Thursday, April 22, 2010

Commonwelath Games, Delhi Metro suck half of urban development funds

Just two projects – the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the Delhi Metro railway – both based in one city have sucked up over half of this year's Plan budget for the Union Ministry of Urban Development.

In its report on the Ministry's demands for grants submitted to the Lok Sabha, the Ministry's standing committee has expressed “disappointment” that of the total budgetary allocation (Plan) of Rs.5457.84 crore for this financial year, about 54 per cent of the funds were allocated to these two projects.

While accepting that some enhanced funding was necessary, the Committee asked “whether the Ministry would be in a position to do justice to the other equally significant issues with hardly any funds in hand”.

As an example, the Committee pointed out that the funding for the ‘Water supply and sanitation' head has dropped from Rs.191.25 crore in 2004-05 to nil this year, as last year's unused funds of Rs.12.56 crore have just been carried forward. Several urban infrastructure funds have also dropped or seen only a marginal increase, prompting the Committee to observe that such issues were not being given requisite priority.

With regard to the Delhi Metro projects, the Committee recommended that the government speed up the process to start production of Metro Rail coaches within the country itself. The Committee also pulled up the government for poor implementation of the scheme to develop infrastructure in satellite towns around seven mega-cities.

Delhi Government nod for new transport projects -ISBT Kashmere Gate to get a facelift ahead of Games

ISBT Kashmere Gate to get a facelift ahead of Games

The Delhi Government's Expenditure Finance Committee on Thursday gave its nod for two projects of the Transport Department worth Rs.86.83 crore at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and attended by Finance Minister A.K. Walia and Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely among others.

While one of the projects involves giving a facelift to ISBT Kashmere Gate, the other pertains to constructing a semi-permanent building at a DTC parking lot for Commonwealth Games that is coming up near Indraprastha Power Station on Ring Road. Following the meeting, Ms. Dikshit said in view of the Commonwealth Games it has been decided to give a facelift to Kashmere Gate ISBT. The first phase of the project would be taken up immediately and would be completed by September 2010 at a cost of Rs.74.16 crore.

As a large number of passengers would be using ISBT Kashmere Gate during the Commonwealth Games, the need was felt to upgrade the existing facilities there. As part of the first phase of the facelift, the funds would be utilised towards civil work, sanitation, modern water supply system, fire-fighting, solar lighting and power management.

The Committee also sanctioned Rs.12.67 crore for construction of a semi-permanent building at the DTC parking lot for the Commonwealth Games that is coming up on the fly-ash pond near the IP Power Station on Ring Road.

The meeting was informed that the construction of the parking project is under way and the new semi-permanent structure would be used for providing other facilities. Since this parking site is located between the Commonwealth Games Village on the banks of the Yamuna and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main venue for the Games, it would be used for parking buses that would be used for ferrying the players and officials to and from these two Games venues.

Rehabilitate slum dwellers

The issue of displacement of poor and downtrodden and demolition of slums in Delhi to facilitate construction activity for the Commonwealth Games was raised in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

Independent Member from West Bengal Tarun Mandal, raising the issue during the zero hour, quoted media reports to state that 358 families had been evicted after the slums near the Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station were demolished and said there was no plan to rehabilitate or compensate them. He alleged that human rights of these people were being violated and wanted the government to provide benefits to the affected families.

Delhi gets some additional power

The Capital on Thursday managed to get 100 MW of power from the unallocated quota of the Centre. It also got an assurance that there would be no shortage of power during the Commonwealth Games in October.

The Capital had earlier been left out of the Centre's unallocated quota for April. However, the unexpected surge in power demand caused by a sudden rise in temperature helped the city change the Centre's earlier decision. On Wednesday Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit met Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and apprised him of the city's power demand. She sought more power for the city in view of the rise in temperature and peak demand.

“Mr. Shinde instructed his Ministry to immediately release an additional 100 MW power to Delhi,” said a Delhi Government official.

The Chief Minister also made a reference to the non-availability of power from the Damodar Valley Corporation and the efforts the city discoms have to make to fill that gap. She pointed out that had power from the DVC arrived as per schedule, Delhi would have received more than 837 MW as against the current 40 MW. She expressed concern over delay in the commissioning of the Bawana and Jhajjar plants.

While Delhi is already getting 750 MW from Dadri-I and 425 MW from Dadri-II, it is hoping to get another 440 MW from Dadri-III from July 2010 onward.

Ms. Dikshit also insisted that the Union Power Ministry ensures proper discipline as far as overdrawal of power from the Northern Grid by various States is concerned. She pointed out that because of overdrawal by the States, under-frequency relay operations were frequent and caused power disruption in the city.

She also put forth the details of the procurement by the discoms, which have had to arrange power up to 1,000 MW from different sources. Mr. Shinde was informed that while Delhi's own generation was 1,100 MW, about 2,000 MW is being received from allocated quota. “Ms. Dikshit informed the Minister that the arrangements are inadequate to meet the city's demand that has shot up by over 20 per cent. She also requested that Delhi consumers should not be put to any inconvenience,” he said.

Mr. Shinde asked the State Government to strengthen its capacitor system to handle additional sanctioned power from the Central quota and asked the discoms to make arrangements for booking inter-regional corridor capacity to ensure transmission of power to Delhi.

On Thursday the city's peak demand for power rose up to 4,110 MW.

Durban vs Delhi - Commonwealth Games

With the Commonwealth Games around the corner, HT City compares Delhi with Durban, South Africa.

Bigger stadium
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Lodhi Road, that will be inaugurated for the Commonwealth Games, has a capacity of 78,000 — more than Durban’s.

Nice design
The teapot-shaped Moses Mabhida stadium will host one of the semi-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It has a planned capacity of 70,000.

No fine dining lane
There’s no single place with a large number of fine dining restaurants and cafes sticking together. Khan Market has possibilities, but the window views there are so blah.

Amazing food street
Durban’s Florida Road is a dense locality of restaurants and cafes offering various cuisines, with options for alfresco dining.Delhi has nothing like it.

Great public transport
Delhi’s DTC is adding more AC buses to its fleet. The autos are very airy, though one has to haggle over charges. The Metro, too, is world class.

Not full marks
Public transport in Durban is bad. The bus system is creeky. The cabs are unsafe. Not many use the rail to commute and Durban has no Metro.

Dangerous city
Called India’s rape capital, Delhi is a dangerous city for women. Still, unlike in Durban, you can at least walk on the streets without fear of being mugged.

Very dangerous city
Crime is high in Durban. Mugging, car break-ins and nabbing at gunpoint are common. The beaches may be safe during the day, but definitely not at night.

No water kingdom
Delhi’s water life sucks. The Yamuna stinks. The river looks black with the city’s sewage and chemical discharge.

Exciting sea life
At the Shaka Marine World, you can enjoy dolphin, seal and penguin shows. Besides, The Golden Mile beach is a surfer’s haven.

Attack alerts in Delhi hit plans to stage Commonwealth Games

Britain, the US and other Western governments have warned of imminent terrorist plans to attack commercial targets in Delhi in the latest setback for India’s plans to host the Commonwealth Games in October.

Travel advice issued by Western embassies in the past two days contained an unusually specific warning that six popular markets and shopping districts in Delhi were likely to be targeted.

“At this time there are increased indications that terrorists are planning attacks in Delhi,” said the warning on the website of the British High Commission.

“Terrorists have targeted places in the past which Westerners are known to visit. Markets such as those in Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Karol Bagh, Mehrauli and Sarojini Nagar may be especially attractive targets.”

Chandni Chowk is in the heart of old Delhi and one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Connaught Place is in the commercial centre and also a major draw for foreign visitors. The other places listed are popular shopping areas for tourists and wealthier Indians.

The last majorbig attack in Delhi was a series of bomb blasts in busy, upmarket shopping areas in September 2008 that killed 22 people and wounded 100 more. Sarojini Nagar was also bombed in 2005.

The upgraded travel warnings come as India tries to convince the world that it can provide sufficient security for the Commonwealth Games, which are expected to draw 8,000 foreign athletes and officials and 100,000 spectators.

India plans to deploy 4,000 army troops to help to protect them, as well as tens of thousands of police but many Commonwealth athletes and sports officials are concerned that security infrastructure for the Games is months behind schedule.

They were also worried by two low-intensity bombs that detonated at a cricket stadium in the southern city of Bangalore before an Indian Premier League game last week.

In February a bomb ripped through a crowded restaurant popular with travellers in the western city of Pune, killing 16 people, including five foreigners.

At IGI, a long wait to head back home

As operations to European countries resumed after being disrupted for almost a week due to volcanic ash, all that the tourists at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport wanted was to “go home”.

With the Capital counting days before it hosts the Commonwealth Games, most tourists stranded at the IGI, irked with poor facilities and assistance offered by the airlines and airport staff, were unsure of revisiting India.

Tomazo (20), a chef in Italy, waited endlessly with his friend Leno (20), to board the next flight after a month and a half of travel.

“We visited Agra, Hardwar, Mumbai and Pune. That was fun but the last few days have been frustrating. I am going to rethink if I want to revisit India,” Tomazo said. “We are stranded at the airport since Monday. Our air tickets were cancelled twice. We spend the entire day at the airport and go to a hotel in the night to sleep.”

Tomazo said when they approached the Airport Authority of India for help, they were asked to move out of the premises.

“When we have any such situation back home, the airport authority provides free food vouchers. Here, the authorities asked us to go to a hotel. We understand their situation but we expect them to be at least polite. They should not behave like this with tourists,” added Leno, a social worker.

Other passengers also seemed to be braving the situation. Maira Benicio (28), who lives in Spain, was stranded at the airport for the last six days. “I wanted to use the internet to find out status of the flight but the internet and banking facilities are inside the airport. Without a valid ticket nobody can enter the waiting lounge and access these facilities,” she rued.

Maira, a BPO executive, was here with her boyfriend Fernando (30).

“One of our friends from Chile, who left last night, told us they were asked to pay Rs 30 to charge their mobile phone at the visitors lounge by certain persons near the counter. We have to even pay for drinking water here,” Fernando claimed.

Teresa Ma, a dentist from Canada, was among many passengers who were disappointed with the functioning of airlines. “I had booked a ticket with Jet Airways for April 20. They did not inform me about the cancellations. I have called them many times for my ticket status but was only provided inaccurate information. I have now booked a new ticket for tonight with Cathay Pacific,” she said.

Maira added, “Despite knowing our situation, the Gulf Air officials did not treat us with compassion. As far as revisiting India is concerned, I am not planning to come again for at least a few years. I just want to go back home.”

DIAL offers help
In a statement, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) has said it has advised airlines to guide stranded passengers to avail food on subsidised rates at the staff canteen located at the ground floor of the airport. Free drinking water is also available at this location, it added. DIAL has also set up a special help desk near Gate no 2 to inform and guide passengers, the statement read.

Want venues month before Commonwealth Games: cops

The Delhi Police wants control of all Commonwealth Games venues one month before the event starts on October 3 to conduct security drills, checks and rehearsals for thousands of police personnel to be deployed.

The slow pace at which work is going on at present could, though, play spoilsport if the projects are not ready on time.

Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said, “We have made all arrangements and are ready. In fact, we recently provided security successfully for the trial games, hockey World Cup and the IPL matches in Delhi. The process of recruiting 12,000 police officials for the Games is almost over and they will be deployed in June or July.”

Giving details of security arrangements for the Games, a senior officer told Newsline that besides the 12,000 new recruits, the police would deploy its whole force of 74,000 personnel during the Games. Besides, about 170 companies of central paramilitary forces and reserve forces would also be deployed.

An officer said the police gave details and demonstration of security arrangements to the Games Federation in four meetings held in the past, as also to representatives of various Commonwealth countries who came here recently to inspect the arrangements.

“The plan was appreciated by all representatives,” the officer said.

According to the officer, there would be a four-layered protection — outer, middle, inner, and exclusive security zones — at the stadiums, practice venues, parking lots and hotels of athletes, as also the airport.

Based on security inputs, the police have identified 500 vital installations and sites in Delhi as ‘sensitive’ to terror attacks.

Eagle eyes on...
* Games Village
* 12 competition venues
* 15 standalone practice venues
* Over 50 standalone parking sites
* 9 hotels where dignitaries would stay
* Central logistical centres on Mathura Road
* Media centre at Pragati Maidan

Gunners without the guns

The past few months have been replete with instances of ‘test events’ being conducted at venues that were inaugurated before completion and which gave little home advantage to Indian sportspersons preparing for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

Now, we have an event at a venue that is prim, proper and much closer to final shape, but which puts Indian competitors in a fix nevertheless. The ongoing Commonwealth shooting championship for full bore events at the Kadarpur ranges here has seen the local camp loaded with ammunition but no guns to use them.

Thus, it is no surprise that the likes of Praveen Dahiya and Amit Khanna are happy to be just participating at this level.
“We have had Indians competing with guns borrowed from other participants. In such a scenario, we can’t expect much more than participation,” informs TS Dhillon, the National Rifle Association of India’s (NRAI) technical expert as well as the Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) coordinator.

Dhillon, who helped plan and construct the range, takes pride in the fact that it is being acclaimed as one of the better ones the world over and with several firsts.

“We not only have electronic targets but also moveable ones, which means that the targets can be adjusted rather than shooters moving (on the one kilometre range) to convert it for a shorter competition like the 900 metres or 600 metres event,” says Dhillon.

But he also realises that it has little significance for Indian sport because full bore events are not part of multi-discipline events like the Olympics and the Asian Games. India like most other countries, do not believe in investing in these events but had to build the venue as it is a part of the Commonwealth Games.
The Rs50 crore or so that have been spent on it have ensured an immaculate facility, but after the Commonwealth Games in October, it may be used only for practice by paramilitary forces.

“It is for the CRPF to make use of the facility as the property belongs to them. The complex at the venue could serve well as a clubhouse or whatever they decide to use it for,” says Dhillon.

Pacific MMI confirms Commonwealth Games sponsorship

Pacific MMI has confirmed their sponsorship of Team Papua New Guinea during the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

The US$20,000 deal is separate to the company's previous sponsorship of insurance cover for the 123-strong PNG team.

Deputy chairperson of the PNG Athletes Commission, Mona-Lisa Leka said, "This kind of initiative from the corporate sector is greatly appreciated and shows their support and interest in business, and the wider community as a whole."

The general manager of Pacific MMI, Laurens Van Der Gaag, added: "As the largest 100 per cent nationally operated insurance company in the country, this is just part of several social obligations we as a company are committed to. From the basic grassroots level right through to the elite sportsperson, we understand that these things need money, and Pacific MMI is happy to be a part of this. More importantly, all the best to the team going to Delhi, take pride in representing your country."

The 2010 Commonwealth Games begin 3rd October in Delhi, India.

No power shortage during Commonwealth Games: Shinde

Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde Thursday assured Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit that there would be no shortage of power during the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games (CWG).

Shinde also ordered an immediate release of 100 MW power to the national capital in view of the high power demand this season.

Dikshit met Shinde and informed him about the increase in power demand in the city because of the high temperatures this year. Dikshit requested him to intervene in sanctioning additional power to Delhi to overcome the situation arising from the unprecedented heat wave in the city.

Shinde assured that maximum power would be made available to Delhi from Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) during CWG and stated that there would be no shortage of power.

Dikshit insisted that the union power ministry ensure proper discipline as far as overdrawing of power by different states is concerned.

The Delhi (power) distribution companies arranged power up to 1,000 MW from different sources. Apart from this, our own generation is 1,100 MW and 2,000 MW and is being received from an allocated quota. However, this is not sufficient to take care of the needs of Delhi, said an official statement. The peak demand crossed the 4,100 MW-mark Thursday.

Shinde requested the city government to strengthen its capacitor system to handle additional sanctioned power from the central quota, the statement added.

back to top