Friday, June 4, 2010

Former Pune corporator killed at Games headquarters

A former corporator of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) was killed in a freak incident at the Organising Committee (OC) Commonwealth Games headquarters on Jai Singh Road here on Thursday.

Fifty-six-year-old Sambhaji Naik had gone to the headquarters to meet the personal secretary to the Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi around 9-30 p.m. when the frame of a stage collapsed and fell on him causing serious head injuries.

“When Sambhaji reached the headquarters preparations were being made for a function in connection with the launch of the Commonwealth Games tickets on Friday. The labourers had erected a several feet high frame to build a stage. While Sambhaji was talking to someone on the phone at the reception, the frame suddenly collapsed and hit him on the head. He sustained serious injuries and was taken to Lohia Hospital where he died around midnight,” said a senior police officer. The body was handed over to the relatives after a post-mortem. The police have registered a case of negligence at the Connaught Place police station in this connection.Mr. Naik had come to the Capital on Thursday to meet the Indian Olympic Association president. He was the ex-chairman of PMC Education Board from 1985 to 1992.Meanwhile, the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games condoled his death and ordered an inquiry against the event management agency, the India Tourism Development Corporation.

Sale of Games tickets for Indian public begins

Sale of tickets for the Commonwealth Games – priced between Rs.50 and Rs.50,000 – has begun. The tickets for the Indian general public were launched by Delhi Lieutenant -Governor Tejendra Khanna in the presence of Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi at a function organised at the OC Headquarters here on Friday.The first tickets for the event were presented by the Games' mascot Shera to Mr. Khanna and Delhi Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney.

It was informed that ticket prices for the sporting events would range from Rs.50 to Rs.1,000. The ticket prices for the Opening Ceremony will be much higher and range from Rs.1,000 to Rs.50,000. Similarly for the Closing Ceremony the price band would be Rs.750 to Rs.50,000. In all about 17 lakh tickets would be up for sale for the Games.

To bring in the crowds, almost 40 per cent of the competition venue tickets will be priced at Rs.200 or less. And for four events– the Marathon, the Walk, Cycling Road Race and Cycling Time Trial – the entry would be free.

Each ticket holder would be able to travel free of charge by Delhi Metro trains and DTC buses to reach and return from the venue on the day of the event for which they hold a ticket.

To ensure that the counterfeit tickets do not get circulated, the Organising Committee has got the tickets printed at Government of India Security Press with complete inbuilt foolproof security features.

Incidentally, ticket sales in international markets had begun in November 2009 and the sales to sponsors had started in May 2010.

Expressing his happiness on the launch of the ticketing programme for Delhi 2010, Mr. Khanna expressed hope that people from across the country will come forward to buy the Games' tickets. “This is a landmark event for Delhi which will attract sports enthusiasts from across the country. The Games will have a positive impact on the sporting culture of our country as well as city and give the country's Capital a world-class infrastructure for years to come,” he said.

Thanking the Delhi Government for waiving the entertainment tax on the tickets and thereby making them affordable, Mr. Kalmadi said: “The tickets for the Games are affordable and easily accessible. I hope all Delhiites will come forward and buy tickets in large numbers resulting in house full stadiums during all the competitions.”

The tickets are available at Central Bank of India and Hero Honda, CWG Ticketing call centre (1800-200-1294) as well as through the official ticketing website –, the Organising Committee said.

Sheila visits Terminal 3, discusses pending issues

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday visited the Integrated Passenger Terminal (Terminal 3) at Indira Gandhi International Airport here that is likely to be formally inaugurated in the first week of July and is expected to be used by a large number of passengers during the Commonwealth Games later this year.

Ms. Dikshit, who was accompanied by Public Works Department Minister Rajkumar Chauhan, apart from senior bureaucrats and officials, witnessed the finishing works and user trials being carried out by Delhi International Airports (Pvt.) Limited (DIAL) at the terminal.

A presentation was also made before the Chief Minister to disseminate a number of new features which have been provided to make the Delhi airport world-class.

The DIAL officers also requested that the Delhi Transco Limited be instructed to complete the 220 kV power line by increasing the cable joining team by July 2010. They said the Delhi Jal Board should also be directed to expeditiously complete the sewage water drainage scheme from the airport to Bijwasan and similarly, the Public Works Department be told to complete the Phase-II storm water drainage project from Mahipalpur to IGI Airport.

The Chief Minister was informed that Terminal 3 would have a common check-in concourse with 168 check-in counters for smooth passenger experience, 24 remote check-in counters, five level in-line baggage system for safer and faster processing, 98 immigration counters for international passengers and 78 passenger boarding bridges – among the highest for a single terminal in the world.

Passenger comfort

For enhanced passenger comfort, the airport would also have 92 automatic walkways, 34 escalators and 63 elevators.

Besides, Terminal 3 would also boast extensive retail, food and beverage outlets to suit every taste and budget, and would have direct connectivity to the city centre via the dedicated Metro Express line. This would also mark another first in the country.

Respiratory problems increasing in Delhi

With the level of suspended particulate matter (SPM) in Delhi's atmospheres measuring 1.5 times higher than the prescribed limit, many citizens are complaining of respiratory problems that is making breathing difficult.

“Large-scale construction activities going on in the Capital because of the Commonwealth Games and the Delhi Metro rail work is making the air heavy with high levels of SPM. We measured 151 micro grams per cubic metre of SPM as against the prescribed standard of 60 micro grams per cubic metre (24 hourly) at the ITO air quality monitoring site earlier this week. The city does record higher levels of SPM during the month of May and this reduces only after the rains come in,” said Central Pollution Control Board director S. D. Makhijani.

“We are, however, expecting that the high SPM level, which is primary due to the ongoing construction activities and heavy vehicular movement, will subside after the Commonwealth Games is over. As for immediate relief, Delhiites will be able to breath freer as soon as the monsoon sets in,'' he added.

Mr. Makhijani said the Capital's SPM level was the highest among other cities in the country.

“But it also has to be taken into consideration that no other city in the country is reporting construction activity at this scale under such climatic conditions,'' he added.

Air becoming heavy

Dr. B.L. Kapur Memorial Hospital (Critical Care and Respiratory Medicine) senior consultant Dr. Rajesh Pande said: “The season is definitely tough for city dwellers and complaints of respiratory ailments are common. With several city roads dug up the air has become very heavy and people are coming in with complaints of breathlessness. During the months of April-June, we usually don't see so many patients coming in for asthma or other respiratory ailments. But this time round it is surprising to see so many patients coming in with dust-related allergies, asthma and other respiratory ailments.''

Dr. Punnet Khanna, physician at the same hospital, added: “The best way is to avoid the specific triggers and allergens that cause the problems. But with the city enveloped in a cloud of dust, asthmatics aren't really left with any option. Using preventive medicines or precautions prior to the exposure will help minimise allergy symptoms. The season is bad especially for those whose immune is compromised.''

Want to watch Games? Book early, ticket sales have begun

If you want to watch the XIX Commonwealth Games live, and not on TV, hurry up and book your ticket now.

On Friday, the first day sales began, 1,700 tickets worth Rs 20 lakh were bought by 8 pm. The Games will be held from October 3 to 14.

Ticket are priced from Rs 50 to Rs 1,000, but prices for the opening ceremony have been kept between Rs 1,000 and Rs 50,000 and for the closing, from Rs 750 to Rs 50,000.

The Organising Committee (OC), which is facing a dearth of sponsors, is overjoyed.

"The tickets sold today were the high end ones," said an OC official.

Those booking their tickets now will get a confirmation voucher, be exchanged later for the real thing in August. The tickets, being printed at the government security press in Nashik, are yet not ready.

"We anticipate a sale of 17 lakh tickets, which are expected to generate about Rs. 60-70 crore," said Lalit Bhanot, OC secretary general.

Lack of coaches derail Games trainees

When a coach fell ill recently at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) here, the players under his tutelage, preparing for the Commonwealth Games, were left clueless for one whole day.

With just four months to go for the mega-event, all is not well at the country’s premier sports training institute, as expertise comes at a premium here, thanks largely to the stagnant pool of coaches.

Sample this, for starters: while hundreds of crores are being spent on world-class infrastructure for the Games, only 1,300-odd coaches are engaged in managing the training of thousands of sportspersons across the country.

In fact, the last recruitment for a coach at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) came more than a decade ago — 1998, to be precise.

Gross neglect

So acute is the crisis that the issue got a special mention in a report submitted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development in Parliament this April. “The most crucial aspect for preparedness of our sportspersons in different sports disciplines has remained the most neglected one so far,” says the report (The Indian Express possesses a copy).

A top SAI official said the inadequate number of coaches will hamper India’s preparations for the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. The ratio of coach to players here would be close to 1:100, the official said.

No recruitments in sight

Worse, experts said fresh recruitment, if any, would take at least a couple of months to be completed. “Sports graduates from the NIS are recruited by states or private institutions year after year,” the official said. “But despite the shortage, SAI does not take them in.” A source in SAI said cadre review is going on at present and any change in recruitment rules is expected to be done after a meeting by August-end.

According to the Parliamentary panel’s report, “The committee has been given to understand that strength of 1,623 (coaches) in 1997 was brought down to 831 by the Ministry of Finance. It took prolonged deliberations in bringing the strength back to 1,258 on regular basis, and 85 coaches on contract.”

Chief national boxing coach G S Sandhu said, “More coaches should be recruited if the country is to get more international medals,” said Sandhu, a SAI employee who is due to retire in 2013.

SAI’s coaching director Amar Bhardwaj said the sports ministry has already sanctioned 100 more posts following the Finance department’s green signal.

Almost 70 coaches are due to retire in the next three years

L-G given first Games ticket, Sheila not invited

The montage of the closing ceremony of the Melbourne Games distinctly show Commonwealth Games Federation chief Micheal Fennell handing over the Commonwealth banner to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. But on Friday morning, when the Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi handed over the first Games ticket to Lieutenant-Governor, the chief minister was not present at the function. The Committee, in fact, did not invite her at all.

“I was not invited for the event and it is okay. I came to know about it through the papers,” Dikshit said. She added that she was not aware of the event.

“The L-G is a good enough representative of the Delhi government. Why is it necessary that we should invite the entourage for each event. For different events we invite different dignitaries. I do not think anybody should mind it,” a senior OC official said.

The launch function of the ticketing website and call centre facility, meanwhile, was held as scheduled on Friday at the Committee’s headquarters.

Urging people to participate in large numbers, L-G Tejendra Khanna said: “The Games will have a positive impact on the sporting culture. Delhiites will showcase India’s traditional hospitality and universal brotherhood to the guests visiting India.”

Kalmadi also thanked the Delhi government for waving off the entertainment tax. “The tickets are affordable and easily accessible. We hope that people will participate in large numbers to make the Games successful.”

Amid cheers Shera, the Games mascot, presented the first ticket to Tejendra Khanna and the second ticket to Mayor of Delhi Prithvi Raj Sawhney. The IRCTC managing director Rakesh Tandon and OC Secretary General Lalit Bhanot also attended the event.

The tickets will be available in three phases. In Phase I, spectators will be provided with a confirmation voucher which will be exchanged for actual tickets from August 1. In Phase II, spectators will have actual tickets against every purchase. Phase III, which will begin just before the Games (October 1), will witness venue sales outlets also added to the sales channel.

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) is the official ticketing agency for Delhi 2010 in collaboration with Broad Vision Systems and TicketPro.

Ticket to Games

Call Centre number:

Ticket cost for events:
Rs 50 to Rs 1,000

Opening ceremony tickets:
Rs 1,000 Rs 50,000

Closing ceremony tickets:
Rs 750 to Rs 50,000

Grab your Commonwealth Games tickets, now

Rs 50 is all you need to witness international-level sportspersons perform during the Commonwealth Games this October.

The Organising Committee (OC) of the XIX Commonwealth Games launched the sale of tickets for one of the biggest sporting events in the world from Friday. Lt. Governor of Delhi Tejendra Khanna, who was also presented the first ticket by the Games Organising Committee (OC), released the tickets. Rs 1,000 is the maximum cost of a ticket.

There are 17 lakh tickets on offer and they are already selling like hot cakes. Officials claimed that tickets worth Rs 20 lakh were sold on the very first day.

But your wait for the real thing will take some time. The tickets, which are being printed at the Government of India Security Press in Nashik, are yet not ready. Only confirmation vouchers will be given now. They will be exchanged for tickets in August.

Dr Lalit Bhanot, secretary general, Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, said, “We anticipate sales of 17 lakh tickets and expect to generate about Rs 60-70 crore from it.”

Indian Rail Catering and Tour Company (IRCTC) has been appointed as the official ticketing agency for CWG 2010 in consortium with Broad Vision Systems and TicketPro.

An added advantage is that each ticket holder would be entitled for free travel in the Delhi Metro and DTC buses to reach and return from the venue on the day of the event.

India Gate to get a bath

There would be scrubbing, cleaning and also a little shampoo, not to mention the new dressing. No, we are not talking about a person getting a makeover but Delhi’s one of the most popular hangouts — the India Gate — being spruced up ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

The 42.35 metre high arch, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and built as a war memorial, is set to get a thorough cleaning soon. The structure, built in the 1920s not just weathers heat, dust and rains, it is also showing signs of deterioration like seepage below the side openings on north and south sides and black marks at certain places due to moss and lichen.

“The cleaning this time is being done after a decade, thanks to Commonwealth Games. We would also be

carrying out the necessary repairs,” said a senior Central Public Works Department (CPWD) official.

Earlier the CPWD used tamarind and scrub/wash technology for cleaning the structure. This time round, they will be using chemical cleaning.

“We are using the chemical cleaning method as per the advise of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Once this is done, there would be normal washing with water,” the official said on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorized to speak to the media. 

Incidentally, the ASI and Delhi state archaeological department too are extensively using chemical cleaning method to spruce up a number of heritage monuments ahead of the Games.

The conservationists seem happy about it.

“It is one of the important colonial architectural heritage and among them, one of the youngest,” said S K Mishra, former chairperson of the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

But observes conservation architect Ratish Nanda, “Conservation of India Gate should be coupled with a landscape restoration for the

90 acre roundabout and conservation of the canopy, fountains and the urban setting of the central axis.”

Yes, the CPWD plan to do that too.

The canopy would be cleaned too and apart from the water channels, the two fountains on north and south side would be cleaned and repaired.

The lawns would be taken care of for improving the overall ambience of the area.

The scaffoldings are being put up and the actual cleaning work would start soon. The total work to give a neat and clean image would be carried out at a cost of Rs 66 lakh, the CPWD official said.

Delhiites urged to help secure city during Games

Delhi Lt. Governor Tejendra Khanna Friday urged people in the national capital to ‘project themselves in the best way’ and remain alert to work as an extension of the government  in providing security during the Commonwealth Games.

Speaking at the ceremonial launch of ticketing for the Oct 3-14 mega event here, Khanna said: ‘I am sure that Delhiites would be able to project themselves in the best way and would set a good example before the guests so that they can carry a good picture of Delhi with them.’

Talking about providing best security during the Games, he said all the government machinery is involved in providing best security to everyone during the mega event, but people play a key role in it.

‘I have been discussing on the security front with global security experts for the past two years. What I found in common in the suggestions that people play an important role in security. People are extension to the government,’ Khanna said.

The lt. governor said people going to markets, religious and any other places should remain alert and share with police information about any suspicious people.

‘But, I pray that Delhi Games will prove out to be the best in the Commonwealth Games history.’

‘In this age of globalisation, the whole world looks up to India and expects a good leadership. Everybody outside India is eager to learn about the way we live… our sense of brotherhood, the feeling of oneness, the way we support and help each other. They would arrive in Delhi with these perceptions and I am confident that Delhiites will set a good example.’

Khanna said the Delhi government had spent Rs.15,000 crore in building international level infrastructure for the Games.

‘Many flyovers, roads have been worked on. The Metro, which was earlier only available to a limited number of people in a limited area, is now spread across Delhi and also the neighbouring states. The benefits of development will reach the people in years to come,’ he said.

The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee is expecting to receive over one lakh spectators and delegates during the Games.

Former corporator killed as stage collapses at CWG committee function

A 56-year-old former corporator from Pune was killed when a stage being erected for a function at the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee office here collapsed and fell on him, police said today.

Shambu Nayak had come to the office to meet Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi when the incident took place at the office located at Jantar Mantar at 8:30 pm last night, a senior police official said.

Nayak was standing at the reception when the stage collapsed and an aluminium pillar fell on him.

"He was critically injured and rushed to RML hospital where he died during treatment," the official said, adding a case of death due to negligence has been registered in connection with Nayak's death.

Earlier, the police said the victim was a labourer who was erecting the stage.

The stage was being erected for today's function for the ceremonial launch of ticketing for the Games to be held on October 3 to 14 in the city.

The Organising Committee said an inquiry has been ordered against the event management agency.

I never wanted cricket to be a part of Olympic sports, says Kalmadi

Chairman of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Suresh Kalmadi has come down heavily on the BCCI for its decision to not to send a team to the Asian Games, though he revealed that he never wanted cricket to be a part of the Olympics.

''I have never been keen on cricket being a part of Olympic sports because then Olympic sports get hurt. And cricket has become very commercial and there are only medals there, there is no money. So, I don't think anybody from the cricket world is interested in taking part in Olympic sports,'' Kalmadi told mediapersons yesterday.

The IOA president further added that he knew that BCCI would end up taking such a decision. ''They were saying that they were coming for the Asian games and they have backed out now, I knew this would happen,'' Kalmadi added.

Sports Minister MS Gill had already insisted that cricket does not fit in the events of Olympic Games.

Gill also felt that Indian cricketers are very tired and that racing horses are even rested.

The 16th Asian Games, also known as the XVI Asiad, is scheduled to take place in Guangzhou in China from November 12 to 27 this year.

Commonwealth Games to battle cricket for viewers

The Commonwealth Games in October are set to compete against India's obsession with cricket if a high-profile home series against Australia goes ahead as scheduled.

Ricky Ponting's men are due to tour India in September-October at the same time the four-yearly Games take place in New Delhi from October 3 to 14.

An official of the Indian cricket board (BCCI) said details of the tour, which is part of the International Cricket Council's Future Tours Program, were being worked out with Cricket Australia.

"We have requested Australia to play two Tests and three one-day internationals instead of a series of seven one-dayers," the BCCI's chief administrative official Ratnakar Shetty told AFP.

Australia are due to arrive in late September and must return home by October 31, when they begin a home series of Twenty20 and one-day matches against Sri Lanka.

The tour, once finalised, is certain to further annoy Indian Olympic officials, who are already seething at the BCCI's decision not to send the men's and women's cricket teams to the Asian Games in China in November.

"The BCCI is not taking part because there is no money to be made at the Asian Games," said Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi, who heads the Commonwealth Games organising committee.

"They think only of money. I am glad cricket is not part of the Commonwealth Games."

Although New Delhi is unlikely to figure in Australia's itinerary, millions of television viewers will be glued to the cricket when the Games are on.

Cricket has such a strong following in India that organisers of the field hockey World Cup in New Delhi in March advanced the tournament by a week so that it would not clash with the Indian Premier League.

Cricket, a non-Olympic sport, was last seen at a major multi-sport event at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, but was dropped for the next two editions in England and Australia.

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