Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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.