Thursday, April 29, 2010

CWG set to become the biggest draw

I knew instinctively that the world had started seeing the larger picture of the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi when in one of my recent interviews, an overseas journalist asked me about the importance of the Games to India’s emergence as a soft power. With 155 days to go for the start, there is growing awareness about India and its incredible draw.

Perhaps, that is the reason we continue to hear good news from countries as far flung as Australia and England. In the past week, the Australian Commonwealth Games Association CEO, Mr Perry Crosswhite and Commonwealth Games England Chairman Sir Andrew Foster have reassured their athletes that Delhi will be safe and secure for their athletes and have said they will both bring the biggest contingents to a CWG outside their home nations. Between these two teams, I guess they will account for nearly 1200 participants in the Games.

From a sporting perspective, I was delighted to hear that Australia has named a preliminary squad of 69 track and field athletes including world pole vault champion Steve Hooker. Australia has also announced a 48-member swimming contingent including 2008 Olympic champion Stephanie Rice and former world record holder Eamon Sullivan. Olympic silver medallist Geoff Huegill, who has lost 45kg in a year and a half, is also in the squad. Double Olympic gold medalist swimmer Rebecca Adlington and world champs Liam Tancock and Gemma Spofforth will spearhead England’s challenge.

I was also pleased when I heard that England’s Bradley Wiggins, who had three Olympic gold medals and five world championship titles against his name, has decided to focus on competing in the Commonwealth Games ahead of the World Championship to be held in Australia in September 2010. And, in Adelaide, World and Olympic champion Anna Meares, who is expected to compete in three events in Delhi, has said all the Aussie riders were looking forward to locking horns with their British rivals and the strong Kiwi team at the Games.

Indeed, when the Queen’s Baton was in Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast this month, we saw how sport can be a marvellous bridge between societies. Friendship through Sport is one of our key themes and we will see this emerge in a big way when the baton reaches India from the Wagah Border on June 25, 2010.

Back home, as we prepare to host the CGF’s CoCom next month, we are very confident that we are on course to organising a great Games that will leave an impact in the minds of all concerned — athletes, technical officials, sponsors, broadcasters and other media, volunteers, spectators and, above all, the citizens of Delhi. We have got a tremendous response for our volunteer programme Delhi United, inspiring confidence that the city’s young and old alike have started taking ownership of the Games. Besides, I can see a growing awareness about Olympic sport in India.

Let me leave you to mull over a statement by Australia’s Chef de Mission. A wonderful marathon runner in his time and Mayor of the Games Village in 2006, Steve Moneghetti told the media on the sidelines of the Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 in Melbourne that he is really looking forward to returning to Delhi. “It’s such a cosmopolitan place and a place you really fall in love with,” he said. I am sure each athlete will say the same after the Games. Yes, indeed, it is time for everyone to discover what a beautiful city Delhi is and what a wonderful country India is.

Private participation a must for developing more houses in Delhi

The JNNURM funds have almost exhausted and much more are required for revamping Indian cities, says urban development secretary M Ramachandran in an exclusive interview with FE’s Kakoly Chatterjee. He also discusses the finer implications of the plan to allow private participation in building houses in Delhi and the preparations for Commonwealth Games.

Is your ministry focusing on new schemes now that most of the funds for Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) are already used up and the programme is in its last phase?

Cities and states have to concentrate on improving implementation and so it is not correct to say that there is nothing in hand now. Implementation is a big task as although a sum of Rs 29,000 crore has already been committed for mission cities and approximately Rs 12,000 crore have been disbursed, a huge amount still remains unutilised. If we keep the seven-year deadline of the mission, only two years are left for the completion while the task is mammoth. Lack of new funds could affect taking up of new projects, but for that the Planning Commission will try to find new funds for the urban agenda once the mid-term review is completed. However, the pace of implementation of the projects and meeting reform milestones still remains a concern. We are focusing on that and asking the states to expedite the pace. Of the JNNURM funds, a very small amount still remains uncommitted and some states—Jharkhand, Delhi and West Bengal— are yet to receive funds.

Also, we have started discussion with the World Bank for tying up a sum of $1 billion. The concept paper is taking shape and hopefully by the end of this year, they will go through the approval process. The release of funds is likely by the beginning of next year. As far as including more cities under JNNURM is concerned, it will depend on the outlay by the Planning Commission. The discussions that we have had with the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission show that he is aware of the requirements. Some reports have come out recently including the McKinsey and Isher Ahluwalia reports which say that more investments are required in the sector.

How will you compare urban development projects of India and those of other developing countries?

We do present our work at the international level whenever we have an opportunity. I attended the Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting earlier this year where people wanted to know how we are implementing this programme in our cities. In fact, the housing secretary of US was curious to know how this works in a federal system. There was a request from Bangladesh which is keen to know how the mission is working. Also, there is a sharing of information via channels like Asian Development Bank or World Bank. Agencies like the World Bank are on board with us. Perhaps for the first time the World Bank showed some interest in Indian urban development and offered to work with us. So, there is an all-round recognition of the huge initiatives that have been taken in this area. This is a big achievement. There is scope for lot of give and take and these might not be formalised or structured.

What are your objectives when it comes to Delhi zonal plans?

Under the plan, areas would be earmarked for residential, commercial and mixed development.

The plan for Lutyens’ zone would be formulated in such a manner that the ambience remains largely intact. An eco-friendly development plan is under preparation for the Yamuna bank zone.

Will private participation be allowed in Zonal Plans?

A policy decision on that is yet to be taken and the Delhi Development Authority is still working that out. Currently, only DDA can build houses in Delhi but once private participation is allowed, the DDA and the private players would be in a position to pool in land, increase housing stock and provide housing for the poor, too. It may not be possible for DDA alone to bridge the gap between requirement and availability of housing in the city. Increasing housing stock is a huge challenge and it is not possible for one agency or company to address the scarcity.

What kind of resource mobilisation will be required to develop the infrastructure once the new land bank is released after the finalisation of the zonal plans?

I cannot quantify it but huge investments will be required to put water, sewerage, electricity and other infrastructure requirements in place.

The stimulus package for buses worked as a miracle for some cities for which revamping of urban transport was long overdue. Are you planning to extend this scheme to other cities as well?

It all depends on availability of resources. Earlier we had moved for extending this facility to cities but it could not be carried on because of fund crunch. New schemes can be planned only when the Planning Commission agrees and gives an outlay but there is no such development as of now. When the new plan period starts we hope to start new infrastructure schemes for the sector, depending on the resources available and private participation.

Will bonds be issued to raise funds?

Cities have to take a call if they want to raise more funds. There is no central assistance apart from the Plan panel allocation. If any local body wants to issue a bond it is welcome to do so. Urban local bodies are competent to do that but they have to become more dynamic by taking some steps like implementing double entry in their accounts system etc. Cities also have to change the way they function.

The real estate sector is worried over the service tax proposed in the Budget.They have expressed concern over the proposed tax, but the sector is now on the recovery path. One will have to wait for the finance minister’s reply in Parliament (to know if the tax will be implemented).

What is the status of the real estate regulatory Bill?

We are in consultation with various stakeholders before we finalise it. However, we will not be introducing the Bill in this session of Parliament. Once the Bill becomes a law, there will be more transparency in the sector.

How much work is uncomplete for Commonwealth Games and what challenges are you facing right now? Is there any fund crunch?

All work is on track and the stadia work should be completed by the end of June. It is a comfortable situation because the work is going as per the schedule. No, there is no fund crunch for the Commonwealth Games.

By when do you see Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) coming up in Indian cities?

Some of the cities in the country are already in the process of forming this body. It will be a single decision making body that will take policy decisions on all aspects of transport in a city like roads and traffic management and coordination between various modes like metros and buses. Common ticketing will be facilitated. It will be easier to be implemented once it becomes a legislative body

MCD in trouble over poor waste disposal

Taking a serious view of the worsening state of solid waste management in the city, the Delhi High Court on Thursday issued a contempt of court notice to Anil Prakash, Director of the Sanitation Wing of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

Reminding the civic agency about the fast-approaching Commonwealth Games, a Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul told the civic agency: “In the name of

the event, you exercise your right everywhere but it seems you have completely forgotten your duties.”

The official is to respond to the notice on August 27.

The court’s action came after the latest (April 15) report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which portrayed a dismal picture and showed deterioration in the handling of solid waste by MCD.

The CPCB conducted a survey of 1,676 waste receptacles including dhalaus, dustbins and waste collection trolleys across 12 zones of MCD and two circles of North and East Delhi between January 6 and March 23, 2010.

As per their 40th report, 47 per cent of them were found in unsanitary condition, while 27 per cent were in a dilapidated condition.

The court noted that the condition of the waste receptacles had worsened, as in their 39th report eight months ago, the figures were 36 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.

The panel also noted that there was a 13 per cent increase in the presence of stray animals near dhalaus.

The CPCB said the situation was much better in the 640 waste collection centres of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) that they inspected.

Although the MCD assured the court on March 5 that the situation had improved after it took effective measures, the court clearly told the MCD that it would issue a contempt notice if the latest CPCB found the claim to be false.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Ashok Aggarwal, bringing to its attention poor sanitary conditions in the Capital.

Getting ready for Commonwealth Games, Gurgaon traffic cops hit the gym

The Gurgaon Police has sent several of its senior traffic officers to the training barracks to shape up before the Commonwealth Games.

The Games and the wide exposure it will bring for the National Capital Region are reasons enough to lose the belly, the top brass has warned juniors. It has decided to pull out several “potbellied” traffic officers and replace them with those who are more energetic and fighting fit.

The police top brass has noticed for long that the more portly officers tend to throw their weight around rather than do their job.

A recent medical check-up of all Gurgaon police officers, including that of the senior rung in the commissionerate, has shown that many are unhealthy; some are even ailing. Most cops blamed the tough work schedules for their condition.

They pointed out the unruly traffic in the Millennium City was a mean snarl, not easy to tame. Seniors, many said, lacked the required degree of fitness.

At present, nearly 267 policemen direct traffic in the city. Almost an equal number need to be recruited in the traffic department before the Games, sources said. The force also has over three dozen women traffic constables.

The traffic police are also expected to be on top behaviour with violators. Gurgaon’s Police Commissioner S S Deswal said: “It is important for traffic officers to maintain decorum on duty. They should be polite to commuters, specially to women. We also expect women constables to behave properly with traffic violators.”

Grewal added the traffic officer’s work is the toughest. They have difficult work conditions, and are always caught in the thick of pollution, he said. And to add to it all are the rowdy drivers.

Grewal said senior traffic officers have already been sent to police lines for a rigorous programme that will include several hours in the gym.

Other senior officers, including the assistant commissioner of the traffic department, are keeping a hawk’s eye on how traffic policemen on the road are going about their job.

Govt should be more transparent in funding CWG: NGO

An independent organisation has sent a petition to an MLA asking the government to be more transparent in the massive funding of the Commonwealth Games 2010, and claimed that none of it will come to any use to the common man.

United Volunteers Association (UVA), a youth group, yesterday petitioned the Sadar Bazar MLA Rajesh Jain with arguments and written documents presenting the ''real face of the CW Games and how it works against the poor in the city''.

The petition claimed that close to Rs 27,000 crores have reportedly been spent on projects connected with the CW Games.

''For a city, which cannot supply drinking water to half its residents, has to borrow power every summer and has half the city living in slums, this expense is criminal,'' Sandeep Malhotra of UVA who led the delegation to meet Mr Jain, said.

The UVA demanded a commitment from the government that an equivalent sum would be spent on the citys slum dwellers.

UP gears up to attract tourism during Common Wealth Games

Uttar Pradesh Government is preparing itself in a big way to showcase the rich historical and cultural traditions of the state with special highlight on Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri during the fortnight long Commonwealth Games 2010 to be held in New Delhi
from October 3.

On the lines of Taj Mahotsav, the state Government will organise a mega international cultural fest in Agra during the games where the traditional values of Braj would be highlighted along with a focus on the other important religious and cultural traditions of the state.

'' UP Government is already doing the ground work to invite of world class artistes at that time who will enthral the foreign tourists who visit Taj,''said UP director general tourism Avneesh Awasthi said here today.

Talking to UNI, Mr Awasthi, who is personally monitoring the programmes and the development works in Agra-Mathura- Fatepur Sikri region to attract the foreign tourists coming to the country during Commonwealth Games, said the cultural programmes would be a bonanza with the participation of national and international artistes.

Refusing to divulge details about the participating artistes, he said it was still five months away. So most of the invitees were yet to confirm their participation. We are also trying to rope in all the artistes who would perform in the Games in Delhi,'' he said adding that the programme would be similar like the annual Taj Mahotsav. Expecting about 1,00,000 tourists in Delhi during the Games, a majority travelling to visit Taj and Jaipur, the UP tourism has also started sprucing up the with facilities financial aid from the Centre as well as from the state government. ''Private investors are already constructing several hotels in Agra, Mathura and Fatehpur Sikri while way-side ammenities are being developed on the 180 km road between New Delhi-Mathura- Agra-Fatehpur Sikri,'' he added.

Meanwhile, the Centre has sanctioned 10 battery operated buses and 10 golf carts for Taj to ferry foreign tourists during their visits.

Commonwealth Games England launch vote to choose Delhi anthem

Commonwealth Games England (CGE) will let the nation decide which anthem will be played at the New Delhi Games after launching a competition that will allow the public to vote online.

Voters can choose  between God Save The Queen, Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory - with the winner becoming the official anthem of the England Team to be played on the podium in Delhi, as well as at the welcoming ceremony when the St. George’s flag is raised.

Edward Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory is the current anthem but was criticised during Manchester's Commonwealth Games in 2002.

Duncan Lewis, Marketing Director for Commonwealth Games England, said, “We’re really excited that the nation will be deciding our anthem for the Games.

"Everybody has their own opinion on what should be played, and having the public actively involved in the team’s decision making is great. Their involvement represents everything that we’re trying to achieve with our inclusive ‘We Are England’ brand – bringing the whole of the country together”.

Scottish athletes voted for Flower of Scotland to be their official national anthem for Delhi earlier this year.

Scotland the Brave had been used at previous games, but athletes voted by 211 to 15 in favour of Flower of Scotland.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hidden Side:There's A Heavy Cost To Making Delhi Glitter For Games.It's What No One Wants To Look At

Delhi may well be bringing its citizens world-class infrastructure, thanks to the Commonwealth Games (CWG). But the human cost of development and the long-term impact on the poorer sections are either being underplayed or overlooked. As work races to meet the October deadline, stories abound of violation of labour laws, use of child labour, shabby living conditions, even deaths. The long-term cut: the CWG will leave behind lakhs of homeless.Around 15 lakh migrant labourers working in the capital are likely to be rendered homeless once their work for the CWG is completed.

Add to that the one lakh families whose jhuggis have been bulldozed to beautify the city or to create parking lots. Since they haven't been provided alternative housing, these people are either setting up makeshift settlements on the outskirts or on the roadsides. It's not as if the government doesn't understand the scale and magnitude of the problem. "We will have about 30 lakh homeless in the city after the games," says Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit. "This is a serious concern. Housing for them will be a priority after the games."

Under The Carpet


* The capital will have 30 lakh homeless after the Commonwealth Games

* 12-15 lakh of them will be migrant labourers who build the games sites

* One lakh families have been displaced to facilitate beautification plans and build parking lots

* About 2,000 boys aged 14-16 years are working at several games sites in gross violation of labour laws

* So far, over 70 deaths have taken place during construction work and due to diseases caused by the unhealthy conditions prevailing at the living quarters of the labourers

* 50,000 adult beggars and 60,000 child beggars will be removed from the city for the duration of the games and housed in camps on the outskirts

* There is anger over the money that is being splurged. Also at the new taxes announced by the Delhi government.

That "after", sincere and well-intentioned though it may be, is a giveaway to what might never get done, considering how the system works and considering the overwhelming numbers involved. And the amorphous noise of the suffering millions will drown out the pathos of individual stories, like that of Rani. For the last ten years, she lived with her husband and three children in a one-room house near the Hanuman temple in Connaught Place. A few months ago, they were asked to vacate to make way for a parking lot. No alternative housing was provided, so the family began to live on the pavement and it's from there that the children go to school. With the games drawing nearer, they fear another eviction.

England to travel to 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi

English athletes have got the go-ahead travel to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, the BBC has learned.

There was speculation that the English team would pull out of the Games in Delhi amid security fears.

The BBC has learned that Commonwealth Games England is set to write to all its sports governing bodies informing them that the team will go to India.

Some 71 nations are expected to take part in the Commonwealth Games, which open on 3 October.

It will be the biggest multi-sport event in India since the Asian Games in 1982.

Commonwealth Games England (CGE) has been receiving regular security updates from Delhi and the assessment is that it will be safe to travel.

Sir Andrew Foster, chairman of CGE, told the BBC: "England's intention is to compete at the Games and we are currently making arrangements to create the best possible environment for success in Delhi.

"Our team will be the biggest England team for an overseas Games to date with an anticipated team size of more than 550, including nearly 400 athletes."

He added that security is something that CGE and the organising committee for the Games "take very seriously".

"We have taken, and will continue to take, expert advice on the situation," he said.

Fresh concerns had been raised about the security situation in India after bomb blasts injured 14 people before an IPL cricket match in Bangalore on 17 April.

The current official Foreign Office advice is that "there are increased indications that terrorists are planning attacks in New Delhi".

But CGE said it is confident that athletes will be safe in India.

However, athletes will be told that if they are picked for the team they will be free to withdraw from the Games if they do not wish to take part.

Half of city lives in slums and illegal colonies: MCD

In what comes as a dampener to the civic bodys sustained campaign to present a beautiful face of Delhi during the Commonwealth Games,the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Tuesday revealed a filthy side of the national capital before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Nearly half of 15 million Delhiites live in slums,JJ clusters and unauthorized colonies which have little or no garbage collection system,it said.

About 49% of the total population of Delhi lives in slum areas,unauthorized colonies and about 860 JJ clusters.There are also 20,000 jhuggies and according to a rough estimate about five persons stay in each jhuggi besides a sizable population living in unplanned areas having no proper system of collection,transportation and disposal of municipal solid wastes, said the affidavit filed through advocate Sanjiv Sen.

What is more startling is that despite formulation of the Master Plan 2021,the government has not been able to bring most of the residential areas under its purview.The MCD said: As a rough estimate only about 5% of the population lives in planned areas.

This means nearly 73.5 lakh people of the 1.5 crore population live in slums and unauthorized colonies and that only 7.5 lakh Delhiites enjoy civic amenities to the fullest being residents of planned development areas.This affidavit was filed by the civic body to highlight the urgent need for an alternative sanitary landfill (SLF) site as the one next to the Ghazipur slaughterhouse was more than full and unable to take any more load.

It said that MPD-2021 has estimated that Delhi would require an SLF site of the size of 1,500 acres. However,the size of the present three sites being used by MCD at Ghazipur,Bhalswa and Okhla together is less than 150 acres.Thus,MCD is operating from less than 10% of the estimated land required, the civic body said.

It blamed the piling up of filth and its non-collection on the uninterested approach of the Sheila Dikshit government and the Delhi Development Authority. The DDA and Delhi government have not yet been able to provide more suitable land in spite of repeated representations from MCD.The MCD is keen to stop operation from all the present three sites,including Ghazipur as soon as DDA and Delhi government allots it more land for SLF sites, it said.

Seeking the apex courts nod for using the abandoned Bhatti mines area as a SLF site,MCD said it was finding it extremely difficult to dispose 7,500 tonnes of municipal solid waste generated in Delhi.

The three SLF sites were almost saturated and it was becoming increasingly difficult to operate these sites due to height and slope constraints. MCD,however,is compelled to operate these sites at risk of loss of property and life due to non-availability of land for a new site, it said.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Baton to reach Chennai on Aug. 18

The Commonwealth Games (October 3 to 14) in New Delhi is less than six months away and as a prelude to the biggest sporting event that India has ever hosted is the ‘Queen's Baton Relay' that traverses all the 71nations, in the Commonwealth before reaching the venue of the Games.

The specially made Baton, designed by Foley Design and Titan Industries, is in essence an embodiment of the soul and spirit of India. From the soil of India to its waters, not to mention the 18-carat gold leaf which carries the special message of the head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II and special technological inputs, there is everything ingrained in this 1.9 kg object which is being carried around by over 5000 runners through various countries before coming to India via the Wagah border on June 25.

Launched on October 29, 2009, the baton is presently in Vanuatu in the Pacific Islands after completing its journey through Europe, Africa, the Caribbeans, Canada and Australia.

Lt. Gen. Raj Kadyan, Additional Director-General, Queen's Baton Relay, Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, giving a picture of the events ahead to newsmen on Tuesday, said the baton would traverse the length and breadth of the country before returning in time for the inauguration of the Games in New Delhi in October.

The baton will reach Chennai on August 18 before travelling to Thanjavur, Rameshwaram, Madurai and Kanyakumari between August 22 and 26. Then it moves to the Andamans. On its return from the Islands on August 30 the baton will travel to Coimbatore and Udhagamandalam and then to Kerala on September 1.

He said in each State the sports celebrities from there and also other icons as listed by the local authorities would join the relay.

Gen. Kadyan said the baton run was in keeping with the theme of ‘Green Games' and thereby encouraged each State where the baton visits to take steps to plant a minimum of 10,000 saplings. Then again the Baton Relay would prove an ideal forum for each State to present its cultural heritage.

Earlier, Ms. Priya Singh Paul, Additional Director General, Communications, gave an overview of the Games through a power-point presentation and clearly the message was the Indian capital was all geared up to take up this massive venture.

She and Gen. Kadyan had earlier in the day held discussions with the State Chief Secretary, K.S. Sripathi, on the various steps to be taken for Tamil Nadu phase of the Baton Relay. “The State is well prepared” was the assurance given.

Rare wall art found in forgotten mosque

For ages, it wallowed in obscurity. Now, an obscure mosque at the butterfly park in Lodhi Garden has thrown up a surprise for conservators, sprucing it up ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

A rare colour finish in fresco style has been found in the mosque that doesn’t even have a name.

A fresco is a mural — a form of artwork — painted on walls or ceilings.

Grime and dust were the mosque’s only friends as it lay hidden under bamboo shrubs covered by branches of a tree.

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is now taking steps to conserve what is turning out to be one of a kind mosque.

“Once we began cleaning the surface, we realised the mosque’s exterior was painted in red, resembling the fresco style. It is very rare for a late-Mughal period monument,” said Ajay Kumar, senior project manager of the Delhi Chapter of INTACH.

INTACH is sprucing up several monuments that have been recently notified by the Delhi State Archaeology Department. “The exterior has been done up in geru (natural reddish-brown dye) and also has ornamental plasterwork,” Kumar said adding that no other monument in Delhi has an exterior resembling this mosque’s exterior.

“The texture of the surface is different from the others inside the Garden too. The plaster on the walls also has a reddish tinge which indicates that the paint was done on wet plaster,” he said.

The monument has been listed as part of the Lodhi era in the INTACH’s The Built Heritage: A Listing published in 2000. But, looking at the architecture, INTACH conservationists feel it is a late Mughal-era structure.

A senior Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official, who wished anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media, said, “There are many monuments inside the garden and not all of them belong to the same period. The work done on the exterior is not very common. We are trying to ascertain the exact period to which the mosque belongs.”

The restoration work for the monument is expected to be completed by June.

It's Commonwealth Games

The countdown has started. With a little under six months left for the Delhi Commonwealth Games (CWG), India's fight with the clock is on. And because of its practical and political value, Delhi 2010 has become a highly sought-after commodity, the long term impact of which hinges not only on what happens during the Games, but more appropriately on the legacy it will leave behind.

India is almost ready to offer the world's athletes a first-rate Games village alongside first-rate facilities for most sporting competitions. Barring the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, construction of which has also picked up pace in recent months and the S P Mukherjee swimming complex, most venues are set to stage the test events leading up to the Games. The two venues mentioned are also likely to be ready before the country faces the world's cameras come August 2010 when the final countdown will start.

More than venues or the Games village, it is our urban infrastructure and the issue of community integration that appear to be of paramount importance in the time remaining. With Sheila Dikshit and Jaipal Reddy giving assurances on the issue of infrastructure, the government has been given the benefit of doubt. But, on the issue of community integration, the verdict is out: Delhi has a lot to catch up on.

One of the questions posed by the public is: whose Games are these? Do they belong to the organising committee or the government of India? Or do they belong to the Indian people at large? If it's the latter, as should be the case, little has been done to give citizens the feeling that it is their event and that it is being organised to benefit them in the long run. Unless the effort to promote community integration is undertaken with immediate effect, the legacy of Delhi 2010, it can be surmised, can be mixed at best.

Studies around Delhi and the National Capital Region help demonstrate that the ordinary taxpayer, whose money is being used to fund the Games, is still in the dark about most things pertaining to the mega event. For him, it is an exercise in opulence with little or no benefit in the longer term. Most believe that the sports facilities being created will never be within the reach of the common man and the problems facing them on a daily basis will far outnumber the gains promised.

While Delhi residents haven't yet raised the slogan "We want bread not circuses" of Toronto citizens in the 1990s and one which derailed that city's Olympic bid in 1996, they are smarting under the impact of the entire city being dug up. Hence they seem opposed to the biggest event in India's sporting history. Unless the organising committee is successful in winning people's confidence, the emotional connect so necessary in ensuring a successful Games legacy will be extremely difficult to achieve.

The other key element is how a mega event of this nature can finally create a sports culture in India. Can CWG 2010 create a rallying cry of 'sport for all' in all parts of India or will sport continue to be a haven for the rich? The notion of sport for all was certainly part of the Delhi 2010 vision which states, "More than all, the legacy of the XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi will be to boost...sports culture as a part of the daily life of every Indian, particularly the youth." However, the ground reality is somewhat different. With the stakeholders under incessant pressure to ready infrastructure on time, the vision of sport for all has receded into the background.

This inability to promote sport among the nation's youth becomes extremely pertinent in light of the observations of leading sports historian Bruce Kidd. He affirms that "despite the widespread 'intuitive' expectation that inspiring performances stimulate new participation, there is no evidence that they automatically lead others in the general population to do so, let alone in ways that address the most difficult challenges of development". Research demonstrates, he argues, that unless those inspired enjoy full access to sustainable programmes with safe, adequate facilities and conducted by competent, ethical leadership, the take-up - and the resulting benefits from mega events is short-lived and ineffective.

These observations are extremely relevant when applied to the legacy of the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi. There's little doubt that Delhi was fundamentally transformed as a result of that event. But it can definitively be asserted that the legacy of the Asian Games remains negative when viewed in terms of nurturing an all-pervasive sports culture in India. This is a drawback that helps explain why India has won one solitary individual Olympic gold medal in all these decades.

Knowing full well that the tremendous effort and cost of staging a major sporting event need to go along with the realisation of a sustainable legacy for sport, Delhi needs to step up and set an example. Only if this is done can Delhi serve as a perfect model of what the CWG could achieve if the facilities constructed for it are properly harnessed for the city's development.

Proposed lines under Ph-2 of Delhi Metro to be functional by Sept

All the proposed lines under Phase-II of the Delhi Metro will become functional by September and more trains could be expected on the routes that will connect the stadia during the Commonwealth Games, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) director (Electrical) Satish Kumar today said.

Talking to medaipersons at the Delhi Metro training institute here, Mr Kumar said, ''All the proposed lines under Phase-II will be functional by September.''

To a question about new plans of DMRC to meet demand of commuters during the Commonwealth Games, Mr Kumar said, ''Plans in Delhi Metro are made on a long-term basis and are not restricted to the Commonwealth Games, but still we are considering if we can operate more trains on the routes that will connect the stadia during the Games.''

The Metro training modules have evolved after consultation with Hong Kong and Singapore Metros. Methods such as role-playing and computer based training are adopted from these metros, he added.

Munak water only for Commonwealth Games: Haryana

Delhi may finally get its rightful share from Munak canal, but only for the Commonwealth Games. After intervention from the Centre, Haryana has agreed to give Delhi 20 million gallons per day (MGD) water from whatever it will save due to Munak canal project. The state, however, continues to maintain that Delhi has no rightful claim on the Munak savings and should not expect any extra water from Haryana.

According to senior government officials, the change in Haryana’s stance came after the PMO intervened. ‘‘Twenty MGD water will be diverted to the Bawana water treatment plant that is ready for the last six years but is not operating due to lack of water. We will see what can be done in November since we cannot shut down the plant again,’’ said a DJB official.

According to Delhi officials, they have paid Haryana Rs 350 crore for the construction of 102-km Munak canal that would save a huge amount of water for the two states by cutting down on transit loss. Work started in 2003 and the canal in Haryana side is now complete. While Delhi was under the impression that it would get share in saved water, Haryana in August 2009 said it was ‘‘erroneous on the part of Delhi to claim the so-called savings from the construction of the (Munak) canal’’.

‘‘Not a drop out of any savings will be given to Delhi and the state should not waste its resources by constructing any treatment plant on this presumption,’’ said Haryana government.

As per a SC ruling, Haryana is required to supply as much water to Delhi as is needed to maintain the Wazirabad pond level at 674.5 feet. Currently, en route loss is around 30% and it will come down to about 5% once the Munak canal becomes operational. Based on an assumed saving of 80 MGD, Delhi would divert 20 MGD and 40 MGD for the underconstruction Okhla and Dwarka water treatment plants and another 20 MGD for the Bawana plant.

"Even if Haryana claims the Yamuna’s share, it has no claim on 40 MGD of the total 80 MGD water since that comes from Sutlej. We have spent money on the construction and it is quite clear that we should also get benefit from the savings. There is an MoU to this effect and Haryana cannot deprive us of our rightful share,’’ said a Delhi government official.

Cong, BJP workers clash

New Delhi: A verbal duel between workers of two major political parties turned ugly as they fought with each other over water supply in Sangam Vihar area of southeast Delhi. The police said four people were injured in the scuffle.

The incident was reported on Sunday night when some workers of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and Congress clashed with each other over inadequate water supply in the area. Sources said some BJP workers were protesting against water and electricity problems in the area when they reached near a function organized by Congress workers. There was some argument and workers of both parties clashed with each other, said a senior police officer.

Police said they have registered cases under the relevant sections at Sangam Vihar and were investigating the case.

Expo to showcase Delhi’s heritage in September

The multi-layered culture of Delhi, moulded by its melting pot status over the centuries, would be showcased for its residents, with the leading heritage body INTACH planning to put together an exhibition soon.

As the capital gears up to host the Commonwealth Games in October, the exhibition is being planned in September to make people aware of the rich legacy of their city.

“It will be about Delhi, its culture, its rich history and tradition as also its food. We hope to tell people how rich in heritage their capital city is with its layers of history dating back to centuries,” said Mr A.G.K. Menon, Convenor of Delhi Chapter of Indian National Trust for Arts and Culture Heritage (INTACH).

Mr Menon said it is imperative for the people to realise the historic worth of the city they live in and take pride in its rich heritage.

“The heritage of Delhi is not only tangible heritage, but its richness spreads beyond its monuments, in its language, its food, its dress,” he told PTI.

“Though we do not have many artefacts, but definitely we will display models, maps, books, paintings and other items showing the diverse and yet composite culture of this place,” he said.

“While working intensively on Delhi’s heritage for the past few years, we have collected so many useful and interesting things, that we thought it would be good to put them on display for the residents of the city right ahead of the Games,” Mr Menon said .

The exhibition would be held at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, with whom INTACH is partnering for the project.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Keeping Commonwealth Games in mind, Govt to speed up development works at Agra

UP government has directed the government agencies implementing development works in the city of Agra to complete all works by June 30.

Keeping in view of the huge influx of tourists in Agra owing to the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held at Delhi from October 3, chief secretary (UP) Atul Kumar Gupta has given directions that all construction works in Agra and expansion in tourist facilities there should to be completed by June 30.

At an important meeting held in Lucknow on Monday, the chief secretary said that the guests coming from the Commonwealth nations will be visiting world renowned tourist places like Agra and Mathura in large numbers.

Keeping this in mind, he has asked the Agra development authority, Nagar Nigam Agra, Tourism, Forest Department and Public Works Department to work on a war-footing to get the works related to them completed at the earliest.

He also directed that operation of battery-operated cars near the Taj Mahal besides works like putting up impressive sign boards which give information about the direction and place etc should all be completed on time.

It may be mentioned that prior to the Commonwealth Games, the Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 will pass through the state of Uttar Pradesh in two phases wherein it will also have a night stay in Agra during its visit there.

In the first phase, from July 8 to 13, the relay would pass through Bareilly, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Amethi, Allahabad and Varanasi while in the second phase, from September 20 to 22, the relay will cover Lalitpur, Jhansi and Agra before proceeding towards New Delhi. It will reach Agra on September 21 where a cultural function during the night halt has been planned.

On September 22, the relay will be heading towards Jaipur on way to New Delhi.

where are the sponsors...

Toyota, Microsoft, Visa, Omega… these are just a few big brands that formed the sponsorship league of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. The Games caught the attention of not just the international sporting community but corporate entities as well. In all, Melbourne had eight partners and 15 sponsors for the Games, which with a budget of $1.1 billion, was the most expensive Commonwealth Games held till then.

Circa 2010. With an estimated $1.6 billion to be spent on the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG), Delhi might walk away with the tag of being the most expensive CWG ever, but with just six sponsors in its kitty, of which four are public sector entities, the road to recovery of the astronomical amount being spent doesn’t look easy. Leave alone the big international brands, for whom an event like this presents an ideal opportunity to reach out to audiences far and wide at one go, even the domestic ones do not seem too excited about the Games.

This when the 2010 CWG beginning on October 3 is the biggest multi sporting event in India’s history. What further complicates the picture is that while overall sponsorship has been going slow, international companies have already started inking deals with individual teams. A case in point: Adidas is the clothing partner for the England team. So why are brands shying away from the opportunity here? Clearly, there is more to it than what meets the eye.

Among those who have hopped on to the Games till now is the Indian Railways which as the lead partner brings in the highest sponsorship sum of Rs 100 crore. Air India, as the official carrier, and NTPC, as the official power partner, has paid Rs 50 crore each. Central Bank of India won the official banking partner title for Rs 51 crore. While Hero Honda paid Rs 38 crore for the partner tag, Coca-Cola India won the official beverage partner title for Rs 15.8 lakh. Together, the six sponsors have brought in Rs 300 crore only.

The Organizing Committee (OC) of the Delhi CWG, headed by Congress Party politician and Indian Olympic Association chairman Suresh Kalmadi, which is responsible for the planning, management and execution of the Games, had initially asked for Rs 767 crore for the Games from the government. This was increased to Rs 1,620 crore late last year. The money has been provided as a loan to the committee. Kalmadi, at a press conference last month, claimed that the OC will be able to recover all the money and there will be no burden on the government.

According to OC secretary general Lalit Bhanot, the principal sources of revenue for the government are sponsorships, sale of telecast rights, ticketing and merchandise. As per government estimates, the biggest source of revenue will be sponsorships at Rs 960 crore. There are four categories of sponsors which include two lead partners, 10 partners, 12 sponsors and a number of co-sponsors. With only about Rs 300 crore in, it is not going to be easy for CWG to secure a major chunk of its annual budgets.

An obstacle course

Advertisers are certainly not too enthused with the Games. “Right now they are too occupied with the Indian Premier League (IPL). It’s not on the top of their minds. And going ahead, there are other sporting events like the T20 World Cup, FIFA World Cup, etc., which are likely to be on the marketers’ radar,” says Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Dentsu India.

What also is killing advertiser interest is the negative coverage of the event, prominent among them being the delay in readying the venues. Companies would not want to risk their brand image in such a situation. But the OC argues that this is not an issue. “A lot of stadiums have already been completed and others will meet the April 30 deadline. I don’t see any cause to worry. All the events which were planned till now have been held,” says Bhanot.

As of now, there is little clarity on what a company will get if it signs a sponsorship deal. “Unlike IPL where I know down to the last detail how I can utilize the property, there is very little clarity on it,” says the official of a company which is among the major sponsors of IPL. He did not want to be identified.

Advertisers are also concerned over the popularity of sports other than cricket. Even though India has been performing well at the Commonwealth Games and therefore audience interest is likely, the advertisers are adopting a wait-and-watch policy. “We have to look whether an on-ground sponsorship gives a better return on investment or an on-air sponsorship,” says Sanjeev Tripathy, director-marketing, HDFC Standard Life Insurance. All CWG events will be aired by public broadcaster Doordarshan in India and depending on the performance of the India.

team, money might be spent on commercials during the matches. Even the on-air promotion part is tricky, as some companies have apprehensions about the quality of telecast.

The Commonwealth Games is not the Olympics and therefore not all brands are likely to be as aggressive. “It’ll largely be brands which are headquartered in the UK,” says Goyal. He further adds that since the event is in Delhi, and there’s very little or no activity in other states, the response from other regions is also debatable. The OC, though, is confident of getting more sponsors on board by the time the Games actually start. “Even if you look at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, most of the deals came in the last six months. We have a number of proposals and we’ll be signing the deals soon,” says Bhanot. A deal with sportswear maker Reebok among others is in the pipeline, he adds.

The sponsorship tangle

The current controversy around OC-appointed Sports Marketing and Management (SMAM) which is negotiating all sponsorship deals is adding to the confusion, leaving advertisers wary. The Singapore registered SMAM is “the sole and exclusive negotiator and procurer of sponsorship and licensing contracts and as its exclusive supplier of sponsorship management and licensing services” as per the agreement between OC and SMAM.

As laid out in the contract, SMAM gets a commission of 15%-22.5% on all sponsorship deals.According to a report published by The Indian Express, an internal note prepared by a top revenue official of the OC points out that the agency has achieved, “practically nil” results. The note further questions the rationale for giving SMAM a commission in deals with government owned bodies.

“Even the private deals have been done by the OC and not SMAM,” says an official associated with the Commonwealth Games, on condition of anonymity.

The OC, however, says it is satisfied with the work done by SMAM and they have brought in a lot of sponsors with whom discussions are on currently. When asked about who brought in the public sector units, Bhanot says, “the government sponsors are directly from the government. I don't think SMAM is involved”. He further adds that they will be meeting the SMAM official later this month to talk about a host of issues including compensation.

All calls/emails to Michael Bushell, group director, SMAM, from this paper remained unanswered. The company does not have a website. This is rather intriguing considering its core business is marketing. Part of the reason why too many sponsors have not come on-board certainly rests here.

Beacon of hope

The six sponsors who have signed on are, however, sure of getting their money's worth. For Coca-Cola India, which has paid Rs 15.8 lakh, the sponsorship entitles them to exclusive marketing and supply rights for all its beverages at all the competition and non-competition venues. The company today has a wide range of products including health and energy drinks and therefore sees synergies between the games and the company. “Coca-Cola has always believed in promoting a healthy, active lifestyle through sports. Our association with the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup and now with Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, reaffirms this same commitment,” says the spokesperson from Coca-Cola India.

Hero Honda which has been associated with various sports events apart from cricket, the latest being the World Cup Hockey, sees synergy between what Hero Honda stands for and the games. The motorcycle maker, which is the presenting sponsor for the Queens Baton Relay, is planning to do massive ground-level activation in about 60 cities, involving customers, channel partners, local community leaders, and brand ambassadors in the baton relay as it traverses almost 20,000 km through more than 100 cities in India.

“The association with CWG 2010 is an attempt to promote the sporting culture in India and also to be associated with the largest sporting event in the world after the Olympics,” said the Hero Honda spokesperson.

The government and the OC will be hoping that more corporate entities follow Hero Honda and Coca-Cola into the Games. Otherwise, in a few months from now, we could be seeing more public sector entities and government backed bodies being cajoled to pitch in, in the name of public interest.

Now, Gurgaon cops will mind their language with public

Common words or phrases like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ have for so long been left out of a policeman’s lexicon that most people do not expect to hear these from the police, even during innocent conversations.

This is set to change in the Millennium City.

With the Commonwealth Games approaching and the police department keen on changing the way its officials interact with public, the Gurgaon police have decided to hold lessons on ‘good conduct with the public’ for its personnel.

In the coming months, as many as 3,000 police personnel — from station house officers to constables — will undergo the three-day training programme on communication and behavioural skills.

“Most complaints we receive against the police personnel are about misconduct and not about their malafide intensions,” Gurgaon Police Commissioner S S Deswal said.

Noting that it is necessary to eliminate the “fear” that the public holds against policeman Deswal said: “It is important that they (policemen) be taught to keep control on their ‘mannerism’ while dealing with the public at large and observe proper etiquette.”

Officials said professionals will be engaged for the programme.

“We have carried out such short courses in the past for our personnel and seen improvement. As a government department we need to schedule our expenditure. We are working the modalities out,” Deswal said.

With a shooting event, of the Commonwealth Games, scheduled to be held at the CRPF campus in Kadarpur, the department is also expecting an influx of foreign visitors at the time of the Games.

“Constables are learning English so that they do not face difficulty while communicating with visitors,” the police chief added.

The district police have also started regular security drills along the Sohna Road (Kadarpur). Deswal said proper security arrangements will be ensured for visitors coming to Gurgaon to participate in the Games.

The Gurgaon police have also demanded more manpower and the Director General of Haryana Police, Ranjeev Dalal, has assured to provide about 800 more constables to Gurgaon before the Games.

According to Deswal, once there was additional manpower, the police would focus on improving the traffic management, especially at important intersections of old Gurgaon.

Championing Commonwealth Games investment

SNP Depute Leader and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today (Monday) joined SNP Glasgow East candidate John Mason to outline the SNP's commitment to investment in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and ensuring a lasting legacy for the East End and for Scotland.

In the SNP's Westminster manifesto, the SNP also pledges to lead cross party calls for the return of £150 million of lottery cash diverted to the London Olympics to ensure substantial and sustained investment in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The Scottish Government is funding 80% of the games and supporting Scotland’s champions as they prepare for the Games, to build a strong sporting and cultural legacy for the community and the country.

Commenting, Ms Sturgeon:

"Just as our athletes are working hard to be Scotland's champions at the Commonwealth games, so SNP candidates across the country are campaigning to become local and national champions for Scotland's communities.

“In the next parliament, SNP MPs will lead efforts to inspire a new generation of Scottish champions. Meanwhile the Scottish Government is funding 80% of the Commonwealth Games and related construction which - alongside infrastructure improvements and new housing for athletes - is providing much needed employment in Glasgow through this recession.

“With local champions like SNP candidate, John Mason, supporting investment, and national champions like medal hopeful, Robbie Renwick, providing real medal hopes for Scotland, Scotland has a winning combination for a true sporting future.”

SNP Candidate for Glasgow East, John Mason added:

"The Commonwealth Games is a great opportunity for Scotland not just in 2014 but to build an amazing legacy for Glasgow East and for Scotland. That's why the SNP is committed to ensuring Scotland can benefit from £150 million of lottery money that could turn a good legacy into a great legacy."

Sturgeon steps up lottery cash call for 2014 Commonwealth Games

DEPUTY First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out the Scottish Government's commitment to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

She was on the election campaign trail in the Glasgow East constituency along with Nationalist candidate John Mason.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government is funding 80% of the Commonwealth games and stepped up calls for the return of £150 million of lottery cash which has been diverted to the 2012 London Olympics.

Miss Sturgeon said: "Just as our athletes are working hard to be Scotland's champions at the Commonwealth games, so SNP candidates across the country are campaigning to become local and national champions for Scotland's communities.

"In the next parliament, SNP MPs will lead efforts to inspire a new generation of Scottish champions.

"Meanwhile the Scottish Government is funding 80% of the Commonwealth Games and related construction, which - alongside infrastructure improvements and new housing for athletes - is providing much-needed employment in Glasgow through this recession."

The SNP caused a major political shock when they captured the Glasgow East seat from Labour in summer 2008, overturning a Labour majority of 13,500.

But Labour are confident they will recapture the seat, with MSP and former Holyrood minister Margaret Curran, who lost to Mr Mason two years ago, contesting the seat.

Mr Mason said: "The Commonwealth Games is a great opportunity for Scotland, not just in 2014 but to build an amazing legacy for Glasgow East and for Scotland.

"That's why the SNP is committed to ensuring Scotland can benefit from £150 million of lottery money that could turn a good legacy into a great legacy."

BBC acquires UK broadcast rights for 2010 Commonwealth Games

The BBC has acquired the broadcast rights for the XIX Commonwealth Games to be held between 3-14 October in New Delhi.

It has signed an agreement with the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee for telecasting the 2010 Games live and exclusively for its UK audiences. The BBC will cover the event on the TV, radio, online, iPlayer, mobile and new media outlets across the UK. BBC Sport Head of Major Events Dave Gordon said the corporation had a rich history of covering the Commonwealth Games and that they are looking forward to bringing the best of the action to the UK public.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

For the historic ruins of Old City, Games to bring no lease of life

Commonwealth Games provided an excellent opportunity to refurbish the Old City, but MCD has admitted defeat

Eight years of planning, an estimated interim budget of Rs 12 crore and nil expenditure — the ambitious plan of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to restore the lost glory of the Old City has failed to make any headway yet.

While the state is rushing to spruce up most parts of the Capital in time for the Games, MCD officials admit that most of the Old Delhi redevelopment projects are at a “standstill”. Barring road upgrade and streetscaping at S P Mukherjee Marg, Subhash Marg and Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, not much will be done in the Old City before the Games.

The Corporation, claim MCD city zone officials, is being “realistic”. “Redeveloping the Old City is a huge task and we do not want to start anything we will not be able to finish in time,” said Krishan Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, city zone. This was echoed by Municipal Commissioner K S Mehra, who is also the chairperson of the MCD Heritage Society, formed for conserving Old Delhi. Once the Games are over, MCD will “rethink” the proposed projects.

For now, the shopkeepers at SP Mukherjee Marg and Azad Hind market near the Red Fort have been given a new design “based on the lines of Janpath market”. The MCD has asked them to align their shops in accordance with it but they will have to be bear the costs.

The Projects

The MCD has made countless proposals for the redevelopment of the Walled City. Some of the most ambitious are:

* Traffic decongestion plan: In 2004, then transport minister Harun Yusuf’s decongestion plan was to reduce traffic in the most congested areas by introducing the “park-and ride” concept. But the proposed parking lots at Parade Ground and near Ramlila Maidan are yet to take off. Last year, the MCD proposed widening and streetscaping for the stretch between Fatehpuri Masjid and Red Fort, where eco-friendly trams were to be introduced.

* Conservation of havelis: While the Masterplan 2021 has identified the area as a ‘conservation zone’, hardly any effort has been made till date. The MCD Heritage Society had picked 775 heritage havelis from the INTACH list. These were notified by the state this year. Currently though, most structures like the haveli of Zeenat Mahal in Lal Kuan and Khazanchi ki haveli near Dariba Kalan have been abandoned by their owners and have been encroached upon.

* Shifting out wholesale markets: A High Court order and the requirements of the Masterplan 2021 stressed on the need for this, but the civic agencies have taken little action. The Walled City houses some of Asia’s largest wholesale markets like the chemical market at Lal Kuan, steel and transport market at Hauz Kazi, foodgrain market at Naya Bazaar and a spice market at Tilak Bazar.

* Jama Masjid redevelopment: Proposed in 2004, the plan got the DUAC approval last year. The civic body’s Rs 1,200-crore plan aims to redevelop and beautify the area around the mosque. The Meena Bazar too is to be redeveloped with 650 air-conditioned shops. For now, only “the garden will be made green and new signage will be installed,” officials said.

What ails the Old City?

The problems, say MCD officials, are many — the two most important ones being the lack of funds and multiplicity of authorities. They also say they have come to realise that it was “wrong” on their part to “float ambitious projects without confirming funding.” Besides, with agencies like the Delhi Development Authority and the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation involved, there is often an overlap. Sources in the MCD further say as many as 90 project files on development are “untraceable”.

And while the Old City continues disintegrating beneath encroaching shanties, cobwebs of wires and piles of rubbish, residents can only hope for a “more sustainable” development project once the Games are over.

Projects that failed to take shape

* Removal of overhead cables, creation of underground service utility ducts

* Widening roads, developing pavements and sidewalks and removal of encroachment

* Information kiosks, public toilets, signages, parking, revitalisation of residential areas

* Restoration of Kashmere Gate

* Refurbishing of road between Delhi Gate and Daryaganj, heritage corridor from Coronation Park to Qutub Minar which was to include heritage sites like Khooni Darwaza and Delhi Gate.

CWG work snaps DU's web, phone lines

The construction work for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games is going on in full swing in Delhi University. But the colleges are not amused. Thanks to dug up roads in the North Campus, many colleges have been facing disruption in the internet, water and telephone services for a couple of months.

DU teachers and students claim the work has been paced up but there hasn’t been any coordination between different agencies involved in the work.

At Hindu College, there has been no access to the internet for the past one and a half months. Principal Vinay Kumar Srivastava said, ‘‘We have written to the university several times regarding the unavailability of the internet in the college. But there is a problem as some cables have been destroyed in the digging happening right across the college.’’ He added, ‘‘We have recently acquired cordless modems. So we are depending on them as of now. We expect the internet may be restored within a week.’’

The construction work has affected life at Ramjas College too. Besides disruption in internet and phone lines, the staff quarters didn’t have any water supply recently. Rajendra Prasad, principal, Ramjas College, said, ‘‘The internet and phone lines have been affected badly in the last two months. In fact, a few days ago, the water supply lines of our staff quarters was cut due to the digging.’’ He added, ‘‘We had to get our own labour and get the lines repaired. None of the agencies working on construction fix it.’’

Prasad said though students are now taking their exams, disrupted internet services was still a problem for carrying out day-to-day work. The roads have been dug up on the sides all across the campus for streetscaping and widening of pavements. At some colleges like Ramjas, Daulat Ram, Shri Ram College of Commerce, the CWG work is going on even on the premises for preparing the training venue for Rugby.
Ira Pandit, who teaches in Daulat Ram College, also said some phone lines in her college and staff quarters remained dead recently. She said, ‘‘Some phones in our college and residence became dead twice. Even the water supply was affected. There have been minor problems on and off.’’

According to a teacher on the campus, the phone lines go dead for a few minutes several times during the day. ‘‘The problem is perhaps that the authorities are hastening work now. It seems there is no time to coordinate. So they dig up anywhere without checking if there are any wires underneath,’’ the teacher said. ‘‘However, it’s the part and parcel of all the developmental work going on here. We will have to be a little patient,’’ he added.

DTH players gear up to join high-definition bandwagon

With the government promising to telecast the Commonwealth Games in high-definition (HD) format, Direct-to-Home (DTH) service providers like Dish TV, Reliance BIG and Airtel Digital are now gearing up to join the bandwagon over the next couple of months.

High-definition television (HDTV) refers to videos with higher resolution than traditional TV, resulting in sharper pictures and richer colours. Though the market for HD services is restricted to niche segments at present (with Sun Direct being the only operator in the sector), industry experts are seeing increasing potential for such services in the coming year.

Dish TV plans to introduce HD services in June this year, while Reliance is evaluating market conditions to launch the service in a couple of weeks. Bharti Airtel executives inform work has reached an advanced stage in upgrading the infrastructure for HD services.
An Airtel spokesperson said: “We initially launched our service in standard definition but we will soon make our content available on the HD platform. We believe the Commonwealth Games will trigger the HD revolution in India, just as the Asian Games drove in the colour TV revolution in 1982. We expect HD technology to lead the DTH industry growth story in the country.”

Salil Kapoor, chief operating officer, Dish TV, concurs: “HD services are particularly preferred for sports and movie content. With this year being choc-a-bloc with sporting events, such as the IPL, T20 World Cup, FIFA World Cup and CWG, we hope to see an increasing number of subscribers tuning into the HD segment.”

Reliance, for instance, expects 10-15 per cent of the 1.5 million subscribers it hopes to add this year in the HD segment. In order to hook consumers into the segment, Reliance is coming out with an in-built Digital Video Recorder (DVR) with its HD set-top boxes.

Umesh Rao, chief marketing officer, Reliance BIG TV, while declining to specify the pricing point for the product, said: “What is unique about our HD set-top box is that it will enable the subscriber to receive HD feed and record content from a single set-top box. The pricing will not be off the line with what other players are currently offering.”

Gill inaugurates wrestling stadium

The wrestling stadium at the Indira Gandhi Sports complex was inaugurated by Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports M.S. Gill here Sunday.

The new stadium, the venue for the Commonwealth Games, has a capacity of 6,932 people and a built-up area of 22,350 square metre.

Gill called the venue one of the best for wrestling in the country.

“It is a world-class venue and one of the best wrestling centres in the country. Everyone has worked hard and ensured that the stadium has the best of modern facilities,” said Gill.

“With the other stadiums also nearing completion, we are confident of delivering the best games ever. Now it it is the turn of wrestlers to perform and win medals for the country.”

Gill said the sports ministry, along with Indian Olympics Association, will hold national-level school competitions regularly in these stadiums after the Games.

MCD signs MoU with NGO to clean Delhi before CWGs

In the view of upcoming Commonwealth Games, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi(MCD) has signed an MoU of cleanliness with an NGO on the assurance that it will maintain the tidiness in the Capital with only 10 per cent of the total workforce in the capital. The task has been given to ''Nyaya Bhoomi'', an NGO run by Col B B Sharan, who has signed the MoU with MCD Commissioner K S Mehra.

Talking to presspersons yesterday, he said, ''The NGO will, with the help of 600 government karamcharies, maintain the cleanliness of the city and soon make it the sparkling Capital at par with the other International cities.'' ''I asked Mr Mehra to give me only 10 per cent of the existing workforce, which is 600 out of existing six thousand safai karamcharies in the capital, on trial basis and I will ensure that each one works and keeps the city clean,'' he said.

''There are 272 wards in the capital and about six thousand workers are appointed to clean the roads but we hardly see any worker doing the job,'' Col Sharan said. ''We see filth lying all over the roads and drains are full of clogging water. All we want is volunteers from public to get the work done from these Karamcharies,'' he said. The resident welfare associations could come forward to take up the job. The public should come forward on its own to support the cause.

Our organisation is committed to get the work done from the babus who are getting salary from the public exchequer but are not delivering. He requested the public to come forward and support the movement.

Delhi Police finalises 'crises management plan' for CWG

The Delhi Police has made each major games venue the responsibility of a senior official to ensure quick response to any threat or contingency that may arise during the Commonwealth Games.

The officials have been empowered to take immediate action including force deployment and seeking support from other security agencies without going through normal bureaucratic channels.

This 'crisis management plan' has been finalised in consultation with paramilitary forces like the National Security Guard and the Central Reserve Police Force and local bodes like the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the New Delhi Municipal Council and the Delhi Fire Service.

"Each games venue will be supervised by a deputy commissioner of police, additional commissioner of police or joint commissioner of police. They will be responsible for guarding it and deploying resources in case of any contingency," a senior police official said.

"Each games venue will have sufficient number of police personnel, a bomb squad, fire tender, electronic surveillance and other security arrangements. Besides this, elaborative security measures have been planned for other places to be visited by athletes and spectators," he said.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled to be held in Delhi between October 3-14.

Delhi Police finalises 'crises management plan' for CWG

The Delhi Police has made each major games venue the responsibility of a senior official to ensure quick response to any threat or contingency that may arise during the Commonwealth Games.

The officials have been empowered to take immediate action including force deployment and seeking support from other security agencies without going through normal bureaucratic channels.

This 'crisis management plan' has been finalised in consultation with paramilitary forces like the National Security Guard and the Central Reserve Police Force and local bodes like the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the New Delhi Municipal Council and the Delhi Fire Service.

"Each games venue will be supervised by a deputy commissioner of police, additional commissioner of police or joint commissioner of police. They will be responsible for guarding it and deploying resources in case of any contingency," a senior police official said.

"Each games venue will have sufficient number of police personnel, a bomb squad, fire tender, electronic surveillance and other security arrangements. Besides this, elaborative security measures have been planned for other places to be visited by athletes and spectators," he said.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled to be held in Delhi between October 3-14.

No compensation yet for displaced Tamils

It's the poor in Delhi who are bearing the brunt of the Commonwealth Games' preparations.

At a time when chief minister Sheila Dikshit announced compensation for those affected by the development work, 368 families of Dalit Tamils are running from pillar to post seeking shelter.

Their slum cluster at Jangpura's Barapullah Nallah was bulldozed on April 15 as a parking lot had to be constructed for the Games. The Tamils had been living there for the past 35 years.

Last Sunday, Dikshit, at a function near the Azadpur flyover, had said: "People whose houses or shops were demolished to facilitate the Commonwealth Games project will be compensated soon. I have asked (Public Works Department minister Raj Kumar) Chauhan to direct the Delhi Development Authority to distribute the compensation amount within a week."

CM's announcement but no help or money has reached the Tamils.

They currently sleep under the open sky, with the women cradling wailing babies, trying to save them from the heat and the mosquitoes, while the men keep watch lest their belongings are stolen.

Murugan, a 27-year-old who cleans cars in the nearby posh Jangpura colony, said: "They (government officials) told us a high voltage electricity wire had to be laid. We were asked to move out of our homes." The displaced Tamils tried approaching Dikshit. But nothing was said to them about compensation.

"Her son, Sandeep, assured us that water and food would be supplied to us in the tents. He did not utter a word about compensation," Munny Amma, who works as a maid, said.

Instead, the Dalit Tamils were told that 36-of the total 368-displaced families would be relocated to the Savda Ghevra resettlement colony in north-west Delhi.

The heat has already started taking a toll on the homeless.

One person fainted on Tuesday and had to be admitted to an ICU. A 16-year-old, Shiv Shankar, was another victim.

"Shiv Shankar used to study in a government school. He was already in trauma because of personal problems. The final blow came when his house got razed and he became mentally ill. He has been taken to Chennai for treatment," his neighbour Rajamma said.

Lok Sabha MPs P. Lingam and Gurudas Das Gupta had reportedly visited the displaced and promised to alleviate their suffering. But nothing has been done yet.

Savitri Devi, 42, said the families' ration and voter ID cards had been taken away by the government officials.

"We are not able to purchase kerosene oil. Just look at the way they talk when they need votes. Now we are nothing for them," she said.

Ameque Jamei, leader of the All India Youth Federation which is spearheading the campaign for the homeless, said the city slums were a cause of embarrassment for the Delhi government.

" The government is ashamed of the slums. Therefore, it has displaced hundreds of people and not even given them an alternate place to live. The Dalit Tamils' slum cluster was visible from the flyover which will connect the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium to the Lodhi Road," he said.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Activists hit the road to save stray dogs

Animal activists, theatre personalities, singers and students came together under the banner of Coordination Committee in Defence of Animals (CCDA) on Saturday to protest against the alleged killing of street dogs and other strays ahead of the Commonwealth Games.“It is time Delhi formed an animal army to protest the clandestine murders of voiceless animals,” animal rights activist Ambika Shukla said. The protesters had gathered at the Jantar Mantar for the rally called United for Animals.“Suddenly, Delhi’s dogs are missing in large numbers. Police should act against people who harass or abuse those feeding and taking care of stray animals,” CCDA co-convenor Hiranmay Karlekar said.

The protesters also criticised the Municipal Corporation of Delhi for “cleansing the Capital of stray dogs”. “The civic body’s action violates the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001, which says stray dogs can be taken for sterilisation and vaccination against rabies but need to be returned to the locality from where they were taken,” Anjali Sharma, a lawyer with the Animal Welfare Board of India, said.

Rallyists alleged that against the Delhi High Court verdict that upheld the right of the citizens to feed stray animals, dog lovers are stopped by the security guards from feeding the animal. “Fraudulent complaints are made when dogs are vaccinated and sterilised,” Sukjinder Kaur of Prasar Bharti said.

The protesters demanded civic action against the “policy to make urban spaces animal-free zones”. “Don’t cleanse Delhi’s streets with canine blood,” a young group of dog lovers from Jawaharlal Nehru University said.

MCD facelift for markets near rly station, Red Fort

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has decided to give facelift to Amrit Kaur market opposite the New Delhi railway station ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Officials said the market’s new look will be on the lines of Janpath. The civic body also plans to upgrade Azaad Hind market near Red Fort along similar lines.

In a bid to make shopkeepers in the two markets an equal party in the redevelopment project, the MCD has asked them to implement the redevelopment work on their own, and at their own expense. “We have developed a design for the two markets based on the Janpath model, and it has already been given to the shopkeepers for implementation,” Deputy Commissioner (MCD city zone) Krishan Kumar said.

Kumar said owners will have to align their shops with the design provided and MCD will monitor the work and ensure it is implemented on time.

While Azaad Hind market mainly houses small travel and transport agencies, the Amrit Kaur market is lined with dhabas and small, mostly unlicenced, guesthouses. The MCD is also mulling on issuing ‘temporary’, or ad hoc, licences to these guesthouses, though only till the Games.

Queen's Baton to arrive in India on June 25

The Commonwealth Games' Queen's Baton Relay (QBR) will arrive in India from Pakistan through the Attari border on June 25, just 100 days before the October 3-14 mega-event to be held in Delhi.

CWG Media Committee chairman and MP Tarlochan Singh said that after arriving in India, the QBR would pass through the main cities of Punjab before reaching Himachal Pradesh on June 28.

On the occasion, cultural programmes would be organised at the international border which would be attended by the prominent personalities from Pakistan and India.

The QBR, which is similar to the Olympic Torch Relay, began on October 29 last year at London's Buckingham Palace. It travels through a 190,000 kilometer route touching 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth.

Guernsey hosts debut Commonwealth Games meeting

Guernsey's Commonwealth Games Association is hosting a meeting with 10 European member nations, including Cyprus, Gibraltar and Malta.

It is the first time the meeting has been held in Guernsey and representatives from the UK, Jersey and Isle of Man will also attend.

The 40th anniversary of Guernsey first competing in the games in Edinburgh in 1970 will also be marked.

Frank Allen, who carried the first flag, is returning for the celebration.

He said carrying the island's flag at the opening ceremony 40 years ago remains the proudest moment of his life.

Every athlete who has represented Guernsey at the Commonwealth Games has been invited to attend a party, which will be attended by the association's patron, Bailiff of Guernsey Sir Geoffrey Rowland.

Varanasi tourism hopes to capitalise on Delhi Commonwealth Games

Tourism and hospitality sectors in Varanasi are hoping to capitalise October 2010 Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi.

Tourists and devotees throng the holy city, every year to enjoy its pilgrimage spots and historical monuments.

Laudera Nader, a travel agent, said advance bookings all in and he hopes to generate good business during the Games.

"The Commonwealth Games is starting from October 13, So we are expecting an increase. In fact, from now only, we have started receiving bookings for the best beds to best cars, because obviously when the clients come to Delhi to watch the Commonwealth Games, they will visit Varanasi because it's a part of the heritage city. They will visit Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur and Delhi, So, we are expecting an increase," said Nader.

Jayant Pathak, Operations Manager with the city's Siddarth Hotel, said an increase of 20 to 30 percent over normal bookings could be expected.

SA hockey teams doubtful for CWG 2010

Happy to qualify for the Delhi Commonwealth Games, men's and women's hockey teams of South Africa still have a number of hurdles to overcome before they can participate in the October 3-14 mega-event.

South African Hockey Association has received confirmation from the South African Sports Confederation and Olympics Committee that both the teams have been registered for Games, ending months of speculation on whether hockey would have the country's representation in the event.

But according to SAHA chief executive Marissa Langeni, that is all they know at this stage amid concerns about lack of coaches, training camps and funds.

Besides, both men's and women's teams have been without fulltime coaches for sometime now.

A meeting between SAHA and SASCOC on May 7 was expected to provide some clarity on these issues.

Because hockey is not recognised as a professional sport in South Africa, most players in the national sides have fulltime jobs or are students. Some of them have already indicated that they may not be available to go to India in October.

CWG a 'circus' but could have curbed Naxalism in Jharkhand: Aiyar

Terming the upcoming Commonwealth Games a 'circus', former Union Minister for sports Mani Shankar Aiyar today said the Games, nevertheless, could have been organised in regions like Jharkhand and curbed the growth of Naxalism there.

He was interacting with mediapersons on the sidelines of a seminar on 'Communal Harmony and Indian National Congress' organised by Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) as a part of the celebration of 125th anniversary of the Congress.

Quizzed whether spending a huge amount on an 11-day event was justified in a city where many people did not have a roof, he said, ''The Games are a circus and crores of rupees are being carelessly spent on them. It is against Gandhian teachings, principles and sentiments,'' he added.

'' Delhi is one of the most prosperous regions in India. It would have been better if the Games had been organised in backward regions like Jharkhand,'' Mr Aiyar said.

He also said, ''The huge investment in the infrastructure in such states could trigger development and curb Naxalism.'' The leader has been vocal about his views regarding the Games. As the country's Union Minsiter for Sports in 2007, he had said, ''Whether you organise the Commonwealth Games in Delhi or in Melbourne, the state of people living in the colonies right opposite the Games site will remain the same.'' Asked to comment on Mr Aiyar's statement, DPCC president Jai Prakash Agarwal diplomatically said, '' The views were personal and I had nothing to say on the issue.''

Uttar Pradesh cops collect Rs.92,000 for Commonwealth shooter

A budding Uttar Pradesh shooter struggling to buy a pistol to take part in the qualifying round of the Commonwealth Games has got a helping hand from Baghpat district police who have presented him Rs.92,000 collected as donations.

Farooq Ali, 20, a truck driver's son from Angadpur village in Baghpat, some 350 km from Lucknow, now feels he will be able to chase his dream of winning medals in shooting competitions at the national and international levels.

"Now I will not have to hire guns from others... I will have one of my own soon. I will really remain indebted to the policemen who raised money to help me," Ali told IANS on telephone from Baghpat.

"I am really happy because I will be able to participate in the qualifying round of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi," he added.

Ali, who comes from a poor family, has won over 50 medals in national and international tournaments. He won silver medals in 2009 at the Asian Air Gun Championship, Doha, and the Hungary Open Championship.

"I wrote to the authorities, government officials, public representatives, seeking financial assistance but to no avail," said Ali.

However, through some local journalists, Baghpat Superintendent of Police Deepak Kumar came to know about Ali's problems and decided to help him.

"After talking to my colleagues, it was decided the district police would contribute funds for the budding shooter. We will also rope in some local businessmen and industrialists," Kumar told IANS over telephone.

"We received a good response from businessmen and industrialists who helped us generate Rs.92,000. The money was presented to Ali only two days ago," he added.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Connaught Place (CP)’s unloved zone

Its curved passage is empty. The stone floor uneven. The wall disfigured. The plaster is chipping off. This short passage connects the Outer Circle corridor to the Middle Lane of M-block in Connaught Place (CP), Delhi’s colonial-era shopping district, that is being given a major facelift in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games.

Most showrooms and restaurants in CP line its Inner Circle. Since the opening of the Rajiv Chowk Metro Station at Central Park in 2006, newer cafes, fast food outlets and an increase in footfall has brightened the otherwise dull Outer Circle too. It’s the Middle Circle that remains drab. Drabber still is the Middle Lane that links the Outer Circle to the Middle. The stylish crowd is rarely spotted here, despite its proximity to watering holes such as Q’ba, @live and Blues.

No change yet
“I’m running this shop here since 1978,” says Anup Kumar of Rameshwar Das, a stationary store that is one of the only two shops in the passageway. “While Inner Circle has undergone a makeover and Outer Circle is being renovated, the Middle Lane hasn’t changed at all.” Outside, the wall’s whitewashed layer has peeled off exposing large patches of blue. Office goers, salesmen, young couples and shoppers walking in the Outer Circle corridor rarely throw a peek into this gallery. Its other end opens into the Middle Lane. On the right are five auto spare parts shops. Upstairs is something rarer — private residences.

Sanjeev Gupta has been living in his second floor apartment for 47 years. His terrace has a lovely view of the Outer Circle Road and of high-rises such as Statesman Tower and Gopaldas Building. “Outer and Inner Circles are being redone. The Middle Circle may be the next,” Gupta says, hopefully.

In the future
However, Anand Tiwari of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the agency renovating the area, says, “Our focus are Inner and Outer Circles. In the Middle Lane, we are setting up tunnels with service ducting for electric wires and cables, water and sewage.” So, while CP’s Georgian architecture is again looking new, its Middle Circle will remain as it always has.

Not everyone minds this status quo. Painter Karim Khan, who feels “the presence of a sea beach whenever he is in Connaught Place”, says, “I will always prefer the Middle Lane over the Inner and Outer circles. For me, a beautiful woman who is dead is nothing compared to an ugly woman who is alive.”

Hotels 'drywall' to speed up projects

Opening The Leela Palace Kempinski at Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, in time before the 2010 Commonwealth Games in October is a big challenge for C P Krishnan Nair.

Though the hotel structure looks far from seeing an autumn 2010 launch, the chairman of Hotel Leelaventure Ltd is going all out for it - even if it means delaying his luxury hotel project in Chennai by almost a year.

Nair is banking on the ‘drywall construction’ (DWC) technology to speed up the development.

“Worldwide, all the top-of-the-line luxury hotels use it,” said Vivek Nair, vice-chairman and managing director, Hotel Leelaventure.
He is convinced that using DWC will ensure the New Delhi hotel opens its gates in July 2010.

“With civil works done and interior embellishment well on its way towards completion, we are confident of welcoming guests by the end of July this year,” Nair said.

The Leela Group seems to have drawn inspiration from the UK-based largest budget hotel company Whitbread Plc for using DWC technology.

According to Aly Shariff, managing director of Whitbread’s Indian subsidiary christened Premier Inn India Pvt Ltd, their Bangalore hotel is the first such project in India to use full drywall construction concept.

“The hotel was completed in a record time of 9 months,” he said.
Hemant Khurana, vice president - sales and marketing for Saint-Gobain Gyproc India Ltd, said, “Drywall is a different type of construction that uses plasterboards and framing systems to create the desired interiors. A combination of different types of plasterboards is used taking into account factors such as fire resistance, acoustics, height of the wall, etc, to do a drywall construction.”

In India, Saint-Gobain Gyproc and Lafarge Boral Gypsum India Pvt Ltd (LaGyp) are among the largest suppliers and service providers of an end-to-end DWC technology. In terms of usage, the DWC technology is largely used for commercial developments, office space, education institutions, hospitals etc in India.

“DWC reduces the overall construction time by at least a year. In the hospitality sector particularly, the hotelier is able to book revenues for that advanced launch period thereby reducing his breakeven time and increasing the profitability in the long run,” said Sanjeev Kumar Jain, projects director - India, Premier Inn India.

Speed of construction certainly is the primary advantage of using the DWC technology for most of the hoteliers. It is 3-4 times faster than the masonry style though not very competitive in terms of cost vis-à-vis the traditional brick and mortar approach. “The cost per square foot for a DWC tends to be 20-25% higher,” Khurana said.

Vikas Oberoi, managing director, Oberoi Realty Ltd (currently raising around Rs 1,500 crore through a public issue), however, has a contradictory view on the costing per square feet using the DWC technology.

“Our experience with this technology has been very cost-effective as compared the regular brick wall construction. The cost of construction using DWC for us has been Rs 105/sq ft as compared to Rs 140/sq ft for a brick wall,” Oberoi said.

Oberoi Realty’s The Westin Mumbai Garden City is the second hotel project in India to use the DWC technology.

Among a few others following suit include Marriott International’s Hyderabad hotel under the Courtyard by Marriott brand and InterContinental Hotel Group’s The Crowne Plaza hotel in Kochi.

Markets to shut for Commonwealth Games

Delhi Police wants all major Delhi markets to be closed on the opening and closing days of the Commonwealth Games 2010. The opening ceremony of the 11-day sporting extravaganza will be held on October 3 and the closing ceremony will be held on October 14, both at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

The list of markets which the cops want shut on those two days include Khan Market, Chandni Chowk, Sarojini Nagar, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Karol Bagh, Lajpat Nagar, Rajouri Garden, and others which are popular with foreign nationals.

The move comes days after the US, UK and Australia issued advisories warning their citizens about possible terror attacks in the capital in areas frequented by foreigners.

The Delhi Police advisory was sent to various market associations, with the cops asking shop owners to help manage the mega event. Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said, ‘‘We have asked the market associations for their support as that will help Delhi Police manage the Games and manpower can then be utilized in other places.”

Another senior officer of Delhi Police said the closure of the markets will reduce the burden of law and order on Delhi Police. There will be less traffic and we will be able to focus on security for the Games.

Since it is an 11-day sporting event, our resources will be exhausted. The markets can stay open on their weekly offs in lieu of the days they are being asked to shut down,” said an officer. The opening ceremony will take place on October 3, a Sunday, while the closing ceremony will be held on October 14, which is a Thursday and which is likely to be declared a national holiday by the government.

A shopkeeper from Connaught Place said, ‘‘Who will bear our losses? Delhi Police wants the entire city to stay inside their houses so they can provide security for Games.”

President of Khan Market Association, Sanjeev Mehra, however, said, ‘‘We will cooperate with the police. It’s a question of national honour and we want to extend our support. All shopkeepers will follow the advisory. Sales will suffer but there was no need for the police to use coercion when asking for markets to be shut down .”
 


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