Friday, May 7, 2010

Courtesy CW Games,Paying Guest(PG)s get costlier

Living in a paying guest (PG) accommodation in the Capital just got costlier by more than Rs 1,000 per month and students blame the Commonwealth Games for it.

Owners, it seems, are eyeing tourists and hostelers, who would have to vacate their rooms during the Games. Hostels of Delhi University (DU) and Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) will be used to accommodate guests during the Games.

“Our landlord has increased the prices, as he is eyeing tourists who will be in the city for the Commonwealth Games,” said a student of St Stephen’s College, requesting anonymity.

“One of our hostels is closing down for renovation ahead of the Games and we have no option but to pay the exorbitant rent,” she added.

The hike ranges from Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 depending on the area (an increase of between 10 and 25 per cent).

“The landlord of the PG where I stay hiked the rent from Rs 5,500 to Rs 6,500 per month for a triple-seater room. He is eyeing the more lucrative option of renting rooms to tourists during the Games,” laments Teena Jha, a working woman.

But PG accommodation owners have a different story to tell. “We have no other choice. Prices are on the rise and we need to keep up,” said Amit Kumar, who is increasing the rent by Rs 1,500 per month (from Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,500) for a twin-sharing room at his Roop Nagar (near North Campus) accommodation.

The hike is highest in areas close to the DU's North Campus, where demand is more due to proximity to colleges. The minimum hike here is Rs 1,000 per month.

“Rates of electricity, food and diesel have gone up. We have generator sets that consume diesel. Load-shedding has made it imperative for us to increase rental rates,” said Mrs Sethi, who did not reveal her full name.

She owns an air-conditioned PG accommodation in Roop Nagar where a twin sharing room, which used to cost Rs 10,000 per person earlier, now costs Rs 11,000 per month.

Come June, when the new college session starts, the rates are expected to increase further.

“We are charging Rs 7,000 per month currently, but prices will go up by Rs 1,500 once the new session begins,” said Sunny, who refused to reveal his full name.

The accommodation is located in South Extension Part-I and food is not included in expenses.

College hostels charge students anything between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 per annum. Food is included in the expenditure.

In areas like South Extension and Lajpat Nagar, which are popular with college students and single working women, the average rate for a PG accommodation till a few months ago was between Rs 4,500 and Rs 6,000 per month.

The average rent now is between Rs 5,500 and Rs 7,500 per month.

New traffic system will miss CommonWealth Games

It was supposed to help Delhi lessen its perennial problem of traffic congestion but the Intelligent Traffic System (ITS) the Delhi traffic police had promised before the Commonwealth Games this October is nowhere in sight.

The Rs 200-crore project of having the intelligent traffic system in 275 places in the city by May this year is more than one-and-half-years away — the police have not even floated tenders for the same.

“We can’t even start the installation process before the Commonwealth Games. We are opening tenders on May 31. The process will take a few months and I hope we can at least start the installation process after the Games,” said Ajay Chadha, special commissioner of police (traffic), told Hindustan Times.

“We will need at least one and half years after the installation and by December 2011, the ITS should be operational in 275 identified signals.”

Under the proposed ITS map, 275 traffic signals in New Delhi, Mathura Road, Delhi-Gurgaon highway (NH 8), Delhi-Noida highway would be covered and CCTV cameras installed at every point to monitor traffic movement and also identify traffic violators.

In order to tackle problems of congestion, accidents, inefficient logistics amongst other problems, the Delhi police had planned to develop a state-of-the-art traffic and communication network in the NCR by putting in place the ITS.

The system would also incorporate various existing sub-systems like Area traffic Control System, Traffic Monitoring System, Traffic Signals, Variable Message Signs, Speed Camera Systems, among others.

According to a senior police officer, who did not wish to be named, as he isn’t authorised to speak to media, said: “The plan was made at least two years ago keeping in view the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Accordingly, a route map was designed covering 55 major roads, measuring 217.96 km and about 200 intersections to be covered under the system, which could provide better solutions for traffic management.”

P.K. Sarkar, professor, School of Planning and Architecture, Department of Transport Planning, said at least partial installation of the ITS would have helped minimise traffic congestion during the Games.

“I was quite happy about the innovative plan of the Delhi police when I heard about it two years ago. I do not know why the department could not start the process,” he added.

Court gives nod to Delhi low cost housing project

The Delhi High Court Friday gave a green signal to the Delhi government to go ahead with the project under the Rajiv Ratna Awas Yojna housing scheme for slum dwellers in Kanhjawla village near Delhi.

The court had earlier stayed the project after a petition was filed by Joginder Singh, a villager of Kanjhawala, who alleged that the land belonged to the “Gaon Sabha” (village council) and the state government did not have any right over it.

Singh submitted that the panchayat has absolute control over the land and contended that the city government had not held the panchayat election for more than 15 years.

A division bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Ajit Bharihoke, however, turned down the villager’s plea and asked the farmers to make a proper representation before the Delhi lt governot for seeking any other relief.

Terming the entire capital as a metropolitan area, the bench said: “It is not in dispute that elections to the municipal corporation have been held from time to time. The petitioners and similarly situated persons have had an opportunity to elect municipal councillors. The question, thus, arises that having elected municipal councillors, whether the petitioners and other such members of the village are further entitled to have an elected panchayat? In our considered view, the answer to this question is in the negative.”

“The petitioners cannot be said to have a right to participate and vote for two different fora of local self government,” the court said.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi had inaugurated the project and assured the people that the central government would give Rs.1,500 crore towards making cheap houses available to poorer sections in the capital.

The Delhi government had vowed to resolve the housing crisis before the Commonwealth Games in October and had proposed this scheme to provide houses to the poor people in the city.

Commonwealth Games train to chug in June

With the Commonwealth Games barely five months away, Railways will launch a special exhibition train in June to mark the countdown to the sporting extravaganza in the capital.

The train will comprise 14 coaches bringing alive the sports and Commonwealth Games in its varied hues along with itinerary of the sporting event which begins on October 3.

The train will begin its three-month journey from Safdarjung station in the capital and come back here after travelling the country covering about 50 to 60 stations.

Its itinerary has been prepared coinciding with the Commonwealth Games baton relay and it will touch the places through which the baton will pass.

The ministry has waived off operational charges accrued during its journey.

"The train will be dedicated to the themes of youth, sports and information technology," said an official in the Railways, adding, through this train Railway Ministry will seek to inculcate interest in sports across the country.

"Indian Railways, with its strong national presence, is the best medium for spreading this kind of message to every nook and corner of the country and hence the idea of running the special train," he said.

The train will run for about three months across the country, starting and terminating in Delhi.

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee had announced the launch of this special train in her Budget speech this year.

The Ministry of Railways and Department of Information Technology are closely coordinating the project.

The train will also showcase the achievements of the Indian Railways in the field of sports.

"The train shall be representative of the synergy between Railways and sports during the time of Commonwealth Games," the official said.

The train will also exhibit IT-related services like maintaining of birth and death records and land records.

DDA lost Rs 150 cr on C'wealth Games Village project: CAG

Apex auditor CAG today said the Delhi Development Authority incurred losses of over Rs 150 crore in its dealings with Emaar MGF Construction, the developer of residences at the Commonwealth Games Village.

The CAG, in a report tabled in Parliament, said DDA gave a bailout package to the fund-starved developer on the plea that the project was of national prestige, even though the PPP agreement did not provide for any financial assistance.

"DDA provided a 'bailout package' of Rs 766.89 crore to the developer... by purchasing 333 number of apartments... ignoring the recommendation of the evaluation committee constituted by DDA, resulting in avoidable expenditure of Rs 89.24 crore," the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said.

As per the agreement, the financing risk was with the developer, who was responsible for arranging funds, the CAG noted.

Furthermore, the DDA also allowed the developer to construct on an excess floor area of 4,40,301 square feet without recovering the proportionate fee of Rs 65.23 crore, the auditor said.

"Scrutiny of records revealed that the developer had actually constructed 26,06,878 sq ft floor area (instead of 21,66,577 sq ft)," CAG said, adding that an upfront amount of Rs 65.23 crore should have been recovered for the additional floor area.

Kenya to send 250-strong contingent to Commonwealth Games

Kenya will send 250 athletes and officials to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi this year, Xinhua reported Friday.

National Olympic Committee chairman Kipchoge Keino ruled out withdrawing the Kenyan team from the competition, saying they are satisfied with the security arrangements.

This follows concerns that Delhi remains a possible terror target during the games.

Keino announced several measures, including sending Kenyan policemen to boost security of the team in India.

"We are taking along several police and intelligence officers to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games in October," said Keino.

He said between six and 10 officers will accompany the team. More than 8,000 athletes from 71 nations are due to compete in India.

Last month, the US issued a warning to its citizens about possible militant attacks on hotels and markets in India.

Britain and Australia have also issued travel advisories to their citizens.

Delhi to have 15000 radio cabs before CWG 2010

It will be a smooth ride for tourists and citizens during the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi as Delhi government estimates that around 15,000 radio taxis will be on the roads by October.

"There is no hurdle to obtain licences (to operate radio taxis). Anyone who fulfils the conditions can get it without difficulty. In fact, we are encouraging people to travel in DTC buses and radio cabs instead of using personal vehicles," Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said on Friday.

"15,000 radio cabs will be in operation before the Commonwealth Games which will offer a safe transport mode to people. We encourage the modern system having facilities like GPS, computerised billing among others," he said.

Earlier, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit flagged off a new radio taxi service 'YO Cabs'.

"We are launching our operations with a fleet of 100 cars. But we aim to raise the number to 1000 before the Games. Right now we have received licences to operate 500 cabs," Prabjit Singh, promoter of JAS Cabs Private Limited, said.

The cars are equipped with facilities like GPS and printers so that the vehicles can be monitored continuously and the customers can avail automatic billing.

The taxi service will be available round-the-clock in the NCR region and Delhi. The charge is Rs 15 per km.

"The drivers are trained, especially on how to behave with customers and have the knowledge of basic English. To ensure safety, their backgrounds have been thoroughly verified," Singh said.

India's Commonwealth Games prospects bright: Bhupathi

Indian tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi has said that India have bright prospects in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.

Talking to reporters here on Thursday, Bhupathi said: "India have bright prospects in the Games and players have begun preparing for the upcoming sporting extravaganza to be held in New Delhi."

"I think it''s exciting for all of us the fact that Commonwealth Games is in India. So we are all excited. Obviously we want to win as many medals as we possibly can and still a few months away, so everyone is getting prepared," he added.

He also said that India has bright future with players like Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri.

" For a long time India made the world group in Davis Cup after many, many years. So I think things are moving in the right direction. Hopefully, Somdev can break into top 100. I know he is very close now. So we have got a very solid doubles team that will continue for a while. So I think things are looking good," added Bhupathi.

New Delhi is preparing to host over 100,000 foreign visitors during the Commonwealth Games to be held on October 3-14 this year.

CCTVs made mandatory in guest houses approved for Commonwealth Games

To ensure foolproof security during the Commonwealth Games, close circuit televisions (CCTVs) have been made mandatory in approved guest houses here, the government said today.

"Efforts have been made to address the security concerns in the guidelines for approval of guest houses. CCTVs have been made mandatory in approved guest houses," minister of state for Tourism Sultan Ahmed said in reply to a written question in Lok Sabha.

He said, under the guidelines, the requirement of guest houses is minimum six rooms and for "Bed & Breakfast Scheme" the minimum of one and maximum of six rooms.

The antecedents of the owners of the B&B establishments are also verified before granting approval, he said.

The ministry has also introduced guidelines for setting up tented accommodation, he said.

India have good prospects in CWG

Tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi says India have bright prospects in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and players have begun preparing for the upcoming sporting extravaganza to be held in New Delhi.

"It's really exciting that India is hosting the Commonwealth Games. We will try to get as many medals as possible. There are still a few days left for this, preparation for the big event is going on in full swing," Bhupathi said in Kolkata during the inauguration of his roof-top tennis academy, made at a height of 117 feet atop a shopping mall.

Bhupathi further said India have bright future in Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri.

"We have two good singles players in Somdev Dev Burman and Yuki Bhambri. Somdev is ranked 109 and very close to enter into the first 100. Yuki is a kid, really. But he has already improved remarkably. And in doubles, we have almost an unbeaten partnership! So, that augurs well for our chances in Davis Cup."

Bhupathi's tennis academy - the highest in India - is the first of its kind in not only Kolkata but also in India.

"We have an academy at the 1st floor of a building in Bangalore. But to have it on the 6th floor is something I could not resist", said Bhupathi.

Developed in association with Bengal Peerless, the tennis academy is spread across 28,000 square feet area on the roof top of the Axis Building in Rajarhat, Newtown. Both Mahesh and the sponsors confirmed that the academy will boast of international standards.

Kolkata has always been a city, close to his heart because he had made his Davis Cup debut here, said Mahesh.

"So, I was always keen to do something for the city. And I am happy that we could do so. The academy will start in a couple of months and I sincerely hope kids from here will at least be national champions in the next 5-6 years", he said.

The academy is designed as a recreational health facility, too. It will also have a state-of-art gymnasium and Yoga Centre.

What will be the criteria to join the academy? Mahesh said, "Kids with rackets in their hand! It's basically done to grow their interest levels and those who will prove to be special, will be taken to my high-performance academy in Bangalore where they will be focusing only on tennis and nothing else."

Before the French Open, Mahesh will be going to Madrid to play a preparatory tournament.

For Mahesh, the news that Sania Mirza had begun practicing tennis after her marriage is really a good news. "I've heard that she is on court again. So, that's good for Indian tennis followers."

And the tennis-ace, who is addicted to Twitter, was really happy to welcome the maestro of Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, too. "He has joined a day before and already had more than 75,000 followers. I think in a few days he will have a million, surely. That's what Sachin Tendulkar is", Mahesh signed off.

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