitted that ‘‘considerable’’ improvements have been made. And while Fennell made it clear that the organising committee (OC) of the Delhi Games 2010 had to keep on its toes to ensure that the momentum of work continues, things looks good for the Games, with the first batch of 47 athletes, including 17 from England, landing in Delhi on Friday.

Said a senior OC official, ‘‘With a large work force being deployed in the Village, a large part of the cleaning operation has been accomplished. Now, the debris lying around in the open, especially the pools of stagnant water, is the main cause of work left to be done.’’ In fact, the stagnant water — both in the external areas as well as in the basement of the towers, is some areas that Fennell has told the OC to be on top priority, said sources.

Visiting the Village early morning, Fennell met the chefs de mission of the countries that have already their advance teams, along with CGF CEO, Mike Hooper. ‘‘The briefing I received from my CEO, Mike Hooper, last night, was that considerable improvements have been made within the Village, with further significant resources deployed by Delhi chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, to make good what was a concerning situation,’’ Fennell said in a statement.

It wasn’t just Fennell who made the rounds of the Village though. Dikshit also rushed to the Village while OC’s brass, including OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi and Vice-chairman Randhir Singh, also went there. Also present was OC spokesperson Lalit Bhanot, who was overseeing the clean-up operation in the Village, added sources. Added Fennell, ‘‘We must ensure that a suitable environment is provided to ensure the welfare of the athletes and their support staff... It is vital that all remedial work that has already started continues with the greatest urgency.’’

The 17-member team from England, meanwhile, which landed in Delhi, will be staying in a hotel. Admitted Bhanot, ‘‘They have made their own (living) arrangements and will move into the Village in a few days.’’ Asked if the team hadn’t moved in as the Village wasn’t ready, Bhanot claimed it was a ‘‘normal’’ feature. ‘‘The team informed us that they wanted to meet outsiders which would have been difficult in the Village, so preferred to stay in a hotel,’’ added Bhanot.

Meanwhile, around 1,000 sanitation workers from MCD and NDMC have been working to clean-up the Games Village. Said an official: ‘‘Due to water filling up the basement areas, around 15 lifts were not working.’’ MCD is pumping out water from the basement area and claims that the water entered the basement due to Yamuna level rising. Meanwhile, DDA which is responsible for the maintenance of the basement claimed that no water had entered the basement.

Said an NDMC official, ‘‘We are scraping off the muck and grime from within the Games Village. Most of the cleaning work is over. Around 500 sanitation workers from NDMC are carrying out work in the Village while the MCD staff is responsible for removing garbage from the complex.’’

MCD said there was still a lot of malba which needed to be removed. Said an MCD official, ‘‘We have allocated 500 workers for cleaning the exterior of the Village. We have also been given the duty to carry out fogging in the area and ensuring that there are no dogs in the vicinity.”

Now Indian Army to Save Games

When all systems fail, call in the Army. With time running out, a desperate Delhi government has now asked the Army to build a foot over bridge outside the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in place of the one that collapsed on Tuesday. The bridge will facilitate movement of spectators.

The move came after officials responsible for securing the stadium found that an alternative movement plan for spectators would pose a security risk.

Top Delhi government officials said the Army plans to begin work immediately and is expected to deliver the bridge within five days. ‘‘This will be a Bailey bridge,’’ chief secretary Rakesh Mehta told an English News Daily. A bailey bridge is a prefabricated truss structure used by the military to bridge gaps. The new bridge will not be as fancy as the one that fell, but will be built at a fraction of the original cost. Rs 5 crore was being spent on the suspension bridge that collapsed.

The PWD has been asked to complete the second foot over bridge that will also take spectators into the stadium. This structure will be completed before the Games by PWD, which claims material is ready and it will be possible to finish work in time.

Army sources confirmed military engineers had been asked to build the bridge following a request from the Delhi chief secretary. Some of the equipment had already been moved to the site, they added.

As the entire Delhi Government machinery swung into action to execute a belated salvage operation at the Games Village, by afternoon it was evident that a replacement for the collapsed foot over bridge at JLN stadium would be necessary. Earlier, the government and the traffic police had proposed an alternative plan for movement of spectators who were supposed to use the FOB.

According to top sources, under the alternative plan, spectators would have had to walk an extra kilometer to enter the stadium. Thus a meeting was held with the Army representatives on Friday where the modalities of building a bridge were discussed. Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta said, ‘‘For now, they have agreed to make one bridge.’’

The Army had earlier been requested to construct a temporary iron bridge to link another Games venue, the Siri Fort complex. This bridge was built at a cost of Rs 80 lakh.

SIGNS OF HOPE AMID FIREFIGHTING

England’s first batch of 22 athletes arrives, will stay in hotels till Village blocks ready
Kiwi cyclist Greg Henderson pulls out. But NZ to come following green signal by Olympic Committee. PM John Key says it would be heart-breaking for athletes if they couldn’t go CGF chief Mike Fennell says “considerable improvements” at Village. Delhi Govt. says clean-up will be completed by Saturday morning Australia’s Olympic Committee chief John Coates says Games should never have come to India. But CWG chief Perry Crosswhite gives Village a “thumbs up” Cong spokesman Manish Tewari says no one should have been given opportunity to point fingers, but also blames “foreign stereotype” of India

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Metro Line Glitch on Gurgaon line hits service

Commuters using the Gurgaon Metro line faced delays on Monday morning after train operations on a portion of the line were suspended for 45 minutes to repair a technical snag on the overhead electrification (OHE) line. Even though the shut-off was scheduled and commuters were told about it at stations, commuters were inconvenienced as they had to opt for other modes of transport.

The technical snag affected the section between Sultanpur and Guru Dronacharya Metro stations and there were virtually no trains between the two locations during the affected time. Commuters complained even in the morning, the trains were running slowly and halting at every station for five minutes. At the receiving end were scores of office-goers who have not started depending on the Metro for their daily commute out of Gurgaon.

‘‘I boarded the train around 10am from Sikanderpur station to go to Delhi and as usual it was running slow and halting every now and then. However, I realized something was wrong when our train reached Sultanpur station. Instead of going to Platform 1, the train changed track and got on Platform 2 on which passengers heading towards Gurgaon were waiting. There were no announcements made and everybody in the train was left wondering what had happened,’’ said Arun Kumar, a DLF-3 resident.

According to commuters, the trouble started as early as 8am. ‘‘On Monday morning, the journey which usually takes 40 minutes took more than an hour. I boarded the train around 8am and it kept halting at every station. There were no announcements what the delay was about and when we reached Sultanpur station there was some confusion and the train stopped at platform 3, it usually stops at platform 2,’’ said Sunder Singh, a Karol Bagh resident. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) officials, meanwhile, said they had taken a block in services from 11.20am to 11.50am to repair the snag in the overhead electrification line.

LGs parking and pillion rider ban breached on Day One

A day after a meeting chaired by the lieutenant-governor, Tejendra Khanna, asked Delhi Police to ban parking within 100 meters of 470 sites identified as sensitive and not allow bikers with pillion riders in these areas, there was neither any notification, nor any action on the ground. Delhi Police said a notification was underway.

‘‘The notification is ready and will be sent to all authorities concerned early on Tuesday. We respect the decisions taken at the meeting and we will do everything to implement them,’’ said Bhagat. Delhi Police said they have also asked the management at these places to install CCTVs since they are high on the list of terror targets.

However, when Times City visited 10 spots mentioned in the list, the enormity of the task at hand became evident. At Turkman Gate, a PCR had asked drivers to move away their vehicles but they only managed to clear the front portion. Cars and three wheelers remained parked on the adjacent roads, barely 20 meters from the spot.

At India Gate, policemen feigned ignorance. ‘‘We have not received any intimation about parking so far. We are on alert but would have preferred to have a metal detector,’’ said a cop standing among parked cars, barely 80 meters from the monument.

At Safdargunj Tomb, no cops were present at the entrance. A lone traffic constable had no idea about the curbs imposed even as a staffer explained that parking was ‘‘official’’ and that the police action of stopping parking within 100 meters of the monument was only for ‘‘illegal parking.’’ The police said no such ‘‘distinctions’’ will be made because this was a security issue.

Though bikers with pillion riders kept zipping past, the cops hardly reacted. Said a cop near Jantar Mantar (where parking was as rampant as at any place else): ‘‘It is impossible to stop someone who is moving in these places on a genuine purpose. We are however keeping a eye for suspicious characters on two-wheelers.’’ The worst-affected area, perhaps, was Connaught Place where cars were parked at almost every available spot. ‘‘We are shocked that there are PCRs only for the inner circle. We read in the papers that parking will not be allowed in the vicinity and hence opted for the Metro. Yet here, we find unrestricted parking,’’ said Snigdha Gulati from the Punjabi Bagh area. The police said all necessary action to restrict parking will be taken from Tuesday when the notification is issued.

CM Believes Delhi is absolutely ready: Really?

With barely two weeks to go for the Commonwealth Games, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday reviewed the preparations and said the city was ‘‘now absolutely ready’’ and was aiming for ‘‘perfection’’ in various infrastructure and services.

Dikshit asked all the agencies involved in the Games-related project to constitute special teams to monitor the situation.

‘‘As the city is now absolutely ready to host an international sports event, it is the need of the hour to keep a close eye on newly-developed infrastructure, greenery, street lights, street-scaping, high mast lights and other vital civic services to ensure constant perfection,,’’ said the CM. Some 7,000 participants and officials from 71 countries and territories are expected to attend the Commonwealth Games.

Different Government Agencies to supply ambulances for Games

Ambulances for Commonwealth Games will now be brought from different government agencies, including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central government hospitals and Centralized Accident and Trauma Services (CATS).

With 12 days to go for the event, the state government has scrapped the names of private hospitals from the list of sources that were supposed to provide ambulances. Health minister Kiran Walia said there was no shortage of ambulances.

According to the latest report on medical arrangements by the health department, 64 ambulances will cater to the Games. The department has procured 31 new ambulances from a private company called MGM, seven Advanced Life Support ambulances have been sourced through the state government, 12 have been brought from Central government hospitals and the rest have been provided by CATS. The CRPF has donated two ambulances to the organizing committee (OC).

Private hospitals and agencies, including the I-Care group, Max Hospital and another Noida-based hospital, which were in talks with the government for providing ambulances and drivers if required, have not been involved by the state yet. ‘‘We along with other service providing agencies and the Delhi Medical Association have been in dialogue with the government on providing some ambulances. We are still waiting confirmation on the exact requirement, if any,” said an official at Max Hospital, Saket.

Walia said the government had arranged the required number of ambulances on its own. “We have sufficient ambulances, which will be available round-the-clock near polyclinics, hotels and the airport. The accreditation process for 167 crew members, who will man these vehicles, is 75% complete,” said Walia. She said 35 venue medical centers and 38 first-aid posts have been made operational. On an average, one ambulance will be stationed outside the 35 medical centers and the rest will be placed across important points near the training venues and Games village. The ambulance command and control will be done through CATS control room in West Delhi.

For transportation to different locations of medical inside the Games village, the government has arranged eight-seater golf carts. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, and G B Pant Hospital will have provisions for definitive treatment of accredited personnel.

Special Games Kiosks for Information cum Food

You can savor the different delicacies of Delhi at a kiosk close to your house now. For the Games, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) will install 40 information-cum-food kiosks across the city which will focus on hard selling ‘Brand Delhi’. Two such installations were opened on Monday. Chief minister Sheila Dikshit inaugurated a cafe near Birla Mandir while mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney unveiled a similar
kiosk near Red Fort.

The mayor said kiosks will be put up at various heritage sites and major markets. T-shirts, bags, caps and mugs with themes like ‘‘I Love Delhi’’ and ‘‘Delhi Dilwalaon Ka’’ under the brand tag of ‘‘Delhi memories’’ will be sold at these cafes. Each cafe will have a 30x20 inch touchscreen to provide information to visitors in eight foreign and Indian languages about tourist attractions in the city, its culture and heritage, shopping areas, food, accommodation and nightlife.

‘The kiosks will also sell street food and beverages in a safe and hygienic environment. For example in the stall near Chandni Chowk, the famous paranthas, chaat, jalebi and lassi of Walled City will be available,’’ said Amiya Chandra, chief of MCD’s remunerative project cell.

Added another official, ‘‘We will have chocolates in the shape of Qutub Minar and earrings will be shaped like jalebi.’’ The official added the items that are being sold are all eco-friendly. The MCD said it has not incurred any expenditure in the project which has been undertaken in a public-private partnership mode. The stalls will be operational for 100 days and the private agency will get profit from the sale of items. After that, the units will be transferred to MCD which will use them as government-to-citizen kiosks.

‘‘We will transform the stalls to G2C kiosks. Touch screens will be there, but no items will be sold,’’ said Chandra. The touch screens will provide information on ATMs, police stations and hospitals along with important contact numbers other than travel related information about Jaipur and Agra. It will have bluetooth to facilitate data transfer.

Blockages Leading to Water Accumulating at IG velodrome: Drainage a Big Problem

A couple of days left to athletes arriving in India for the Commonwealth Games 2010 and venues in the city continue to face problems. Sources working at the Indira Gandhi Velodrome say the drainage system at the venue has sprung blockages, leading to water accumulating within the premises.

Said a senior official, ‘‘The drainage system, which is supposedly state-of-the-art, however hasn’t managed to tackle the rainwater. The rain over the past few days has been very strong, which has led to the blocks in the drainage system.’’ The situation is so bad that water can be found to be lying in large quantities around the premises, as well as leading to seepage, add officials working in the site. The situation is especially precarious in the roof, where the accumulating water could well lead to leaks, added the officials. ‘‘Since its a closed stadium, the rainwater needs to be taken out through the pipes along the roof. However, since the drainage system is not working at optimum, the water flows out of the pipes and leads to leaks. A physical outlet had to be made to take out the excess water,’’ said the official.

Officials in the CPWD deny the allegations. Said BK Chugh, director general (works) of the CPWD, ‘‘There are no problems with the drainage in the Indira Gandhi velodrome. Its one of the most sophisticated venues we have constructed, with the latest technology.’’ Chugh claimed that the water accumulation was a temporary feature because of the rains and not because of a faulty drainage system. ‘‘The last time there was a problem was a fortnight ago, which was resolved. We have received no complaint from the Velodrome thereafter, and have been conducting daily checks,’’ added Chugh.

Media & Broadcast Centre with the Capacity of 2000 Journalists open

Dismissing travel advisories issued by Commonwealth countries, Organizing Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Monday said no country had expressed concern or threatened to pull out of the Commonwealth Games after the Jama Masjid shooting incident.

He said all steps had been taken to ensure safety of athletes and delegates were satisfied with the arrangements made by India. ‘‘We are monitoring the situation on a day to day basis,’’ said Kalmadi while inaugurating the main press centre of the Games at Pragati Maidan. He was accompanied by I&B minister Ambika Soni.

Spread over 6,700sqm, the media centre will cater to about 2,000 journalists including 800 from overseas. It is expected to function 24 hours from October 1-15. There will be free internet access and wi-fi.

The International Broadcast Centre also situated at Pragati Maidan has begun operations with broadcasters setting up operations there. IBC is equipped with technical resources, including broadcast information offices, satellite dish farm and telecommunication operations.

Uncompressed audio and video feed from 38 cameras produced by the host broadcaster from all venues through optical fibre connection will be customised by rights holding broadcasters and transmitted through satellite uplinking service and international fiber service.

‘‘I have not got a single call from any Commonwealth country expressing apprehensions about security (of the athletes after Sunday’s firing). This (firing) was not a Games-related incident. It happened in Jama Masjid and the police are looking into it. It’s not a major incident. As of today, all 71 Commonwealth countries are coming for the Games,’’ he added.

Asked about terror advisories issued by various countries, Kalmadi said their respective Commonwealth Games associations have committed to participating in the multi-sport event. ‘‘Many countries have issued travel advisories earlier also. Australia had earlier issued an advisory but its Commonwealth Games chief Perry Crosswhite said its athletes are coming. So what is important is that the Commonwealth Games bodies of the respective countries have committed to participation in the Games,’’ the OC chief added.

Come September 23, Brace for Jams as Athletes start to Arrive


As athletes start pouring in for the Commonwealth Games from September 23, the traffic police plan to start blocking off Games lanes to provide them a free passage from the airport to the Commonwealth Games village. The road blocks, however, will not last for the entire day or night. The plan is to cordon off one lane of the main road in a need-based manner, depending on timings of arrival of the athletes.

The main route to be affected on September 23 and 24 will be from the airport to Commonwealth Games village via Sardar Patel Marg, Chanakyapuri, Lodhi Road, portion of Ring Road near Sarai Kale Khan, Nizamuddin Bridge and National Highway-24. ‘‘The roads will only be blocked when there is movement of athletes. At all other times, they will be available for traffic. We will be giving out day-to-day advisories informing people of the roads which will be affected and the timings of the movements,’’ said Satyendra Garg, Joint Commissioner of Police (traffic).

Not many road blocks are expected in the first two days on the rest of the stretches. The Organizing Committee has drawn up a training schedule too for athletes but this movement will begin full swing after a sizeable number of athletes have arrived.

The dedicated Games lanes have been marked mostly on the extreme right of arterial roads across the city. The lanes are painted using a solid yellow line with blue boxes with the Commonwealth Games logo and arrows at regular intervals. Those entering the lanes while the blocks are on will have to pay a fine of Rs 2,000 via a special notification being invoked by the cops.

To calm traffic volumes, the traffic had written to Delhi government to close schools, colleges, courts, factories, etc. In addition, all Games tickets will come with a free to and for Metro ride to the venue which spectators to events can avail of. Delhi-ites are also being urged to use public transport as far as possible. But despite all measures, the cordoning off of the one lane is expected to lead to jams, especially on two lanes roads falling on the route like Sardar Patel Marg, Kamal Attaturk Marg, Mall road, etc.

Four Countries Complain About Unliveable Conditions in Games Village

Amid all the gloom about chaotic preparations for the Commonwealth Games, there was at least one silver lining: the widespread applause for the ‘‘world class’’ Games Village at its soft launch on September 16. Unfortunately, the Organizing Committee has run into a rude reality check even on this front.

Advance teams from New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Ireland have objected strongly to the condition of the accommodation, say highly placed sources. The reason lack of maintenance of apartments in the towers allotted to these contingents and their abysmal, ‘‘unliveable’’ condition, say team delegates. Toilets in particular are said to be in a “mess”.

Sources said the apartments, which are left unlocked through the day and night, were found to be dirty. In some flats, labourers had defecated. In others, fixtures and other facilities were still to be provided or weren’t working. Though athletes are to start moving in after September 23, work in just 18 of the 34 towers is said to be complete. The advance teams believe the remaining work is unlikely to be completed for weeks.

The delegates are learnt to have told the OC that unless the apartments are set right, their teams should be put up in a Games Family hotel the Ashok or Janpath or some other accommodation. This could add to the OC’s logistical problems.

‘Fixtures Don’t Work, Toilets A Mess’

Condition of Games Village has prompted delegates from New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Ireland to issue ultimatum to OC

Apartments in towers allotted to these countries, especially Kiwis, abysmal. Site workers have been using the unlocked flats. Toilets are stained. Fixtures haven’t been installed, don’t work or are broken

Size of contingent | Canada 400, New Zealand 325, Scotland 300

Those happy with Village | Australia, England

Welsh official had said more work needed in apartments

Several Commonwealth countries have raised concern over the facilities at the Games Village. Mike Hooper, CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), confirmed,’ There have been issues about the lack of maintenance in the towers, which is being addressed by the OC.’’

Hooper admitted that it was a serious issue, but claimed, ‘‘The OC is working right now to ensure that conditions are improved. The issue should be resolved before the athletes arrive.’’OC secretary-general Lalit Bhanot refused to comment.

Sources, however, admitted that ‘‘objections’’ had been lodged with the OC for the past several days, in fact, ever since the soft launch of the Village.

While the teams from Australia, Wales and England expressed satisfaction, the towers shown to the delegates from New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Ireland failed to impress the visiting delegates.

Though the Welsh have not complained, Chris Jenkins, chef de mission of the Wales team, had admitted at the soft launch that several improvements needed to be made in the apartments given to the team.

Jenkins had said, ‘‘Though the apartments are very nice, some work still needs to be completed like fixtures and other minor details. We are going through all the apartments to ensure that everything is ready for the athletes when they arrive.’’

The Kiwis, with a 300-plus strong contingent, have been provided an entire tower in the Village, say sources.

‘‘While the towers numbered 1-15 are in good condition, the towers numbered higher are not fully ready. These are some of the towers that were allotted to the Kiwis, Canadians and the other two teams,’’ explained an official.

Monday, September 20, 2010

New excavation by ASI at Siri Fort will Be Showcased to CWG Visitors

You may have passed by the remains of Siri Fort wall on the busy Khel Gaon Marg several times without even noticing it. But now the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will shed light on the historical 14th century fortification wall, built during the regime of Alauddin Khilji.

The ASI has excavated buried portions of the wall near Gargi College on Siri Fort Road. These portions will be illuminated to attract visitors using this stretch during the Commonwealth Games.

According to historians, the entire area from Gargi College to Siri Fort Auditorium near Shahpurjat is rich in history and one can find innumerable archaeological remains there. ‘‘Till now, one could see portions of Siri Fort wall only on Khel Gaon Marg while going towards the auditorium. We decided to excavate the buried portions of Siri Fort wall near Gargi College for the first time. Nothing was visible in the area because of the dense vegetation. The stretch is likely to be used frequently during the Games as it leads to the Siri Fort Sports Complex, one of the venues. We, therefore, wanted people to see the fortification wall as they drive past it,’’ said an official.

Sources said excavation of almost 1-km stretch of the wall took up to four months. ‘‘We raised the height to about 4-feet above the ground so that the wall can be seen by onlookers. As most of the work has been completed, we will soon hand over the site to DDA for landscaping and illumination of the wall,’’ said sources. The iron bridge erected on the road by the Army to connect to a parking lot will be removed after the Games and ASI officials said permission for this was only temporary.

Recent excavation at the Siri Fort wall has led to discoveries in the form of gates, bastions and ramparts. Earlier, only traces of one of the seven existing gateways could be found in the debris near the auditorium but over the last several years fresh evidence in the shape of the fortification wall has been unearthed. Historians claim there could be a buried palace complex within the Siri Fort wall ruins.

Touted as a new tourist destination for the city, excavations have been carried out at Siri Fort wall for the past few years. Experts said as the site is huge, they have to choose different points for digging where there is more evidence of buried ruins. Most of the other excavations of the wall have taken place on both sides of the road leading to Shahpurjat. ‘‘We want to expose the whole circle of Siri Fort wall in the same way it was done with Qila Rai Pithora some years ago,’’ said officials.

Officials said there were chances of stumbling upon forgotten artifacts like glazed pottery or vessels during excavation. If one chronicles history, one realizes there is a possibility of discovering skeletal remains of Mongol warriors in the fortification wall and officials are hoping to unearth something new that will shed light on the era of Alauddin Khilji.

HERITAGE TRAIL

Buried portions of Siri Fort wall have been excavated near Gargi College on Khel Gaon Marg This area was earlier covered with dense vegetation ASI has raised the wall’s height by 4ft to make it visible to passersby Remains of the 14th-century wall will be illuminated for Games visitors Site to be handed over to DDA which will carry out landscaping Till now, only portions of wall near Siri Fort Auditorium near Shahpurjat could be seen Only one of seven gateways was visible earlier

Zoo Themed Products from Toys to Apparel will be Sold to CWG Visitors

Come October and the Delhi Zoo will have its own souvenir shop where a large assortment of zoo-themed products from toys to apparel will be available on sale for Commonwealth Games visitors.

“We expect a large number of visitors both domestic and foreign particularly during the Games slated to be held from October 3. We would like them to go home with souvenirs portraying zoo logos,” Delhi Zoo Director Anand Krishna said. Besides athletes and delegates from 53 countries, thousands of foreign tourists are expected to flock the capital for the mega sports event.

Games OC Assures for Games Security

Hours after two gunmen fired at a foreign tourist party near Gate No 3 of Jama Masjid on Sunday, the Delhi Police increased security at all important installations in the city. Security at all historical and religious places like Red Fort and Akshardham Temple as well as government buildings was stepped up. Police said all local calls made in the central Delhi area during and immediately after the attack were being scanned and occupants of the hotels at Daryaganj and Jama Masjid area were being verified.

Police have already barricaded Red Fort and are asking visitors to go through stringent checks. ‘‘We have increased our presence in the railway stations and ISBTs. Highest security is being accorded to the venues,’’ said a senior north district officer.

With the Commonwealth Games round the corner, residents have started questioning whether deployment of 40% of the district staff for CWG training and deployment was affecting day-to-day policing operations in the city. Delhi Police, however, vehemently denied any such notion and said new officers have been inducted in the force to tackle the situation. ‘‘Extra deployment from the additional forces are being made accordingly,’’ said a senior central district officer.

The Union home ministry is closely monitoring the investigations into the shooting incident near the Jama Masjid here on Sunday and has sought a report from the Delhi police. Senior home ministry officials said they are keeping a close watch on the developments in the wake of the firing incident, which comes just days ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Delhi, which was already on alert in view of the CWG, has been put on high alert after the shooting incident.

Meanwhile, the CWG Organizing Committee said the incident on Sunday morning will not have any impact on the Games next month and assured that India would provide foolproof security to the visiting athletes and officials.

CWG OC spokesperson Lalit Bhanot said the country’s security establishment has made elaborate arrangements to ensure that the participants and officials are safe during the Games. ‘‘The ministry of home affairs and Delhi Police have made elaborate arrangements to provide the Commonwealth Games athletes and officials a safe and secure environment,’’ Bhanot said in the statement.

‘‘The Commonwealth Games Associations of the nations and territories have been satisfied with the plans and preparations made by Delhi Police and the International Security Liaison Group, formed by the ministry of home affairs,’’ he said.

Games Security: NSG and Indian Air Force to train Delhi Police Commandos

To thwart any aerial threat during the Commonwealth Games, about 150 personnel of Delhi Police’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team have been trained by the IAF and the NSG to shoot down suspicious manned and unmanned “flying objects”.

Besides select commandos, IPS officers designated as Commonwealth Games venue commanders in charge of the venues have also been given specialized training by NSG as well as IAF. “The module was aimed at imparting skills to gun down manned and unmanned flying objects. They have received training to detect and detonate remote control flying planes or other aerial object,” a senior Delhi Police officer said requesting anonymity.

He said the trained commandos will be deployed at vantage points inside and outside 13 Games venues as snipers.

The training session was attended by senior officers and central paramilitary forces, sources said. The men were given special lessons to tackle any sort of terror strikes and a host of other situations like hostage crises and stampede, they said.

Over 70 countries are likely to participate in the sporting event scheduled here between October 3 and 14. Delhi Police and central security agencies are striving hard to ensure adequate security for the event, which is being hosted by the country for the first time. More than one lakh security personnel would be seen in action during the Games including about 175 companies (17,500 personnel) of paramilitary forces, 3,000 commandos, 100 anti sabotage teams, 200 dogs and 15 bomb disposal squads.

In view of the possibility of terror attack, the government has roped in Army specialists to operate jammers and signal decryption equipment at the Games venues. These precautions are aimed at preventing terrorists from triggering explosions by remote-control.

No parking near 470 sites

Reacting to the incident at Jama Masjid which has led to a scare in the city, the lieutenant-governor, Tejendra Khanna, held an emergency meeting with the police commissioner, YS Dadwal, and senior officials of the agencies concerned to take stock of the situation on Sunday.

The meeting discussed the law and order situation and saw the LG issue directions to the CP to introduce special security measures with immediate effect. A senior official pointed out that there are 470 sites which have been identified as sensitive or high-risk in the city.

Thus the first step towards taking special measures to enhance security would be to put these points under strict vigil.

Delhi Police said they have also asked the officials at these places to install CCTVs since they are high on the list of possible targets for a terror attack.

‘‘The security on premises has to be beefed up and we have asked them to deploy armed guards wherever required. We have also intensified patrolling and deployment at vital installations,’’ added a police officer.

On the allegations made by the Shahi Imam and others at Jama Masjid that the requisite security measures were not in place despite reminders to the police, senior officials refused to comment. However, the LG’s office said that letters had been written time and again to religious institutions like Jama Masjid, Akshardham temple and others asking them to make security arrangements like CCTV cameras.

Some of the heritage sites where these curbs will now apply are Qutab Minar, Jama Masjid, Purana Qila, Humanyun’s Tomb, India Gate, Jantar Mantar, Red Fort, Safdarjung Tomb, Delhi Gate, Kashmere Gate, Turkman Gate, Fatehpuri Masjid and Tughlaqabad Fort.

Among vital installations and iconic buildings are Lotus Temple, Akshardham Temple, Kalakji Temple, Jhandewalan Temple, Indian Oil building, Birla Temple, Reserve Bank of India, PTI building, Police headquarters, Shastri Bhavan, Delhi University, Pallika Sadan Kendra, Palika Bazar, NDMC building, Connaught Place and Safdarjung Airport.

These restrictions are going to cause a lot of inconvenience for people in the city and could also lead to police highhandedness. Two-wheeler drivers have always been the favorite whipping boys of the cops only at the check-posts.

No parking near 470 sites

No Pillion Riding Near These Places, Say Cops After LG Meet

Hours after the attack on two foreign tourists outside the historic Jama Masjid, Delhi Police came out with a list of 470 sites where security has been upgraded and restrictions imposed.

All such sites will have no parking within 100 meters. Also bikers with pillion riders will not be allowed anywhere near them. The decisions were taken as part of special security measures being implemented on the directions of the lieutenant governor of Delhi.

Brave heart Rickshaw Puller Chased Attackers; threw stones at them

We Salute the Brave heart rickshaw Puller who Show the Spirit of the Country

Salim, a 26-year-old rickshaw-puller, didn’t cower in fear when he saw the two assailants open fire. He picked up a stone and hurled them at the attackers, turning into an unlikely hero.

He was dropping a passenger at Gate No. 3 when he noticed the two gunmen opening fire on the tourist bus. Seeing Salim charging towards them, the two men panicked and dropped a magazine at the spot. He was also the one who alerted the cops nearby after which the police started chasing them. One of the constables, Pramod, posted at the gate, tried to chase the men.

Both Pramod and Salim have given investigators leads on which the probe will progress. Pramod said the two men were wearing helmets and the pillion rider was armed. Salim, meanwhile, told a famous English Daily that ‘‘one man had the bike’s engine running while the pillion rider had just finished firing the shots. He tried threatening me with the gun, but when he saw that I had a stone in hand, he panicked and dropped several live cartridges on the ground. Before I could reach them, they zoomed off.’’

‘‘I was talking to a customer when I heard the shots and saw the men escaping. My father, who was sitting nearby, told me these were gunshots and that’s why I ran to see what had happened. The men were on the bike and disappeared in a matter of seconds,’’ said B K Srivastav, who owns a shop near Gate No.3.

Other eyewitnesses said a policeman tried to follow the assailants on foot but bent down to pick up the live cartridges instead. Some other policemen reportedly followed the attackers but eventually lost the trail. The eyewitnesses also claimed that the attackers fired a shot in the air near Gate No.5 to get away without any hassle. ‘‘I saw the men zooming past my shop. They were on a Passion Plus bike and the pillion rider was wearing a green shirt while the rider was wearing black. They appeared clean shaven and were quite tall and well-built,’’ said Imran, who owns a shop near Gate No. 5.

‘I heard the shots and at first thought they were Chinese crackers that can be found in the market. It was only later that we realized what had happened,’’ said Abdul Qavi, who lives near Gate No. 5.

It Seems the God of Rains Do Not to Have Games Successful

The month’s wettest day, with heavy rain in the morning and an incessant drizzle thereafter, made Sunday the coldest September day in Delhi in at least five years. The maximum temperature crashed to 23.6 degrees Celsius 10 degrees below normal barely 0.5 degrees above the minimum temperature. The city saw 56.2mm rain till 8.30pm; most of it came between 8.30am and 11.30am.

Records show this is the wettest monsoon in Delhi since 1978. Rainfall since June 1 has touched 949mm, just a shade lower than 965.1mm recorded during the monsoon of 1978. Sunday’s rain also took Delhi’s rainfall during September to 250.6mm, the highest since 1998 when 280.4 mm was recorded.

With heavy rains in northwest India, Delhi faces possibly its worst flood threat this season. The Hathnikund barrage increased its releases from 7pm on Saturday, reaching almost 6.92 lakh cusec on Sunday.

Terrorist Try to Spread Fear But Cannot Wipe Games Spirit

In a strike clearly aimed at creating fear and uncertainty ahead of the Commonwealth Games, two motorcycle-borne assailants opened fire on a group of Taiwanese nationals outside Jama Masjid on Sunday morning. Two tourists were injured in the attack, triggering a clampdown by the Delhi government.

The timing of the attack the anniversary of the Batla House shootout and an email by Indian Mujahideen claiming responsibility, indicate that the planners had focused on sending a ‘message’ rather than inflicting huge damage. It pointed to the continuing strategy of terrorists of picking soft targets like foreign nationals at public places.

More than two hours after the shooting, a Maruti 800 parked close to the site mysteriously caught fire. Later, the bomb disposal squad found a pressure cooker fitted with a crude device, which could be an explosive or an inflammable substance, on the rear seat.

The two Taiwanese victims, Ze-Weiku (35) and Chiang Ko (38), were rushed to Lok Nayak Hospital.

Ze-Weiku had a miraculous escape as a bullet grazed his head while Chiang Ko was hit in the right abdomen. Despite surgery, he is still stated to be critical.

CCTVs didn’t work, removed Installed after 2006 Blasts, the Cameras Didn’t Function; Metal Detectors at Jama Masjid Too Are Faulty

Jama Masjid is located in a congested and sensitive area and should be top priority for security measures, but Sunday’s attack has exposed many lapses on part of the cops.

The historic monument which witnessed two blasts on April 14, 2006 no longer has the 20 CCTV cameras that were installed soon after that incident. The cameras were removed just 15 days ago since they had stopped functioning. The metal detectors installed at the gates are not working properly and the number of policemen deployed at the monument has also thinned down as most of the cops have been put on Commonwealth Games duty.

The two attackers on Sunday fired several times at the tourists in front of Gate No.3 and managed to escaped though the police station is located barely a few hundred metres away. Due to the heavy footfall of foreigners and locals, cops says they find it impossible to scan each and every individual. The traffic congestion and narrow lanes near the mosque make it more vulnerable to such attacks.

After the incident on Sunday, the cops were seen removing vendors from the road, but the damage was already done.

The Shahi Imam of the mosque, Ahmed Bukhari, claimed that the CCTV cameras were installed after ‘‘Delhi Police asked Delhi the wakf board to step up security. Despite repeated requests to the wakf board to make the cameras work, nothing happened. Finally, we got them removed 15 days ago and sent them back to the board,’’ claimed the Imam.

Police said most of the doorframe metal detectors were not working and hence hand-held detectors were used. ‘‘On rush days, it is impossible to check each and every visitor. We have a strong police presence in and around the mosque and all the gates are manned by policemen round the clock,’’ said a police officer.

Meanwhile, the mosque authorities claimed they have been requesting the Union home ministry orally and in writing to increase security measures at Jama Masjid. The Shahi Imam had in May this year written to home minister P Chidambaram seeking upgrading of security at the mosque. He had suggested measures like installation of CCTV cameras and deployment of CRPF personnel. Bukhari said highly trained personnel were needed to man Jama Masjid as it had been targeted by terrorists in 2006.

Syed Yahya Bukhari, the Imam’s younger brother and president of Jama Masjid United Forum, claimed the metal detectors were only for show and could be easily bypassed by people entering the mosque as the police personnel deployed there were not present always. ‘‘Even if some higher authority comes to check whether security measures are in place, the personnel are tipped in advance and they are there on duty when the checking takes place. This doesn’t help anybody,’’ he said.