Sunday, June 13, 2010

Commonwealth Games casualty: stink-free urinals

Manhole covers, public taps, fans in trains… now even toilets aren’t safe from thieves in the country.

Installing waterless, stink-free urinals on Delhi’s streets at Rs 4.5 lakh each ahead of the October Commonwealth Games had seemed a smart idea. Now these odourless toilets are being pinched from right under police’s noses, leaving no scent of the crime.

“It’s difficult to catch these people. Work on the Games is going on across the city; we cannot have guards at each and every corner to prevent these crimes,” a police officer said.

Civic officials were planning to set up 1,000 such urinals, each fitted with a cartridge that blocks odour, ahead of the Games. But they now fear there won’t be too many left by the time the event begins.

“The rate at which they are being torn apart, it’s seriously worrying,” an official said.

The thieves have been ripping the pipes and the bowls off the urinals’ concrete walls. Now the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has decided to build the urinals and lay the pipes but not install the bowls till the eve of the Games, when private security guards would be hired to man the toilets round the clock.

It’s not just the urinals. Even the high-mast streetlights being put up ahead of the Games at Rs 25,000 each are being stripped of their bulbs and wiring. The ornamental plants, costing Rs 2,500 each, being planted on the sidewalks as part of a beautification drive keep vanishing too.

“The Games are Delhi’s pride. It’s a shame that we have to hunt down Delhiites who are intent on keeping their own city ugly,” the police officer said.

The civic authorities and the Delhi government’s public works department say that at every site, something or the other goes missing every day.

The workers who arrive to plant saplings discover that those planted the previous day have been taken out. When they come to overlay the pavements with sandstone tiles (Rs 40 each), they find the entire pile of tiles has been stolen. Those on the job of fitting the new streetlights out with bulbs sometimes cannot find anything — the entire structure has been stolen.

A councillor said 40 fancy streetlights had been put up in her ward. Within days, 18 had been cleaned out of their bulbs and wiring.

Bikers begin rally to spread Games spirit in 5 states

With only three months left for the Commonwealth Games 2010, the Organizing Committee is going all out to spread the word about the event. As part of its publicity pitch for the Games, on Sunday, a bike rally was flagged off to Leh, which would pass through five states in a bid to popularize the Delhi Games 2010.

The Delhi Games 2010 Riders Delhi to Leh rally is being undertaken by 34 enthusiastic bikers, who will cover a total distance of 3,500 km through five states on their way to Leh and back over a period of 15 days. Said a senior OC official, ‘‘The bikers would spread the message and spirit of the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi while passing through the states of Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.’’

Flagging off the rally, Suresh Kalmadi, chairman, OC said, ‘‘The Commonwealth Games is not just for Delhi but is meant for the entire country and these bikers while crossing the five states of north India will spread the message and spirit of the Games.’’ The bikers, while on their journey, will spread the messsage and spirit of the Games by distributing banners, posters and pamphlets to the public.

Rejected, plans DDA can’t get cleared

Clock ticking, but no DUAC clearance for two Games venues — Yamuna and Siri Fort sports complexes

While the Delhi government claims all Commonwealth Games-related projects are on schedule, two of the venues for the mega event are yet to obtain clearance from the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC).

Practice venues for badminton and squash at the Siri Fort Sports Complex and for table tennis at the Yamuna Sports Complex respectively, are still awaiting DUAC’s approval. In a meeting held last month, the commission noted that project plans for both venues were found wanting in many respects. It noted that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the civic agency in charge of the projects, had failed to comply with the earlier observations of the art body.

There was no plan for external traffic circulation, including connectivity with the city network for the TT venue, the commission found. The DUAC also noted that the DDA had not complied with its earlier observations regarding the paving of a large area at the Siri Fort complex and the temporary foot overbridge spanning the Siri Fort wall.

With regard to the tennis stadium, the commission found that none of the drawings submitted by the DDA showed any provision for unhindered public access to the venue from the common parking lots for cars and buses. The access shown in the plan was blocked by a parking lot and a road, it noted.

“The commission was dismayed to note that the same observations given in earlier meetings have not been complied with by the DDA. The drawings and the model were still not tallying with each other,” read the observation recently published on the official DUAC website.
The DDA had recently asked a private company — Sportina Payce Infrastructure Limited — to pay a compensation of nearly Rs 6 crore for the “slow pace” in the work at a swimming practice venue, fitness centre and athletic tracks for the Games.

The DDA has now been directed to resubmit the plans after brining them in line with the DUAC observations at the earliest.

Turning the throttle to Leh, with a Games message

The atmosphere at the Commonwealth Games headquarters was charged up on a sunny Sunday morning. A doctor, a civil engineer, a student and a mechanic had gathered, clad in windcheaters and mounted on their bikes. Agenda: to spread the message of the Commonwealth Games on a 3,500-km bike trip from Delhi to Leh, and back again.

The 34-biker group includes 60-year-old Raghvinder Singh Rekhi, who spends most of his time travelling in India and abroad. “After retirement, my mission is to discover India on a motorbike,” he says.

The expedition, called Mission Ladakh VI, is spread over 15 days. “Besides publicity for the Games, we also want to publicise motor biking as a sport,” says Mohit Thimmaya, a team member.

Love for biking and wanderlust pulled these 34 men out of the trudges of their daily lives to embark upon the five-state expedition. Mahesh Aute, a 39-year-old businessman from Aurangabad, admits, “I have embarked on this project just to go on this tour.”

It is, however, more than just a tour for Dinkar Bhardwaj, a 38-year-old businessman from Hyderabad. “We will be showcasing our country during the Games and I am proud to be part of this event,” he said.

Harried bosses and job deadlines can hardly come in the way of these men’s love affairs with their bikes. As 27-year-old Jagdeep Soni puts it, “I am a full-time biker, part-time IT professional.”

The team is led by Vinod Kumar and Parmesh Kumar, co-founders of motor-biking club Team 456. The club organises biking trips for professional as well as amateur bikers.

Flagging off the rally, Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Games Organising Committtee, said, “The Commonwealth Games is not just for Delhi but for India and these bikers, while crossing the five states of North India, will spread the message and spirit of the Games to the public.”

The bikers will pass through the states of Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir on their way to Leh.

First aid kiosks at Metro stations during Games

At least 23 first aid kiosks and a team of medical trainers will be placed at prominent Metro stations in the capital to provide prompt assistance to commuters during the Commonwealth Games in October, an official said Sunday.

"The first aid kiosks will be installed at 23 Metro stations, which are expected to have a higher footfall during the Commonwealth Games. A team of four qualified first aid trainers will be on duty," a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) official said.

Besides first aid, other medical facilities such as blood pressure, temperature checkup and general medicines will be provided at the metro stations.

"We are planning to give round-the-clock ambulance services around the metro stations. Ambulances
will be stationed near the metro stations, so they can be easily availed of in cases of emergency," the official added.

About one million commuters use the Metro on weekdays. During the Games, about two million commuters are expected to use the Metro on weekdays.

Railways to run CWG exhibition train

In the build-up to the Commonwealth  Games in the national capital in October, the Indian Railways will run a special exhibition train from June 24.

“The Indian Railways being the main partner of the Commonwealth Games has decided to run the special train to promote the event across India,” said Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The mega sporting event will be held in Delhi Oct 3-14.

“The exhibition train showcasing the history of the Games and various information regarding the event will start its journey from New Delhi station on June 24,” said Banerjee.

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