Saturday, April 24, 2010

Activists hit the road to save stray dogs

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

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

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

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

MCD facelift for markets near rly station, Red Fort

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

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

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

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

Queen's Baton to arrive in India on June 25

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

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

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

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

Guernsey hosts debut Commonwealth Games meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Varanasi tourism hopes to capitalise on Delhi Commonwealth Games

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

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

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

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

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

SA hockey teams doubtful for CWG 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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