Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Usain Bolt won't run at CWG, confirms manager

Usain Bolt will not be running at the Commonwealth Games, his manager Ricky Simms confirmed to TOI on Wednesday.

"I can 100 per cent confirm that Usain will not be running at the Commonwealth Games," Simms informed after the sprint champion’s name figured in the preliminary list of athletes submitted to the Commonwealth Games organisers by the Jamaican Olympic Association.

"Maybe this list was sent in some time ago," Simms added. "The Commonwealth Games is not on Usain’s schedule for this year."

Simms in fact, echoed what Bolt’s coach Glen Mills had said last week. Bolt had himself expressed doubts over his Commonwealth Games participation in a interview to TOI last year.

If finding Bolt’s name on the Jamaican list had raised the Games’ organisers’ hopes, Simms had a stern message for them.

"I do not understand why the CWG official cannot just accept his decision and stop putting out more stories in the press. They should focus on the athletes who are coming to India," Simms said through email.

Bolt might not be willing to come to India as a guest either, if invited. "I don’t think Usain would want to come to India as a guest. He is scheduled to resume training after a 4-6 week break at that time," Simms said.

Ministers to oversee CWG projects

With just three months to the Commonwealth Games and several infrastructure projects still in various stages of construction, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit has asked her cabinet of ministers to personally monitor the progress of each work.

In a recent, informal cabinet meeting, Dikshit distributed areas to all her ministers and assigned inspection duties to them.

While finance minister A.K. Walia has been assigned east Delhi, public works department minister Rajkumar Chauhan has been asked to concentrate on works being carried out by his own department. Walia will also keep a tab on progress of all works the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is managing for the sporting event.

While the deadline of most of the projects has already been stretched, Dikshit has told her cabinet to ensure the projects do not get delayed any further.

Sources said health minister Kiran Walia has been asked to look at the projects in south Delhi. She is also overseeing the upgradation of medical facilities in Delhi hospitals.

Delhi social welfare minister Mangat Ram Singhal has been given charge of north Delhi projects.

Delhi set for major sanitation drive ahead of Games

With the Commonwealth Games drawing near, civic authorities in the capital are Thursday set to launch a sanitation drive, which would include disinfecting railway stations, bus stops and major markets.

“This special awareness programme on cleanliness will be carried on from July 1 to July 15. The MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) will engage sanitation staffs, a five-member team in each zone to check and supervise the sanitation work,” Delhi Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney said at a press conference Wednesday.

Apart from this special team, every department of the MCD will participate in this cleanliness drive.

“We are planning to visit every ward within two days from Thursday to supervise the cleanliness programme,” Mayor said.

Major points of the city like the Old and New Delhi railway stations, inter-state bus terminus, airport, markets, religious places and major road junctions would be cleaned and treated with disinfectants.

The corporation will give special attention to the sanitation of latrines and urinals in schools and hospitals run by the civic body.

To prevent waterlogging during the coming monsoon season, the MCD has a special plan to remove debris from several areas in the city. The officials will identify at least one site in each ward where garbage or debris generated out of construction can be thrown, Sawhney said.

About complaints of debris due to works pertaining to Commonwealth Games, he said: “We will ensure that these will not go into drains, as it would lead to waterlogging during rains. We will strictly monitor and if drains are filled with debris, payments to the concerned contractors will not be made until they clear it.”

MCD house leader Subhash Arya said Rs.1 lakh would be provided for every ward in the city to hire trucks to clean the debris from drains before the monsoon sets in.

“Apart from this, the civic body has installed over 600 pumps across the city to avoid waterlogging,” he added.

30,000 Games volunteers to be trained in 3 months

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

It's a concern that OC's training partners, a consortium headed by Amity University including Event Knowledge Services (EKS) besides others, claims will be tackled by the day-long programmes that have been devised for training the volunteers. Said Christian Napier of EKS, "The timeline has been a challenge... but there are advantages to conducting the training near the event date, since their (volunteers) motivation levels are kept high.'' EKS, incidentally, was the training partner in the Melbourne Games as well as in the Asia Games in Doha and the recent PanAsia games in Rio.

Motivation levels were certainly high on Wednesday as a group of 250-odd volunteers underwent the first phase of training. The training which has been divided into general (one day), role specific (half day) and venue specific (half day) sessions will be imparted to 30,000 volunteers who have come from all walks of life. For many, it's a lifetime opportunity that has brought them from over 500km away like Rahul Goel from Bhatinda. Or simply a desire to showcase the city to a bunch of outsiders like Razi Ahmad from Jamia Milia university. "I'm a student of history and I'd like to pass on my knowledge about the city's past to the visitors,'' added Ahmad. What's common amongst all is the high level of dedication and the willingness to spend time doing something for Delhi. Said Shantanu Basu, one of the trainers at the venue, "The sessions are not only geared to disseminate information but also turn this disparate group of people into a team.''

The volunteers, who will be deployed across various functional areas, have been selected by not only OC officials, but also 40 Delhi government school teachers. Of the 30,000 shortlisted, around 4,000 are from the general public, comprising housewives, retired officials, senior citizens. The others are from Delhi University, ministry of tourism, NCC, NSS and the Delhi government. Added Ashok Chauhan of Amity, "The training methodology has been specially structured for the Games by us, EKS and other consortium members.'' Interestingly, while Amity is training the volunteers without charging OC, its deal with the latter will enable it to be part of the branding exercise for the Games. Said Sudhir Mittal, a senior official from the OC, "The sponsorship is based on the amount of the VIK (value in kind), allowing Amity to advertise as part of the Games brand.'' The sponsorship is worth Rs 15 crore.

Amity university official trainer for CWG volunteers

Amity University has been selected as the official trainer for 30,000 volunteers and 2,000 workforce for the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games.

More than 2,000 students from Amity have been selected as volunteers during the Games and over 310 students of Amity have already served as volunteers during the test events.

“The volunteers will be expected to work in any of the 22 Functional Areas. They will gain knowledge and experience which will add immensely to their skill set and competitiveness,” Ashok K Chauhan, president of Amity University told reporters here Wednesday.

There are four phases of volunteer training — general training, role specific training, venue specific training and leadership training.

After the general training, the role specific training (half a day) of over 22,000 volunteers, will start from July 1 and finish by August-end. Venue specific training (half a day) of all 30,000 volunteers will start from Aug 1 at various stadiums and will finish by September 15.

“The leaders chosen from among these volunteers will then undergo the leadership training at Amity,” he said.

The training modules have been very carefully designed to meet the requirement during the games, said Chauhan.

The general training is divided into eight sessions providing comprehensive details on the background of the CWG, heritage of Delhi, workforce operations, accreditation process for different groups, conflict resolution and the importance of communication.

Air quality monitoring system for Commonwealth Games by July-end

By July-end the air quality monitoring system developed for the Commonwealth Games will start providing real time pollution data at 11 key locations in the city - and will continue to do so till long after the Oct 3-14 mega event is over.

Scientists from the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) are in the process of installing air quality monitoring stations at the 11 locations near the Games village and venues.

The air quality stations will provide information on level of pollution within a four-kilometre radius on an hourly basis and forecast about air quality 24 hours in advance through wireless colour digital display panels which will be installed in various parts of the capital.

The monitoring stations are part of the System of Air Pollution Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) developed by the IITM at a cost of Rs.100 million (USD 2 million).

"The system will tell us about the quality of air at any given moment and also what it will be 24 hours later, thus alerting people and helping them avoid immediate exposure to unhealthy air," Gufran Beig, SAFAR scientist and project director, told IANS.

The IITM has already started receiving data from air quality monitoring stations installed at the Palam meteorological office near the Indira Gandhi International Airport, the IITM office in West Delhi and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) in Noida on the national capital's outskirts.

At eight other places - Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex, Thyagaraj Sports Complex, Indira Gandhi Sports Complex, Dr. S.P. Mukherjee Swimming Stadium, Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, Siri Fort Sports Complex and Yamuna Sports Complex - it will be operational by the end of July.

A team of IITM experts has been stationed in the capital since mid-June to complete the installation work after their receiving clearance from the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.

"The air monitoring system will be housed in a walkway shelter made of glass-reinforced material to make it water- and fire- proof," said Beig.

The monitoring system comprises instruments like ozone and carbon monoxide analysers, particulate matter analysers and real time analysers for recording other pollutants.

"The institute has already begun the trail run of SAFAR. We are now validating the data of Oct 2008 and 2009 by putting in parameters like temperature, pressure and humidity and matching the forecast made by the system with the real weather during that time. As of now, the accuracy level is 90 to 95 percent," Beig said.

According to scientists, weather forecast during the Games will be more accurate as they have prepared a vehicle emission inventory for the Games.

Explaining how the generated data will come handy for air quality forecasting, Beig said: "If on a particular day it is found that the pollution level is high, we will recommend to the Delhi government to shut some industries or divert traffic near the venues."

The monitoring system is important as some athletes have hinted at skipping the Games as they fear that Delhi's air is unsafe to breathe. But the Games Organising Committee says it is committed to ensuring clean air as the event has been dubbed the first-ever Green Games.

The organisers are confident that the existing traffic density can be reduced drastically by providing quality public transport by way of more Metro trains and green buses.

The Indian capital is among the most polluted cities in the world and the ever-growing number of cars, two-wheelers and three-wheelers occupy a staggering 75 percent of road space, although only 20 percent of the commuting public use them.

Delhi has over five million vehicles and another four million come to the metropolis from towns in adjoining states in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The Games organisers are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping the scientific methods to improve the quality of air in the capital will succeed.

China had a tough time battling air pollution during the Olympic Games last year and there are doubts whether Delhi can be as effective as Beijing in enforcing traffic curbs, raising emission standards and stopping Games' construction work well in time to improve air quality.

But India is hard at work to ensure a pollution-free event.

Commonwealth Games: Queen's Baton reaches Srinagar

The Queen's Baton Relay for the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) reached Srinagar on Tuesday.

The Queen's Baton was taken to the famous Nishat Gardens where sportspersons of the Kashmir valley were present in large numbers.

" We are carrying a message of peace and harmony. After all, sporting activities have no borders, no religion, and no nationality. Its just pure...promoting tolerance, camaraderie and accommodation. That's the message we are carrying," said Lieutenant General (retired) Raj Khadyan, head of the Queens Baton Relay Run, in India.

The sportspersons in Kashmir were happy, and said this baton was a sign of peace.It's not only about the Commonwealth...this is about sports. So, I think, Jammu and Kashmir is very lucky they are witnessing this rally," said Ishfaq Ahmad, a football player.

The baton will cover most states and union territories, travelling a distance of over 20,000 km, before finally reaching New Delhi on September 30.

The Queen's Baton relay is a torch race symbolising the unity and shared ideals of the Commonwealth of nations. It carries a message from the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, currently Queen Elizabeth II of the UK.

The baton has the ability to capture images and sound as it travels throughout the nations of the Commonwealth. With Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, it can be tracked through exact location.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Airlines to score high with Games, airfares to go up 15-20% after Aug

Air fares are expected to rise by 15-20% after August, since advance bookings for the Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi will start in October. It is also expected that leisure travellers will plan their holidays during this time, keeping the Diwali vacations in mind—thereby increasing air travel.

There is, however, a nominal hike in airfares in the offing soon, with fares poised to go up by Rs 100 for domestic travel and Rs 500 for international travel starting July 1. This is owing to the service tax, capped at Rs 100 on domestic travel and at Rs 500 on economy class international travel. Also, fares could go up in case of an unprecedented rise in aviation turbine fuel cost (ATF), which constitutes over 50% of the operating cost to any airline.

Says Bhawna Agarwal, vice-president (airlines) at, “From August, there will be an escalation in advance bookings on account of the CommonWealth Games 2010, coinciding with seasonal booking for summer vacations. As the holiday season commences, airlines will, in full swing, try and improve yields on routes with high-density traffic.” Agarwal also adds that from Thursday, fares will see a nominal movement of Rs 100 in the domestic category which is a negligible percentage increase calculated on the gross value of a ticket. The June quarter is considered a lean season and fares on certain key sectors were already as low as Rs 2,000 in the first week of June, leaving rooms for fare hikes.

Airlines are in no mood to hike fares immediately due to a lean season, unless the situation demands so. According to a spokesperson from Kingfisher Airlines, “As and when there is a fare hike, we shall announce it.” However, in January 2009, all carriers had simultaneously announced a fare hike of up to 25% on key profitable routes where the loads were above 80%. Since then, airlines have been following a cycle of peak and lean seasons while revising fares.

Mahantesh Sabarad from Fortune Finance sees a passenger growth of 15% in the domestic space as there is an increase in demand at par with supply. Airlines like SpiceJet and Jet, amongst others, will receive delivery of aircraft in the ensuing months. These aircraft will be deployed on high-traffic routes.

However, the crucial factor in determining a fare hike is the ATF cost, which is currently under control, compared to August 2008 levels and even.

levels after that, when crude oil peaked at $147, a barrel, the highest levels seen in that time. However, the price did soften to $100 a barrel in the ensuing months.

Fuel prices have fallen year-over-year substantially and is now trading at $78.12 a barrel (as on Monday). An official from a full-service carrier says, “ If crude prices rise unprecedentedly, airlines have no choice but to raise fares.” According to a recent report by IDFC Securities, “ATF prices are pegged at approximately 45% lower than what they were in the financial year 2008-09, which has helped carriers like Jet significantly reduce their operating costs.”

IPBF’s Documentary Film On Commonwealth Games 2010

The International Public Broadcasting Forum has announced documentary on the 100 days of Queen’s Baton Relay which started from Wagah Boarder and will finish in New Delhi.

“It is our honor and privilege to be part of Commonwealth Games 2010, that has induced us to go head with the making of another documentary on the ‘Queen’s Baton Relay 100 days’” said Sandeep Marwah President of Marwah Studios and Chairperson of International Public Broadcasting Forum while appreciating the film makers team which has already started covering Queen’s Baton Relay from last few days.

“I am enjoying coordinating this documentary from Delhi and will see to it that all those precious moments must be recorded which need to be the part of this Documentary” said R.K.Singh Vice President of International Public Broadcasting Forum.

This Documentary will be other than the part of the Multi Media agreement which Marwah Studios has signed with the Organizing Committee of Commonwealth Games 2010.

Free Games tickets for students proposed

Sports Minister M.S. Gill Tuesday suggested that students be provided free tickets for the Commonwealth Games in October.

Addressing a function in the capital, he said such a move will help students get motivated and many champions will emerge in the future from universities and schools.

Sports is all about youth. So I want to request the Organising Committee (OC) to keep a block of free tickets for students from leading schools, and also villages," he said.

However, Games OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, who was also present at the event, did not react immediately to Gill's proposal.

To a query that whether the OC will be able to do it, Gill said: I am sure Sureshji will do it.

The Games are scheduled between October 3-14 and tickets for the events are on sale. The ticket prices range from Rs.50 to Rs.50,000.

Delhi set to launch helpline for tourists

To give tourists visiting the capital during the Commonwealth Games-2010 a helping hand in dealing with harassment of any kind or to provide information about various things, the Delhi government is coming up with a 24-hour helpline.

The helpline is likely to have the number 111.
According to government officials, the helpline will not only be of help when tourists face problems at the hands of a tout or an autorickshaw driver, it will also help the person in question get a fair idea about the Games venues, places where he can find accommodation, information about cultural programmes and other related information.

A request has been made to the authorities concerned to allot the number 111 as the helpline number as it is easy to remember and dial. The helpline will also disseminate information about various departments of the city government, as well as about its e-governance programmes.
The information technology department, which is working on the project, is hoping to make the helpline operational in time for the Games.

The tendering process has already been set in motion and a good response during the pre-tendering meeting has made the department hopeful of successful launch of the helpline by early October when the Games begin.
Further, even after the Games are over, the service will continue and provide help to tourists or other visitors to the capital.

Though the Union tourism ministry has been running programmes to teach the autorickshaw drivers mannerisms and skills to deal with the tourists without harassing the latter, the programme has not been received with enthusiasm by a large number of autorickshaw drivers.

Given that the autorickshaw drivers in the capital generally tend to take the tourists for a ride, such a helpline would come in handy in preventing tourists from complaining about basic services, said an official.

CWG: Gill inaugurates Cyling Velodrome

Sports Minister M S Gill on Tuesday inaugurated the brand new Cyling Velodrome, a venue for the Commonwealth Games, and asked the organisers to take good care of the infrastructure after the quadrennial event.

Built in 17 months and at a cost of Rs 150 crore, the Veladrome has been billed as the second only to the one used during Beijing Olympics and will have its first test event in late next month.

There were concerns over the timely completion of the venue due to the slow pace of construction work and the oraginsers said that it was a challenge to come up with a facility like this.

"It's a special occasion today. There were issues but it has come up in 17 months and undoubtedly something to be proud of. The other venues are also ready and I am just fixing the dates for their inauguration.

"But what after the wedding? The 'Pandal' has to be taken care of after wedding. These venues are world class and need to be taken care of well," Gill said while inaugurating the venue in the Indira Gandhi stadium complex.

The venue is a seven metre wide, 250m long Timber cycling track with four metre safety zone made of Siberian Pine Wood. It has a seating capacity of 3500 and also have facilities for the disabled athletes.

The Sports Minister also advised the orgainsers to keep a quote of free tickets for the rural youth and University students.

"Sports is all about youth. I want to request Mr Suresh Kalmadi to keep a bloc of free tickets for students from not only leading schools but also for the students of the village and also University kids.

"There will be 15000 people coming and we have to give them good hospitality only then we can say that wedding has gone off well," Gill said.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Organising Committee chairman Kalmadi were also present on the occasion.

"Credit should go to the Sports Authority of India and CPWD for it (construction of the venue). The job has been done not only elegantly and beautifully but with the the state-of-the-art facilities.

"I have begun to feel that these will be the best Commonwealth Games," Dikshit said in her address.

Kalmadi said the Velodrome along with Tyagraj stadium were the best.

"I was asked in an interview which is the best venue. I said all the venues are world class but there is a tie between Tyagraj stadium and this Velodrome," he said.

"The World Cycling body wanted wooden floor instead of concrete and air conditioned velodrome. It was a challenge and it has turned out to be the best," Kalmadi said.

Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, President of the Cycling Federation of India, also praised the venue.

"I was jittery initially but the organisers kept on insisting that everything will be done. Do not expect medals from us but with facilities in place we can hope something in the Asian Games," he said.

"We are managing with just one foreign coach and do not have much equipments. The cycles are also very costly," he said.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dug-up delhi: missing the point

Claims of the state administration and civic bodies notwithstanding, several prominent Commonwealth Games projects lag behind schedule and are likely to miss their deadlines. Newsline takes a look.

1. Connaught place

Developer: New Delhi Municipal Council

While NDMC will complete facade restoration work of all the blocks in CP, it has decided to stop work on the Middle Circle that remains completely dug up. It will be taken up and completed after the Games. Other work like underground service ducts, centralised air-conditioning system and construction of underground parking spaces will also be taken up after the Games.

2. Elevated Road on Barapullah Nallah

Developer: Public Works Department

The project, which will provide non-stop connectivity between the Ring Road near Sarai Kale Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to over 10,000 players during the Games, missed its June 2009 deadline. The deadline was renewed to May 2010 and extended till mid-August. Work on two junctions on the corridor is yet to begin.

3. Rani Jhansi Road Grade separator

Developer: Municipal Corporation of Delhi

It took the MCD over 10 years to finally start work on the 1.7-km grade separator in September 2009. The civic agency says only a section of it will be ready for the Games, citing disputes over acquisition of land between various government authorities. The four-lane grade separator, to cost Rs 177 crore, will begin at Filmistan Cinema and extend till St Stephen’s Hospital, thus reducing the traffic chaos on the stretch.

4. Akshardham Flyover

Developer: Delhi Development Authority

The Akshardham Setu that will make NH-24 signal free was one of the first Games projects that succumbed to poor planning and delays. With an initial deadline of June 2009, the project will not see the light of the day before Games. The delay, officials say, was caused due to the late handing over of the land along the UP Link Road by the UP government. The DDA had also planned three cloverleaf flyovers and three slip roads to integrate them with the existing flyover.

5. U P Link road

Developer: Public Works Department

Once complete, the road will provide signal-free connectivity from the Games Village till Noida. With an initial deadline of June 2009, work on the Rs 334-crore project began only late last year. The new deadline was May 2010. Officials blamed the delay on the “tussle between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh governments over the 21-acre land used for the project”.

CWG: Delhi Police to replace unfit personnel in its PCR vans

Delhi Police is looking for young and agile staff to man its over 200 Police Control Room (PCR) vans ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
Officials say the department has decided to remove aged, overweight or unfit policemen from its 230 PCR vans.

Those selected will get training in spoken English and the soft skills required to assist foreign delegates and domestic visitors expected in the capital for the sporting extravaganza in October.

"We have decided to employ physically fit, young and agile men and women in PCR vans. The induction will be completed by mid-September," Additional Commissioner of Police (PCR) Kewal Singh told reporters.

He said these personnel would be given basic medical training to act in case of emergency.

The PCR vans are normally the first responders to all incidents and accidents where police help is sought. During the Games, these will be the public face of Delhi Police, hence the attempt to project a young and vibrant image.

"We have set aside 230 PCR vans which are in good condition (out of a total of 650-odd vans) for Games duty and will be equipping them with medical supplies and first-aid equipment," said Singh.

These vans will be deployed near large hotels, practice venues, Games sites and VIP routes.
"Elaborate security arrangements have been made, including trained commandos, snipers and security personnel for guarding athletes, Games venues and foreign delegates," said another Delhi Police official associated with Commonwealth Games security.

The XIX Commonwealth Games are scheduled here for October 3-14.

The baton is for everyone; Common men become proud batonbearers in the land of five rivers, Punjab

The Queen’s Baton 2010 Delhi has travelled across the land of five rivers – Punjab. Common man got the chance to see, touch and feel the prized baton. From an old farmer in the vast farmlands of the state to its, traditional dancers and martial artists, everyone became the proud Batonbearer. They felt part of the mega-event to be organised in the national capital.

After completing its international leg of journey covering 170,000 kilometres, the baton entered India through the Wagah Border amidst a spectacular ceremony on 25 June 2010.

Next day, the baton left Amritsar (Khasa) Army Cantt for Jallandhar. At Jallandhar baton was welcomed at Hans Raj Maha Vidalya Jallandhar followed by a visit to CRPF divisional Headquarters and a battalion of ITBP. All senior officers of these forces along with other staff were present to greet the baton. Punjab Armed Police (PAP) Rama Mandi and Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police Academy, Phillaur were the next destinations where-in baton was received by retired and serving police officers. Batonbearers were applauded by garlands and bouquets; their creativity was visible in the way the relay was organised with mounted horses with Bhangra and Gidda performers dancing in front of the Batonbearers. This was the place where Maharaja Ranjit Singh built his magazine to ensure victory over Lahore, and the troops marched towards west to conquer his next destination.

The baton halted at Punjab Agriculture University Ludhiana, immediately after which there was tree plantation. Ms. Alka Lamba accompanied by baton crew planted medicinal plant’s saplings to boost the green revolution. In Ludhiana, the baton visited Bharat Nagar Chowk.

The baton’s next destination was Patiala where the baton was received by famous cricketer, commentator and MP Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu who later joined the relay at Patiala Polo Ground. The sport city had organised a fabulous relay where-in about 20 Arjuna Awardee participated. The relay ended at NIS (National Institute Sports) of Patiala. Here the baton was joined by the community of Patiala for a cultural show followed by dinner.

In Patiala, the prominent Batonbearers were, Mr. Bahadur Singh, Brig. Labh Singh, Mr. Garbax Singh Sanhu, Ms. Rupa Saini (Hockey), Mr. Jugraj Singh (Athletic), Mr. Satbir Singh, Capt. HDS Brar (Car Race), Sub. Sham Singh, Mr. Deepak Patiala, Wg. Cdr. Gurpreet Singh Cheema (Defance Flyer), Mr. Harveen Saroa (Shooting), Mr. Sukchain Sing Cheema (Wrestler), Ms. Sunita Devi (Athletic), Mr. Shudeep Singh (Athletics), Mr. Balkar Singh (Atheletics), Mr. Variender Singh (Boxing), Mr. Gurmukh Singh Sandhu (Wrestling), Mr. Ram Singh (Boxing), Mr. Palwinder Singh Cheema, Mr. Gaganjit Singh, Mr. Shamsher Singh Bhoparai (Volley Ball), Mr. Satnam Sing Maan (Cycling), Mr. Sandeep Kaur (Hockey) and Mr. Jagmohan Singh (Athletic).

On 27 June 2010, the baton visited Pathankot in north Punjab. The baton is heading towards Kashmir Valley via Jammu.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vintage cars to ferry VIPs during CWG

A fleet of vintage cars is being readied for ferrying VIPs during the Commonwealth Games.

Carrying the Commonwealth logos, these customised vintage cars including Bentley, Chevrolet, Auburn Speedster, Stutz, Cadillac, Triumph, Rolls Royce will also be utilised for carrying visitors for 'Dilli Darshan' tour around the city.

These high-end princely cars, reminder of the bygone era, will also be exhibited in a 'Vintage Show' for a fortnight during the Games in October.

The exhibition will be held at Nehru Park as part of many events finalised by the government in consultation with the Heritage Motoring Club (HMC) and Games Organising Committee.

While there will be about 2,000 cars for ferrying VIPs during the Games, HMC has offered 25 vintage cars as part of the VIP fleet to be used during the Games.

"We have offered 25 vintage cars with trained drivers in their traditional dresses to carry a few selected VIPs to Games destinations and heritage sites around the city," said Diljit Titus, general secretary of the HMC.

"Since these cars are from royal families of Baroda, Darbhanga, Jaipur, Patiala, Jodhpur, Tehri Garhwal and Bikaner, the drivers will be dressed accordingly," Titus said adding, these cars are in perfect running condition to ply about 20 km a day. "We are also planing to have vintage parade on Rajpath during the Games for visitors," he said.

However, the big picture on the vintage front is the mega event at Nehru Park in Chanakyapuri where a total of 75 vintage and classic cars are coming from all over the country to be part of the fortnight-long show.

"We have been given 40,000 sq ft area covered space at Nehru Park to exhibit 75 heritage cars. These customised high-end luxury cars were part of the royal functions, including weddings and hunting sessions during those days," Titus said.

Among other cars, there will be a Bentley of 1934 make, Triumph (1956), Jaguar (1951), Cadilac (1934), Nash Custom (1934), Auburn Speedbreaker (1936), Stutz (1930), Rolls Royce (1934).

Besides cars, some vintage motorcycles and scooters will also be displayed during the show, he said. The exhibition will have 12 paintings on automotive fine art.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Stay home during Games or face traffic jams, says top cop

Get ready to face massive traffic jams during the 12 days Delhi will host the Commonwealth Games in October this year.

The city police chief on Saturday said traffic jams seemed to be “unavoidable” during the Games as a section of some of the arterial roads would be closed for the movement of vehicles carrying players and delegates.

“There will be jams during the Games and Delhiites should prepare for them. They can either change their plans or avoid travelling on those routes to spare themselves the inconvenience. Or, better they can stay at home,” said Y.S. Dadwal, commissioner of police.

With 99 days to go for the Games, Dadwal reviewed the security arrangements at Dhyanchand National Stadium and Talkatora Stadium.

For the Games, a section on all the routes leading to the Games village, stadia and hotels will be closed. Some of the roads that will be affected are Sardar Patel Marg, the India Gate roundabout, Mother Teresa Crescent and Panchsheel Marg.

Will provide foolproof security for Commonwealth Games

Delhi Police Commissioner reviewed the security set up at Major Dhyan Chand and Talkatora stadiums

Ninety-nine days before the Commonwealth Games begins, the Delhi Police showcased its plans for the security of the mega sporting event.

At the first demonstration of the security arrangements, Delhi Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal reviewed the security set up at Major Dhyan Chand and Talkatora stadiums on Saturday. The Delhi Police commandos, who are also being trained at the National Security Guards training campus in Manesar, have been stationed at the two stadiums so that they could get familiar with the demographics.

The force that would ensure the security during the Games includes: Delhi Police commandos and personnel, paramilitary personnel and NSG commandos. According to the Delhi Police chief, the personnel will be trained to handle any situation or security breach.

According to officials, there will be close to 1,000 police officers and central paramilitary force officials apart from NSG commandos at strategic locations at each Games venue — 60 to 70 of these will be Delhi Police commandos.

Dadwal checked the placement of the CCTV cameras and entry and exit points of VVIPs, athletes and audience.

“Everything is in place. We will provide foolproof security. I will be personally monitoring the whole security situation during the Games and we have all the coordination from the Organising Committee and government,” he said.

Over 30,000 officials of the Delhi Police, 65 companies of paramilitary forces and hundreds of of cameras have been put in place at the Games venues. Each venue has a ‘venue commander’ of additional commissioner rank.

“The Hockey World Cup (held early this year at the Major Dhyan Chand) went great under the supervision of Additional Commissioner R S Krishnia. Every senior officer including joint commissioners and special commissioners would be part of the security arrangements,” said Dadwal.

Stating that officials would be deployed outside the boundary line in the grounds in track suits, Dadwal added there will be air-surveillance of the venues. He, however, did not comment on if air-surveillance of Major Dhyan Chand stadium would be possible because of its proximity to India Gate.

To ensure a streamlined traffic management, exclusive lanes have been chalked out for Games vehicles. These exclusive lanes will connect event venues, hotels, the Games Village, practice venues and other important places. “Along the routes, there will be anti-sabotage teams, Quick Response Teams, commandos, ambulances, uniformed personnel and snipers on rooftops. Buses carrying athletes will have armed personnel besides armed escort vehicles,” said a senior police officer.

The security apparatus at the stadiums would include three-meter perimeter wall along with 1.5 meter iron grills, CCTV surveillance, Quick Response Teams and teams to battle chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear explosives. For vehicles, there will be radio frequency identification, under vehicle scanners, boom barriers and ‘tyre killers’.

The individuals entering the stadiums would be checked by door-frame metal detectors, hand-held metal detectors and X-Ray scanners. They would also have bar-coded passes and IDs. The security personnel and private security guards on duty at venues have been given non-clonnable identity cards, said the officer. There are also plans to get one ‘cargo scanner’ to check trucks without opening the doors.

Also, the Delhi Police has set up a Central Command Control Center at its headquarters.

Delhi Commonwealth Games to power sports management

It’s less than a 100-day sprint to the Commonwealth Games 2010, and the charged atmosphere at the plush office of the Games Organising Committee near New Delhi’s iconic Jantar Mantar is palpable.

An army of young, enthusiastic Indian graduates, some MBAs, some just plain university grads, some with experience in sports management and many with a passion for sports, are brushing shoulders with around 70 foreign experts in what’s perhaps the biggest team event of the Games.

For the last two years, many of these young men and women have been pouring in on power point presentations, charts, diagrams and designs to create the backbone of the Commonwealth Games. If the Games go through well, they know, India will get to host more such big sporting events and sports managers will be in vogue.

The prospects are huge. Apart from the Commonwealth Games, there are a number of other sports properties which are planned in India in the near future. Up next is the ICC World Cup cricket next year, the Formula One, the Chennai Open and Sunfeast Open tennis tournaments and a few golf tournaments.

Needless to say, managing logistics, marketing, catering, ceremonies, crowd, ticketing, media, among others, will be big challenges in the future and like everywhere else in the world, young professionals with the right skillsets will get to play their part.

Consider the Indian Premier League for instance. Even those with grudges against Lalit Modi will admit that holding such an extravaganza wasn’t child’s play. Indeed, Mr Modi’s IPL had to look outside India, and finally hired IMG, to manage the show. Even team owners have had their share of problems finding the right sports managers. They have either hired former sportsmen or deputed senior executives of group companies to run the show.

“It is not necessary that these people will become good sports managers. Most do not have the kind of exposure we are looking for. But then, where are the specialists?” says Rakesh Singh, head-marketing at India Cements, which owns the Chennai Super Kings IPL team.

India Cements is in the process of creating a professional organisation around IPL, which will have 12 different verticals including commercials, sponsorship selling, logistics, player management, new player development and merchandising among others. For these verticals, they are looking for trained manpower. “We may get skilled manpower after the games,” he agrees.

For the sports professionals, however, the prospects are global. Rajan Kumar (name changed on request), an MBA, who works with the transport vertical within the OC says he has already applied to work with the London Olympic Games. “I am also about to begin approaching sports marketing firms for a job,” he says.

Mr Kumar has been at the OC for a year and a half now and says he has been trained about pitching, sourcing, planning, operations, execution, problem solving, crisis management during his stint here. “We look at minute details of sporting events, which is rare in this country.” The OC has hired 70 international experts who are working as consultants. The next big sporting event in India should see just one-tenth of this number of experts, says the official. Even other Asian nations organising big sporting events will want to use this talent as these Indian experts will definitely be less expensive than their western counterparts. The OC is spending close to Rs 100 crore a year on these 70 international experts.

To solve the problem, institutes like the International Institute of Sports Management (IISM) are being set up to train future sports marketing and management professionals. The Mumbai-based institute will run the programme in association with Jai Hind College and has experts like Ravi Shastri, Mahesh Bhupati and many others from the industry on its advisory board.

The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad too is introducing a course on Professional Management of Sports Organisation (PMSO) this year. “With the Commonwealth Games in Delhi this year and the popularity of Indian Premier League (IPL), sports management is emerging as a new field,” says IIM-A director Samir Barua.

Ex-cricketer Nilesh Kulkarni, who is a director at Eduhub Education which runs IISM says there is a huge demand for talent from the sports industry. “There is not enough training available for sports marketing in India. Most people learn on the job,” he says. The institute has training tie-ups with large sports marketing and management firms such as Globosport, Procam International, PMG and Percept D’Mark.

Mr Kulkarni points out that while some of the larger firms have got the talent, tier-II and tier-III companies have a huge shortage of talent. “India has had many single sport events, which are large but are very specific but has not had much exposure to the complexity of multi-sports events,” says Harish Krishnamachari, vice-president of sports marketing firm World Sports Group. With the games in Delhi he feels the country will get talent in the event execution space for sure but not so much in the event sponsorship space. Over the years WSG has built up people from scratch, training them in-house. “I would certainly like to see this new trained lot,” he says.

Chandigarh 'runs' for Commonwealth Games

Over a thousand people, including a toddler and a septuaganarian participated as the City Beautiful today celebrated the arrival of the Queen's Baton in India with its own mini event called the Commonwealth Games Run.

In the run, flagged off early in the morning from the Sukhna Lake by UT Home Secretary Ram Niwas, the youngest runner was of 1.6 years of age while and the oldest was 78-year-old.

The event ended at the Bougainvillea Garden, completing the 2.5-km distance along the Sukhna Lake Road.

With the 100-day countdown to the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010 having begun, the focus clearly shifted from cricket, Bollywood and politics to sports as the famous and the unknown, athletes and the stodgy, chefs and scientists, live-wires and the elderly, civilians and the men in uniform, all rose as one.

The first three positions were taken by the CRPF with Hari Shankar Sharma bagging the 1st position. Vikas Kumar and Ashok Kumar came 1st and 2nd runners up respectively and were given cash prizes worth Rs 10,000.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ram Niwas hailed the effort of the organisers, leading Ayurvedic diabetes drug Fenfuro, and stressed the role of every citizen to be a perfect host in making the international event a success.

The event was made a success by the keen participation of the members of CRPF, ITBP, NCC, IMA, Bharti Walmart, Desh Bhagat colleges, Verka and Chandigarh Traders, to name a few.

The participants were offered health drinks and refreshments at the Bougainvillea Garden.

Book on Delhi Metro released to help tourists during CWG

In an effort to make commuting in the capital more convenient, especially for tourists, ahead of Commonwealth Games, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today released a guide book on Delhi Metro.

The book written by Dr M Ramachandaran, Secretary, Union Ministry of Urban Development and Chairman, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC), gives station-wise details of interest to the metro users. ''The Delhi Metro has changed the travelling scenario in the city altogether. With the network's commencement, problems of pollution, congestion on roads, time wastage and cleanliness have been contained,'' the Chief Minister said while addressing mediapersons. The book titled 'Delhi Metro Stations and Surroundings' provides details of 143 stations with their classification, commencement date, location, facilities available, frequency of train services, availability of parking and footfalls received at the station.

The books, released earlier, have been of great help to the youth of the capital, especially the college students, who are now able to reach their classes and movie shows on time, she quipped. The Chief Minister expressed pleasure on the book as it also gives information on other modes of transport in the city.

''Many of us do not know which bus to catch from which Metro station to reach our destination. It has all the information about the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus stands,'' she said.

The book would also give one an insight into the locality in which the station is situated with landmarks nearby viz educational institutions, religious places, sports centres, health institutions, places of historical and tourist interest, among others.

Referring to the Delhi Metro's expanding network, the Chief Minister said soon it will cover 190-km-long route and it is bound to become the life-line of the city after completion of Phase III and Phase IV when its total network length will be around 414 km. Express Airport Line and other routes will prove to be very helpful during Commonwealth Games, she added.

DMRC Managing Director E Sreedharan, who was present on the occasion, described Dr Ramachandaran's tenure as Chairman of DMRC as a Golden Era of the Delhi Metro. Dr Ramachandaran expressed confidence that the book, priced at Rs 100, will become a valuable guide to Metro users and visitors.

''The book is also a great source of knowledge for people who do not know the meaning of terms like gauge over which they travel daily,'' he said.

The book will be available at all Metro stations in a week's time. ''Interested readers will be able to avail the book from the Station Managers,'' DMRC chief PRO Anuj Dayal told UNI.

Queen’s Baton to reach Chandigarh July 1

The Queen’s Baton for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, earlier scheduled to reach Chandigarh July 3, will now arrive here July 1, an official said Saturday.

“The baton will reach Chandigarh July 1 from Jammu. It will stay here for three days before leaving for Una in Himachal Pradesh,” Superintendent of Police H.S. Doon told reporters.

The baton arrived in India Friday from Pakistan via the land border.

CM dismisses Aiyar's remarks; wants people to be proud of CWG

Reacting to Party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar calling Commonwealth Games an ''enormous waste of money'', Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit here today said she wanted people to be proud of the Games.

Mr Aiyar had reportedly said that he was Sports Minister till 2008 and had wanted the government not to go for the Games as it was an ''enormous waste of money'' and termed the way India had bagged the Games as ''tamasha''.

''The state of people living in the colonies right opposite the Games site (on the banks of Yamuna in India) will remain the same,'' the Former Union Minister had said.

Reacting to the comment, Ms Dikshit said, ''there is all round development in Delhi. It is not restricted to any area.'' Citing an example, she said, ''Metro is going to areas like Seelampur. It is not correct to say that development is taking place only in few areas.'' Mr Aiyar had also said, ''The government does not have enough money for social development programmes but has sanctioned Rs 7,000 crore for hosting the Commonwealth Games just to improve Indias image internationally.'' Talking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the inauguration of a waste management plant of Jindal Ecopolis here, Ms Dikshit said, ''CWG are only 100 days away. I would like people to be proud of the Games.''

Commonwealth Games 2010: Sporting Events Calendar

The CWG opening Ceremony will be held in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on October 3, 2010 and closing ceremony will be held in same stadium on October 14, 2010. All Central Government and Delhi Governments offices, Schools, Private and Government institutions etc. will remain closed on October 14, 2010.

Calendar for all events: All events will be held in Delhi and except cycling event will be held in NCR Noida Highway Express.

Event                                       Venue                             Date

Wrestling                              IG Sports Complex                        5-10 October 2010

Weightlifting                         JN Sports Complex                         4-12 October 2010

Tennis                               RK Khanna Tennis Stadium                4-10 October 2010

Table Tennis                         Yamuna Sports Complex                  4-14 October 2010

Squash                              Siri Fort Sports Complex                       4-13 October 2010

a) Clay Target                    Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range             6-13 October 2010
b) Full Bore                       CRPF Campus, Kadarpur                     9-13 October 2010
c) Pistol & Small Bore         Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range              5-13 October 2010

Rugby                               Sevens Delhi University                     11-12 October 2010

Netball                          Thyagaraj Sports Complex                    4-12 & 14 October 2010

Lawn Bowls                         JN Sports Complex                             4-13 October 2010

Hockey                  Maj. Dhyan Chand National Stadium                               4-14 October 2010

a) Artistic                        IG Sports Complex                         4-8 October 2010
b) Rhythmic                        IG Sports Complex                              12-14 October 2010

a) Track                           IG Sports Complex                             5-8 October 2010
b) Road Mass                     Start India Gate                               10 October 2010
c) Road time Trials            Noida Highway Express                          13 October 2010

Boxing                                 Talkatora Indoor Stadium              5-11, 13 October 2010

Badminton                           Siri Fort Sports Complex                    4-14 October 2010

a) Track & Field                  JN Stadium                                    6-12 October 2010
b) Marathon                         JN Statdium/Marathon Course                14 October 2010
c) Walk                                India Gate                                              09 October 2010

Archery                                  Yamuna Sports Complex/                4-10 October 2010

a) Diving                             Dr SPM Swimming Complex                10-13 October 2010
b) Swimming                      Dr SPM Swimming Complex                04-09 October 2010
c) Synchronised                 Dr SPM Swimming Complex                   06-07 October 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Weather factor changes Ganges journey plan

With ‘weather factor’ likely to play an important role, the Queen’s Baton Relay’s journey over the Ganges has been shortened. After a modification in the unique travel plan for the Baton in UP, now the Baton will be reaching Varanasi from Chunar through the Ganga instead of a longer journey from Allahabad to Varanasi planned earlier. The Baton will be taking about one and a half hours through this route which it will be taking on July 12.
Talking to The Indian Express, Principal Secretary Sports (UP) Lalit Varma said, “ After studying the feasibility of taking the baton for Commonwealth Games from Allahabad to Varanasi on a motor boat, we decided that the weather may not be all that supportive for the 7-hour long journey on the river. So now, the Baton will cover a distance of 20 km from Allahabad on the river, then it would be travelling on road again. After reaching Chunar, the Relay will be visiting the ‘Qila’ (fort) there and after that from Chunar till Varanasi, it will be a motor boat journey again.”

Director Sports (UP) Hari Om informed, “ The motor-boat is expected to have 70 to 80 members of the relay team.” While the video conferencing with the Principal Secretary, Sports, and the District Magistrates of the districts where the Baton Relay will pass, have been held twice, an important meeting between the officials from the Organising Committee of Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi and Atul Kumar Gupta, Chief Secretary (UP) was held at Lucknow on March 29 to discuss the modalities of the Queen’s Baton Relay’s travel through Up.

“A final meeting for making the Baton relay a big success will take place on June 28. It will be presided over by the Chief Secretary (UP). DMs and SPs of all concerned districts, sports department officials, UP Olympic Association officials, DGP (UP) besides medical, health, PWD and Cultural department officials will all be present on the occasion,” Hari Om further added.

As far as the route is concerned, it will remain almost the same. In the first phase, from July 8 to 13, the Queen’s Baton Relay will reach Bareilly from Uttarakhand at 2.00 pm on July 8. Thereafter, it would pass through Shahjahanpur and Sitapur on June 9 before reaching Lucknow at 4.15 pm the same day. The Queen’s Baton will be given a warm welcome at Lucknow too. During its night stay at Lucknow, cultural programmes will be organised at CMS Kanpur Road. Folk artistes will be playing a major role in the programmes. It would be heading towards Rae Bareli on July 10. After that it will pass through Amethi and Allahabad before reaching Chunar (Mirzapur) on July 12 from where it will be heading towards Varanasi via a motor boat through the Ganges. In the second phase, from September 19 to 22, the Relay will cover Jhansi and Agra before proceeding towards New Delhi.

Govt game for austerity to trim CWG ceremony costs

Despite a show of strength by the government and the Commonwealth Games Committee at the Wagah border to welcome the Queen’s Baton, there appear to be severe reservations over what all of this is going to cost the exchequer.

At the last GoM meeting on the Games, the finance ministry had made clear that the inaugural and closing ceremonies of the Games were costing way too much money. In a strict edict, the finance ministry informed the urban development ministry that the cost for both these ceremonies should “not to exceed Rs 300 crores.”

According to sources in the government, the figure quoted by the Commonwealth Games committee was close to Rs 450 crores. “The committee has been asked to re-work its budget following this stipulation,” said a government source. A major component of the cost was an expensive laser show in the inaugural ceremony, which again became controversial as the ceremony was scheduled to start at 5.30 in the evening—broad daylight makes laser lights redundant. The revised timing of the ceremony is now 7pm.

In fact, even the expenditure of the passage of the Queen’s Baton through the country was considered profligate by the finance ministry, especially the cost of moving the Queen’s Baton by air. It was said that organising committee would ask defence ministry to provide this escort free of charge. However, when the Financial Express enquired whether any such request was pending with the defence ministry, the answer was in the negative.

Even in the matter of lighting up prominent monuments in the city during the two week course of the Games, government has advised austerity. In fact, Delhi chief minister Sheila Diskhit has advised the committee that lighting of monuments “not be overdone” and that only monuments where cultural events are to take place be lit up.

Apart from profligacy, the the Games committee has also been lagging behind in the award of contracts for supplying sports equipment and even catering contracts. With just 100 days to go for the games to begin, the games within the committee refuse to end.

L-G sure Games Village work will be done in time

With just 100 days to the Commonwealth Games, construction of several infrastructure projects seems to have reached its final stage.

While most road and flyover projects are nearing completion, the government has now shifted its focus to the Commonwealth Games village.

Delhi's Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna visited the Games Village complex in east Delhi on Friday and expressed his satisfaction on progress of work. The LG inspected interiors of the flats, their security and landscaping of the complex and its surrounding areas.

"I am satisfied with the progress made and 100 per cent confident that the work would be completed well within the timeframe. There is absolutely nothing to worry," Khanna told the group of mediapersons accompanying him.

The residential complex, spread across 27 acres has 34 residential towers with 1,168 flats.  Emaar MGF, the developers of the complex, informed Khanna that nine towers have already been handed over to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). The possession of the remaining 25 would be handed over by July 31.

Khanna said he has asked the developers to clean up the area surrounding the Games Village as well. "I have told the developer to remove scrap, level this plot of land and hand it over to DDA by July 5. The DDA will then take 15 days to complete landscaping. I'll visit the complex on July 6 to inspect the progress," the L-G said.

Games Baton in India at last

Right through the journey to this remote border post, two words kept popping up, albeit in different forms. Be it on billboards or as graffiti, their regular appearance had begun to irritate. But standing within handshaking distance of the Zero Line (the thin red line between India and Pakistan), the significance of Aman (peace) and Umeed (hope) dawned.

On view were the smartly turned out BSF personnel in battle fatigues and ceremonial attire. Wired-up and replete with the latest AK rifles, sniffer dogs and mine detectors, the sentinels were on guard along an ominous-looking fence, made to look even more imposing by the barbed wire on it. A few metres away, the Pakistan Rangers, attired in grey and black, carried out the same drill.

The mood might have mellowed on Friday with the Queen's Baton Relay crossing over to mark the 100-day countdown to the XIX Commonwealth Games, but behind the smiling faces, the strain was noticeable.

Despite the chill in ties, both sides united to roll out a spectacle. The buildup started early, 7:40 am to be precise, with Pakistan taking the lead by airing patriotic numbers. At 8:12 am, the two sides threw open their gates for the first time to enable their officials to interact.

The catchy tunes, blaring from the giant speakers, on the other side had set feet tapping when the BSF band warmed up with the composition Bharat ke Jawan. It was a well-rehearsed performance, as was the behaviour of the personnel. Prior to the start, the bandmaster exhorted his men to display conduct befitting the occasion.

At 8:35 am, the gates opened briefly and eight Indian children, carrying a chain of small banners, surged towards the Zero Line to mingle with their counterparts and add to the collection that called for peace.

The countdown to the big moment began at 9:23 am with Pakistan opening its gates. The clock struck 9:30 and Suresh Kalmadi, the Organising Committee chairman, flanked by Mike Fennell, the CWG Federation chief, walked to the Zero Line to receive the baton from Lt Gen Syed Arif Hassan, the Pakistan Olympic Association chief, and Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Pakistan Punjab.

Once home, the baton changed several hands before coming to rest with its bearers—boxers Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom. Once the ceremonial bit was over, it was over to the soul-stirring music of the Wadali brothers and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

People on both sides cheered.

Amid the frenetic activity on the Indian side, Pakistan slowly closed its gates, having delivered the baton to its destination and with it a message of 'Aman' and 'Umeed'.

The cultural events planned for the games

September 30, Thursday

* The Queen’s Baton relay enters Delhi from Gurgaon at 11 am.
* The baton will be relayed through north Delhi. It will visit some Games venues like the Rugby venue in Delhi University.
* Cultural event in the evening.

October 1, Friday

* The baton relay will continue in east Delhi. It’ll visit the Games Village and sporting venues like Yamuna Sports complex.
* Cultural event in the evening.

October 2, Saturday

* In Central Delhi, the baton is likely to be carried by different modes of transport like Metro, auto rickshaws and tongas.
* It’ll also be taken to historical monuments like the Qutab Minar and Red Fort during the relay.

October 3, Sunday

* The 340-day long Queen’s baton relay will conclude after the baton reaches Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and is docked there.
* Queen Elizabeth II’s message will be removed from the baton and read aloud, marking the opening of the Games.

Opening day ceremony — 5 pm to 8.30 pm

* The ceremony will kick off with a 30-second aerial display of fireworks from the stadium roof. There will be more fireworks throughout the Commonwealth nations flag parade.
* Oscar winning musician and singer A.R. Rahman, who has also composed the Games theme song, will perform.
* Orissa-based Prince Dance Group, which shot to fame after winning the reality show — India’s got talent — is also expected to perform. There will be an hour-long dance programme by the troupe of a renowned classical danseuse.
* The evening will end with another firework display.

October 3 - October 14

* Light and sound show at Red Fort depicting stories of freedom struggle and independence
* A similar show at Old Fort will be about the six cities within Delhi.
* Dasatan-e-Dilli, a 45-minute show about the story of Delhi will be held at Quli Khan tomb at Mehrauli.
* Previous winners of the annual Commonwealth Writers’ Prize will be brought together at a special literary event.
* All historical monuments and other important buildings will be illuminated.
* Events showcasing Indian folk and classical dances and music will be held at venues like Nehru Park, CP central park, Red Fort, Old Fort, Firoze Shah Kotla, Ravindra Bhawan, Humayun’s tomb, Safdarjang tomb, India Gate and the Games village.
* A special film and theatre festival is also being planned, apart from festivals showcasing Indian arts and crafts.
* Programmes featuring fusion music and dance will also be held at venues like Nehru Park and CP central park.

October 14, Thursday

Closing ceremony — 5 pm to 8.30 pm

* Like the opening ceremony, this event too will commence with a dazzling display of aerial fireworks.
* Commonwealth nations’ flag parade.
* Classical dance and music performances have been planned. The ceremony will be attended by eminent personalities from the field of sports, films, culture and politics.
* There will be a small presentation on the next Game in 2014 in Glasgow.
* Short promotional video of the next Commonwealth Games will be shown.
* The Commonwealth Games Ceremonial Flag will be handed to Glasgow, the next host city.
The Calendar

India, Pakistan singers chorus message of peace and love (With Queen's Baton story)

As Puranchand Wadali of the famous Wadali brothers singing duo began the jugalbandi "mast-kalandar" with Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, it received thunderous applause from an enthusiastic gathering present here to welcome the Queens Baton Relay for the 19th Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

"Ei hind kya jaane dil ko, uski bhi majboori hai, ishq mein pagal sa hona, shayad zaroori hai, chalte-chalte jug beetein hain, dil ki nazuk rahon mein, waqt-e-waqt-suna that humne, bus do kadmon ki doori hai," Khan and Wadali brothers sang, preaching the message of peace and brotherhood.

The strains of sufi music were quick to melt in the surroundings and soothed an exhausted gathering battling the scorching sun. It was a fitting welcome to the baton which was coming to India after traversing 1,90,000 km in 340 days.

The message was of love, whether it was the opening rendition Allahu by Khan or the Tu Maane Ya Na Maane by Wadalis, the theme being friendship through sports.

We want the animosity between the two countries (India and Pakistan) to end and what better way to do that than through music. In the past, the singers from the two countries were barred from entering each otherss countries and we want this wall to be broken, said the older of the Wadali brothers, Pyarelal Wadali.

Khan agrees and says it is peace that people of the two countries wish for. The effort is to use this platform to promote love and peace. Now with Commonwealth Games, we are striving to forge friendships through sport and we pray that we succeed in our endevour.

True to his words, Khan regaled the crowd when he ended his rendition with a Punjabi couplet which said; Rab na seta vich rehnda, na mandir vich rehna, rabnu randi sau, rab preeta vich rehna da. (God is niether in Sita nor in temple, God resides where there is love.)

A standing ovation was soon to follow and the rendition even got the applause from the crowd across the border. A host of dignitaries which included Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, governor Shivraj Patil, Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief Suresh Kalmadi, Pakistan Olympic Association chief Syed Arif Hassan, stood up clapping to acknowledge their performance.

The colourful ceremony also included folk dancers and musicians and a BSF band.

"We really like the performance of the Wadali brothers and Rahet Fateh Ali Khan. It had a message and it touched the hearts of everyone present. We hope it brings peace and harmony between the two neighbours, said Deepak Singh, a BSF personnel who was among the lucky few to attend the function.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Commonwealth Games a platform to exhibit positive behaviour: Shahbaz

Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif has said that he does not expect the Queen Baton’s Relay (QBR) and the Commonwealth Games (CWG) to make any diplomatic breakthroughs, however this event is an opportunity to exhibit friendly and positive behaviour for all the participating nations.

Addressing a ceremony held to honour the QBR Director General Raj Kadyan, Commonwealth Games Member Organising Committee Mangalam Singh and veteran sportsmen and women who will be relaying the Queen’s Baton, the chief minister said that the Commonwealth Games were a unique event which united the shared link among the participating countries. He said that the QBT journey celebrated this event of sports and culture and delivered the message of Commonwealth’s camaraderie wherever it went. It binds all the 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth with the solitary message of ‘peace and harmony through sports,’ he added.

The CM wished the Indian government and organisers best of luck for the event and assured them complete cooperation by the Pakistanis on each and every front. He thanked the Pakistan Olympic Association President Lt Gen (retd) Syed Arif Hassan for his dedicated efforts for the promotion of sports.

CWG Member Organizing Committee Mangalam Singh lauded the hospitality of the Pakistan Olympic Association and thanked the chief minister for gracing the event with his presence. He said the CWG was meant for strengthening the bond between 71 nations and the most beautiful way of teaching competitiveness with tolerance and friendship. He said that the QBR symbolised a message of peace and harmony traveling through 71 countries.

India's biggest sporting extravaganza rolls out

Get ready for India’s biggest sporting extravaganza. On Thursday, the organising committee of the Commonwealth Games 2010 unveiled the plans for the handover of the Queen’s Baton from the Pakistan Olympic Association.

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

Talking about the handover of the baton, OC head Suresh Kalmadi said, “It is a matter of immense pride for the entire nation. The Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 Delhi will act as a great unifying force for the country. We have broken ground for more sportspersons (to participate) but most important, we are here at the Mecca of the Sikhs to receive the baton.” The enthusiasm of the state participants was more than apparent as a host of local dignitaries, including Navjot Singh Sidhu, turned out to welcome the unveiling of OC plans. The Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 will enter India from the Wagah Border on June 25, and will be handed over to the Indian Olympic Association president, Kalmadi. The baton will thereafter be handed down to CWG president Michael Fennell, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and several other senior government officials.

For sports enthusiasts though, it will be the handing over of the baton to India’s Olympic medalist, Vijender Singh, followed by Mary Kom that’s bound to raise spirits. The relay will officially be started by Singh and Kom. Speculation is rife that a sportstar from the Pakistan sporting arena will also be part of the show, and will help the Pakistan Olympic Association president hand over the baton.

After the handover on Friday, the baton will travel through over 100 cities, using various modes of transport. From Punjab, it will be travelling to J&K and onwards, before reaching Delhi on September 30.

Few sponsors, OC ok with terms

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

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

This contract is worth Rs 10 crore. This will include providing apparel and other sportswear to around 33,000 OC officials including volunteers and maintenance staff. OC has been looking for sponsors for some time now. After Hero Honda, which signed on as a co-partner with the Games, and the Indian Railways, the only other company to sign on has been Coca Cola. Sources say OC is also hoping to rope in Tata Motors as sponsors for the national sector of the Queen’s Baton Relay. Tata Motors will be providing the vehicles that form part of the convoy. Said a senior OC official, ‘‘The deal has not been finalized yet, but we are in talks with the company to associate with the QBR through sponsorship of the convoy vehicle.’’ If the motor company comes on board, it would be the second such company after Hero Honda. Till now, the OC has not been able to generate as much revenue from sponsorships and other avenues as had been expected. While it earned around Rs 300 crore from TV rights, it got a Rs 100 crore deal from the Indian Railways. The loan taken by the OC for conducting the Games meanwhile is Rs 1,620 crore.

Run for Commonwealth Games tomorrow

In the run up to the Commonwealth Games 2010, The Times of India, in association with Chandigarh-based pharma company Fenfuro that manufactures innovative diabetes management products, is organizing a run in cities like Chandigarh, Ambala, Jalandhar, Ludhaina, Shimla, Jammu and Srinagar.

The run, which already took place in Amritsar on June 20, has been a grand success in the city. Next in line are events that would be organized in Chandigarh and Jalandhar on June 26. The Times of India has invited all residents to participate in the event and make it a huge success. The run will start from Sukhna Lake at 6.30 am and culminate at Bougainvillea garden.

In Jalandhar, the run will start from DPS, Jalandhar, and culminate at Viva Collage Mall. Cash prizes for first three positions and early bird T-shirts will be an added attraction for the participants. The events have been co-sponsored by Viva Collage Mall, Jalandhar, and Leader Bicycles, Ludhiana. Verka is the beverage partner.

DMRC fast-tracks Badarpur line for September finish

The Central Secretariat-Badarpur Metro corridor is expected to meet its Commonwealth Games deadline with the Delhi Metro putting work on the fast-track on this 20-km stretch. With plans to commission the line by September, the DMRC announced on Thursday that trial runs on a section of the corridor could begin by July 1.

“We are planning to lower four coaches of a standard gauge train at the ramp located between Jangpura and Lajpat Nagar this Saturday night. Initially, trials will be conducted on the 9-km stretch between Central Secretariat and Lajpat Nagar, they will be gradually extended to other sections as they get ready,” said a DMRC spokesperson.

“It will take a few days to assemble the train and trials should begin by July 1,” he added.

The DMRC has undertaken this special procedure for the first time and it is expected to save at least a month’s time.

The coaches will be brought from the Mundka depot on special trailers and permissions have been sought from the Delhi Traffic Police to divert traffic near Defence Colony and Moolchand flyovers from 11 pm on Saturday till 6 am on Sunday.

The 20-km Line 6 of the Metro network will eventually be integrated with the existing Line 2 (Central Secretariat-Jahangirpuri). But as Line 2 is built on broad gauge, the new underground station constructed alongside the existing one will serve as an easy interchange point once the new line comes up.

“Walls of the existing Central Secretariat station will be pulled down to merge it with the new station. It will provide an access between the concourse and the platform levels of the two stations,” said DMRC spokesperson Anuj Dayal.

“Once completed, this will be the only Metro station in the world with two gauges,” he added.

Games an opportunity to showcase Indian history, culture, says Kalmadi

The Queen’s Baton Relay which reached Pakistan on Wednesday will be handed over to the Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi on Friday at the Attari border by Pakistan Olympics Association chief Syed Arif Hassan. A rehearsal for the reception was held on Thursday at the border according to protocol with India and Pakistan officials amid high security.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Congress leader Sachin Pilot and Commonwealth Games Chief Executive Officer Mike Hooper will attend the reception of the Baton on Friday. Earlier, while addressing the media, Kalmadi said Mike Fennell, Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation, will be the chief guest on the ocassion.

“We are thankful to Pakistan as without their help we could not have won the bid for Commonwealth Games. Tomorrow’s reception of the Baton will also be a new chapter for the Indo-Pak friendship,” said Kalmadi adding that he was happy that Punjab, which has produced some great sportspersons, is the first state to host the Baton.

He said the Games are the country’s biggest sports extravaganza after the Asian Games. It is an opportunity for India to showcase its cultural and history before the world, he said, adding that holding such big events are not the prerogative of the developed countries alone.

On the criticism over the arrangements falling apart, he said the critics will be silenced once everything is finalised.

“The opening and closing ceremonies will be remarkable and those who witnessed the Beijing’s Olympics would have us to make comparisons,” boasted Kalmadi, flanked by BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, Punjab Olympics Association general secretary Raja Sidhu, MP and Games’ Media Committee Chairman Tarlochan Singh. After receiving the Baton, it would be handed over to the winner of the Olympics bronze medal Vijender Singh and women world boxing champion Mary Kom to start the Indian leg of the relay, said Raja Sidhu.

Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mayor Shawet Malik will receive the baton on the outskirts of the city to take it to the Golden Temple, Durgiana Mandir and finally to the Company Bagh. “This is a historic occasion and a cause for celebrations,” said Kalmadi. Tarlochan Singh said the Wadali brothers from India and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan from Pakistan will recite qawwalis at the border.

Queen’s Baton Relay

The Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) is an enduring tradition of Commonwealth Games. It was introduced in 1958 games in Cardiff, Wales. In 1998 Games, held at Kuala Lumpur, the QBR traveled to other Commonwealth countries for the first time. The Baton has evolved into the symbol of unity and diversity of the Commonwealth nations. The Queen’s Baton 2010 Delhi has been created by using the triangular section of aluminum which is twisted in the form of a helix and is coated with soil in graduating pattern. A message from the Queen is engraved on a 18 karat gold leaf, using the modern laser technology know as micro calligraphy. The Baton is 664 millimeters high, 34 millimeters wide at base and 86 millimeters at top and weighs 1,900 grams. It has a GPS fixed to it and can be traced where ever it goes. The LEDs fixed on it display the flag of the country where it is traveling.

Baton showcases power of sport to bridge societies

There are a hundred days to go for the start of the XIX Commonwealth Games. What a lovely day it promises to be, with us assembling at the Wagah Border to receive the Queen’s Baton 2010 Delhi from Pakistan after travelling to 69 nations across the Commonwealth over 240 days.

I am excited that we are witnessing the power of sport to be a bridge between societies. Our colleagues in the Pakistan Olympic Association have always offered us great support—helping us in November 2003 to win the bid to host the Games and standing by us through thick and thin, seeing themselves as co-hosts. I am confident, therefore, that Indo-Pakistan sport will remain an important connect between the peoples of the two great nations.

I am delighted that the Baton has completed a remarkable journey over 170,000 km on the international sector from the time it was launched in Buckingham Palace on October 29, 2009 by Queen Elizabeth II in the presence of President Smt. Pratibha Patil.

The Baton has passed through the hands of numerous Heads of State and leaders, ace athletes and common folk. It has been to iconic locations, been to parks that speak out for conservation of flora and fauna in keeping with our resolve to host the first Green Games. It has been exposed to a variety of modes of transport and has encapsulated the diversity of the Commonwealth.

But more importantly, it has demonstrated the remarkable power of sport to unite the Commonwealth. It is a powerful tool that can strengthen social ties and networks, and promotes ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice — all that independent India has stood for.

It has also acted as an ambassador for the Delhi Commonwealth Games, inviting the athletes from far off lands to come here for the celebrations of the Games. Back home in India, as it covers 20,000 km over the next 100 days, the Baton will be a wonderful opportunity for us to instill a greater sense of national pride in ourselves and to promote Olympic sport.

I must thank the Governments of each state and UT for being an integral part of this project that will touch millions of people. I am sure the Baton can and will be the launch pad for the creation of a greater sense of sports consciousness in the country. On this milestone day, with just 100 days to go for the curtain to go up on the biggest sporting spectacle in India, the Organising Committee renews it commitment to hosting not just a successful Games but also a grand and memorable one.

Queen's Baton Relay for 2010 CWG to arrive in India on Friday

The city of Golden Temple is all geared up to welcome the Queen's Baton Relay's entry to India from Pakistan through Wagah-Attari border on Friday before it embarks on a 100-day national tour to culminate in New Delhi for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The QBR, which was launched by Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace in London on October 29 last year in the presence of Indian President Pratibha Patil, is nearing the end of its 190,000-kilometer journey covering 71 nations and territories across the world.

Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the CWG Organising Committee, will receive the baton from Pakistan Olympic Association President Lt Gen Syed Arif Hassan at the international border, where the Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell will also be present.

"Fennell will be arriving here specially to attend the programme, which will see the beginning of 20,000-kilometer journey touching all the states and union territories of the country," Kalmadi said at a press conference here today.

Four-time world boxing champion Mary Kom and Olympic bronze medallist pugilist Vijender Singh will be among the star sportspersons to attend the hand-over ceremony of the QBR, which will culminate at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on October 3, the opening day of the quadrennial multi-discipline sporting extravaganza.

After receiving the baton at the international border, Kalmadi will hand it over to the athletes present there who will then pass it on to Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while his Delhi counterpart Sheila Dikshit will also attend the function.

Former India cricketer and Amritsar MP Navjyot Singh Sindhu and the city Mayor will take it through various places in the city, including the famous Golden Temple and Durgiana Temple.

Performance by late Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's son Rahat Ali and the Indian Sufi singers, the Wadali brothers will then enthrall the audience present there.

After Amritsar, the baton will pass through other cities of Punjab, including Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Pathankot before entering Jammu and Kashmir by the end of this month.

"I am happy that the baton is arriving first in Punjab which has produced a number of international sportspersons in various disciplines. The QBR has generated good response in all the countries it has passed through so far and I expect all the Indians will be the part of this great journey," Kalmadi said.

A commemorative postage stamp will also be released on the occasion on Friday.

The baton, which will be under the security cover given by a 90-strong team through its journey touching over 400 cities and villages in India, will spread the message of love and friendship, said Kalmadi, also the chief of Indian Olympic Association.

Railways to run Technology Express to popularise IT

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday announced that a special express train will be launched just after the October Commonwealth Games to promote information technology (IT) across the country.

"The train, named Technology Express will be launched from Kharagpur (West Bengal
) after the Commonwealth Games to raise awareness about information technology in remote areas and small towns," Banerjee announced at the flagging off ceremony of the Commonwealth Express here.

The minister said the help of Indian Institutes of Technology will also be taken for the purpose.

The Commonwealth Express has 14 coaches, including five dedicated to sports and October 3-14 Games and six to IT.

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