Monday, May 3, 2010

Schoolkids to have a shorter summer break

Bad news for schoolchildren. With schools having to close during the Commonwealth Games in October, summer vacations will become shorter this year.

Most schools have decided to truncate the summer break by a week to accommodate the extra holidays from October 1 to 17 later this year. A shorter break in this extreme heat may not please students but there’s some relief in store. Schools may give less homework considering the duration of the vacations.

Lata Vaidyanathan, principal, Modern School, Barakhamba Road, said: ‘‘We have shortened the summer break by a week. Though we usually close down for summer from May 7 every year, this year we will break for vacation from May 15.’’

Schools have to close for more than two weeks during the Games. Since they close for Dussehra for a week or 10 days in October, they were required to accommodate an extra week of holiday in their academic calendar. ‘‘We are adjusting that extra week of holidays, in addition to the Dussehra break in October, by cutting down on the summer vacations,’’ said Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road, where vacations will start from May 16 instead of May 8 like last year.

Gyan Bharati School, Saket, is largely following the schedule provided by the government. It will close on May 15 and reopen on June 28.

‘‘The government has made it compulsory for all schools to shut down during the Games. So we are mostly following the calendar provided by them. They wanted schools to reopen on June 26 but as it is a Saturday, we will resume classes on June 28,’’ said director R C Shekhar.

Schools have to complete at least 210 working days in one academic session. So many schools are even keeping an option of extending or truncating the winter vacation depending on the weather.

L V Sehgal, principal, Bal Bharati School, Ganga Ram Hospital Marg, said: ‘‘We have shortened the summer vacations by six days. The winter break may get slightly shorter if the need arises.’’

Luxury fleet for Commonwealth Games delegates

A fleet of over 1,500 vehicles will be on the Capital's roads during the Commonwealth Games in October. Of this more than 500 hi-tech cars will be exclusively for important dignitaries. Well-trained security personnel will escort their cars.

The transportation arrangement plan for the movement of VIPs, international delegates and members of athletes' families during the Games has finally been worked out.

The organising committee of the Commonwealth Games 2010 has made this plan in accordance with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) regulations.

Lalit Bhanot, the secretary general of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, said, “The transportation requirements have been divided into two types — T1 and T2. The former being is for movement of one person while the latter is for more than one person.”

He said though the makes of vehicles to be used are yet to be decided, sources said some of the vehicles under the T2 category could be Ambassador cars as Delhi police are familiar with these cars and can handle security measures efficiently.

Besides, Mahindra Bolero, Toyota Qualis, Tata Sumo, Mahindra Scorpio cars and luxury AC buses and RTVs will also be used under the T2 category, says the report of the Commonwealth Games Evaluation Commission for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

“We will keep super luxury and some high profile state-of-the-art cars under the T1 category,” said Bhanot.

“Some of the vehicles will possibly be procured from the Tatas. We will finalise this by the end of this week,” said a senior OC official, wishing to remain anonymous.

The report said the Chef de Mission and general managers of the CGF teams might be provided with Corsa, Sonata and Ascent luxury cars.

Bhanot added: “We have requirements of 1,600 to 1,800 vehicles of which 500 odd vehicles will be under T1 category and with GPS and other security measures, while remaining vehicles will be kept under T2 category.”

VIPs including secretaries, presidents, and senior board members of the CGF will be provided with dedicated vehicles under T1 categories, while athletes’ family members and other members of the CGF will be given cars on request under T2 category, said the Games organising committee officials.

Delhi traffic chief Ajay Chadda said: “People under T1 category will get dedicated vehicles, while those under T2 category will get pick and drop facility. We will provide security to the VIPs and delegates who will use these cars during the Games.”

Kalmadi blasts Ministry order

With the Commonwealth Games merely 152 days away, there is a tussle for power between the National Sports Federations (NSFs) and the Union Sports Ministry. After a notification issued by the ministry on Sunday fixed the tenures of sports' top honchos, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi hit back, calling the regulation “an assault on the autonomy of the federations.”

Terming it “a draconian move”, a defiant Kalmadi said, “We're surprised at the ministry's attitude. We will take appropriate steps to preserve our autonomy.”

Kalmadi said that he had summoned the IOA Executive Committee on May 18 and might also convene a General Assembly to decide the course of action. Indicating that the regulation could not meddle with the affairs of the sporting bodies, Kalmadi said the IOA constitution was sent to the International Olympic Council (IOC). “All the NSFs also send their constitutions to their respective international bodies, so no one can interfere there either,” he said.

The IOA chief said he was caught unawares by the ministry's action at a time when the Coordination Committee (CoCom) of the Games was in the Capital. “We were hoping to make it their final visit and leave a good impression. The CoCom was surprised at the turn of events,” he said. KP Singh Deo, president of the Rowing Federation, also criticised the timing.

The IOA secretary-general, Randhir Singh, said the regulation had been forwarded to the IOC and the Olympic Council of Asia. “We are expecting a positive reply soon,” he said. The ministry had earlier announced a new regulation that limited the tenure of the federation presidents to 12 years, with or without break. Secretaries and treasurers can serve two terms of four years at a stretch and would have to take a four-year gap before standing for re-election. This miffed the chiefs of the NSFs, most of whom are also politicians and MPs.

The Archery Association of India president, VK Malhotra, All India Tennis Association chief Anil Khanna, Badminton Association chief VK Verma and others were also present. In a show of unity after their authority was challenged, all of them hit out at the regulation, using their own terms to label it undemocratic.

Jagdish Tytler, the Judo Federation chief, called it “completely unconstitutional” and said the ministry had done a disservice to sports in the country. Bhubaneshwar Kalita, Chef de Mission of the Indian contingent for the Games, called it “an infringement on the autonomy of the NSFs.”

Hitting out at claims that the new order would usher in transparency in the functioning of the IOA and NSFs, Kalmadi said, “The Sports Minister himself has given a letter to the court that all the federations have submitted their accounts to the Comptroller and Auditor General.” Taking pot shots at the Sports Minister, Verma said, “Those at the helm of affairs are themselves above 70 years,” much to the amusement of the other members.

Proposed: 17 new flyovers for Delhi

If you thought all construction activities in Delhi would come to an end after the Commonwealth Games in October this year, you are mistaken. Brace yourself for yet another round of digging from next year.

Delhi public works department (PWD) has prepared a long list of flyovers and elevated road projects “to improve movement of traffic in Delhi.” While Unified Traffic and Transport Infrastructure and Engineering Centre (UTTIPEC), the agency that approves road and infrastructure projects, has already cleared a few, some projects are still in the planning stage.

“Though we have constructed many flyovers, which have solved traffic problem in Delhi to some extent, there is scope to do more,” said Delhi PWD minister Rajkumar Chauhan.

Among other projects, the PWD is planning two new bridges over the river Yamuna. According to PWD officials, the volume of traffic coming from east Delhi has grown manifold in the past few years and is expected to grow more.

“The existing bridges are not enough to carry the huge volume,” a PWD engineer said. A string of flyovers along the 17-kilometre stretch of Outer Ring Road from Vikas Puri to Wazirabadare among 17 new projects the PWD is working on, the engineer said.

Kalamdi, NSFs refuse Sports Ministry's 'draconian' dictat

With just five months left for the Commonwealth Games to kick off, the stand-off between the Sports Ministry and the various National Federations (NSFs) took another dramatic turn when the top bosses of the sports bodies in the country challenged the authority of the Government to impose ''draconian'' restrictions over their functioning. Yesterday, the Sports Ministry had ruled that the heads of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and NSFs cannot remain in their posts for more than 12 years or beyond the age of 70.

But IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi, who came out in full strength with the top officials of the NSFs, today made it clear that the Ministry's directives will not be obeyed and said they would ''do everything to protect their autonymy.'' Kalamdi, who himself has been occupying the post of IOA chief for the last 14 years, said the timing of the directive was not right and the Sports Ministry does not have a right to derecognise any of the Federations or the IOA.

''It is the IOA which sends the team to Olympics, Commonwealth, Asian and South Asian Games as it is the one and not the Sports Ministry which receives the invites from the international body.

''As far as National Federations are concerned, they are a state subject and are affiliated and recognised by the International Sports Federations and the IOA,'' Kalmadi told mediapersons here.

''Just over 150 days are left for the Commonwealth Games to begin and the Co-ordination Commission is here. So, the timing of this directive from the Sports Ministry is just not correct and it will send a very wrong message to the world,'' he noted.

DPR of Metro's third phase submitted to UD Ministry

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has prepared a detailed project report for the proposed 84-km third phase of the Metro rail and submitted it to the Union Urban Development Ministry, DMRC Chairman M Ramachandran said here today.

Talking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the 16th Foundation Day celebrations of the Delhi Metro this evening, Mr Ramachandran, who is also the Secretary in Urban Development Ministry, said the routes to be taken up under the third phase will be decided in the coming weeks.

The third phase is proposed to link the Ring Road with the metro network and will not include any NCR areas.

When asked about the possibility of any delay in the completion of the second phase before the Commonwealth Games, he said, ''On the basis of the track record of Delhi Metro, we are confident that the second phase will be completed well before the Games.'' In reply to a question on the likelihood of DMRC going in for IPO, he did not dismiss it entirely and said it could be thought about but first, other tasks at hand were more important like the expansion of the Metro network.

Meanwhile, at the Foundation Day ceremony, Dilshad Garden station was given the Best Station Award.

98 labour inspections done at CWG sites in 2010

As many as 98 labour inspections have been carried out at various Commonwealth Games (CWG) work sites to ensure that workers’ rights were being protected, Minister of State for Labour and Employment Harish Rawat Monday said.

“Labour inspectors carried out a number of inspections at CWG sites to check violations by various government, private agencies and contractors during the last three years and cases have been registered against the defaulters,” Rawat said in the Lok Sabha.

“In 2010, 98 inspections were carried out at the sites and 68 prosecution cases filed,” he added.

In 2008, the number of inspections carried out were 320 and cases filed were 302. In 2009 there were 560 inspections and 457 prosecution cases filed, the minister said.

In March this year, a report on the condition of labourers at Commonwealth Games sites was submitted by a high-level committee appointed by the Delhi High Court after it visited sites over a period of one month.

Reacting to the report, a division bench of acting Chief Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Mukta Gupta said: “Rights of these persons should be protected.”

Rawat said: “Under the Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, 26,340 construction workers have been registered till date who are entitled to various welfare schemes.”

Young Indian team aimed for Commonwealth, Asian Games

India dumped some of its most experienced players for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and assistant coach Harender Singh conceded that the Delhi Commonwealth Games and Guangzhou Asian Games were of higher priority for the team, which resulted in such drastic measures.

Drag-flickers Sandeep Singh and Diwakar Ram and goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza were axed from the 18-member Indian squad after their below-par performance in the World Cup earlier this year.

Veteran strikers Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur were not even considered in the probables for the May 6-16 at Ipoh, Malaysia.

Defending Champions India arrived for the tournament with 10 players from their World Cup squad and Harender admitted that a title win here is not the top agenda for the team.

''We have a mix of youth and experience for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. We will try our best to win but the main thing is to gauge the players and see how they will fit into our structure for the coming big assignments,'' Harender said.

''We have a bigger pool of trainees and the idea in the initial stage is to allow more young players to join the team in friendly tournaments to gain experience. That is why we have fringe players and several newcomers in the squad for the tournament in Ipoh.'' he added.

Among the players who will make their debut in the tournament are Amit Prabhaker, Rupinder Pal Singh and Ravi Pal.

In Vikas Pillay, who has four Test matches under his belt, and Mandin Antil with seven caps from the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last year, India has a relatively inexperienced side, which makes their title defence much more difficult.

Mid-fielder Prabodh Tirkey will make a return to the team along with goalkeeper Barat Chetri, who was last seen in action in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) in December. Dhananjay Mahadik, who has 31 caps and showed his mettle in the India's eighth-place finish at the World Cup, has been given another chance to prove himself. ''There are some very good teams in the fray and we are looking forward to playing in this tournament. ''It will be good tests for us. There is no pressure on the players to win the title. We want them to enjoy their outings in Ipoh,'' he said.

After the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, India will head to Hamburg for a four-nation tournament. There are several Test matches lined up for India against England and Spain before going to Australia in July.

India will play a friendly match today against the Malaysian juniors starting at the Azlan Shah Stadium.

India are four-time champions in this tournament having won the title in 1985, 1991, 1995 and 2009.

Kalmadi guarantees CoCom members of significant development

The Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (CGOC), Suresh Kalmadi, on Monday assured the members of the Coordination Commission (CoCom) of the Commonwealth Games Federation that significant progress has been made in all areas towards successfully hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The committee would itself witness the considerable progress in all areas since their last visit in December 2009, said Kalmadi in his inaugural address at the opening session of the CoCom meeting here, chaired by its President Austin Sealy.

"A lot of progress has taken place since the previous CoCom visit. The city of Delhi will be ahead by 10 years in terms of modern state of the art infrastructure and stadiums," said Kalmadi.

"I am thankful for all the support and guidance that CoCom has extended to our team and their pledge to continue to support the organising committee in successful organisation of Delhi Games," he added.

Kalmadi further said Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has showing interest in the build-up to the Games and had organised the meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) to take stock of the entire efforts.

Austin Sealy praised the efforts of Kalmadi and said: "I have toured the venues including the main press centre and broadcasting centre and found them good."

Earlier in December last year, the seven-member CoCom delegation had reviewed New Delhi's preparation for the mega event.

India's CWG boss, Suresh Kalmadi, told his time is up India's long-serving Olympic chief Suresh Kalmadi was on Monday given a government deadline to

India's CWG boss, Suresh Kalmadi, told his time is up

India's long-serving Olympic chief Suresh Kalmadi was on Monday given a government deadline to quit, prompting criticism exactly five months before the country hosts the Commonwealth Games.

The sports ministry ruled that heads of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and national sports federations cannot remain in their posts for more than 12 years or beyond the age of 70.

Kalmadi, the chief organiser of the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, has served as the IOA president for 14 years and turned 66 on Saturday.

But the ministry has allowed Kalmadi and other sports chiefs to complete their current tenures, ensuring there is no break in preparations for the Commonwealth Games.

Kalmadi, whose current term ends in 2012, declined to comment on the sports ministry's diktat, but other officials slammed the move.

"It is a ridiculous decision," said opposition lawmaker Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who has headed the country's archery federation for 31 years.

"It makes no sense. People have served in parliament for 30 years, many of our ministers are above 70, so why this rule only for sports officials?"

Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill, a former chief election commissioner, defended the decision to limit sports chiefs' tenures.

"This order will serve the best interest of sportspersons of the country and it will give an impetus to transparent and professional management of Indian sports in the new century," Gill said in a statement.

Former stars, like athlete Milkha Singh, welcomed the regulations.

"It is a step in the right direction, it should have happened much earlier," said Singh. "It will lead to better people joining the federations and that can only be good for sports."

Politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen have often been accused of turning sports federations into their personal fiefdoms, holding on to their posts for years to remain in the spotlight.

Former sports minister Sukhdev Dhindsa has headed the cycling federation for 14 years; bureaucrat V.K. Verma has run the badminton association for 12 years and businessman B.S. Adityan has been volleyball chief for 12 years.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India, the richest sports body in the country, has a fixed tenure of three years for its president. The present incumbent Shashank Manohar is a lawyer.

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