Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jal Board to get 20-MGD Bawana plant running before Games in October

A day after it resumed normal water supply from the Tehri Dam through the Upper Ganga Canal, which was blocked by protesters of the Jat community at Muradnagar on Sunday, the city’s water utility has sought the Centre’s intervention to secure its important installations.

Moreover, to avoid any such incidents in future that cause an unprecedented water crisis in an already parched city, the Delhi Jal Board also hopes to begin operating before the Commonwealth Games its 20-MGD (million gallons a day) water treatment plant (WTP) in Bawana.

The plant, which was commissioned way back in 2000 and abandoned since for want of water, is undergoing repairs right now, as the Haryana government has agreed to give additional water after intervention by the Centre. While the disputed Munak Channel — which was to give the city an additional 80 MGD water — is near completion with just 200 metres of the project left, the Haryana government is to give a revised estimate of the increased costs to Delhi government soon.

The purpose of the Munak Canal is to cut the wastage through seepage of water supplied to Delhi by Haryana through the Western Yamuna Canal. The water thus received was expected to help in running the 20-MGD Okhla WTP, the 20-MGD Bawana WTP and the 50-MGD WTP at Dwarka.

The 102-km-long Munak canal project is being built by the government of Haryana between Munak on the border of Haryana and Haiderpur in Delhi. Even as the Delhi government has borne the entire project cost of Rs 550 crore, Haryana had made clear it won’t give any additional water to Delhi beyond its mandate to maintain a level of 674.5 feet at the Wazirabad pond as per a Supreme Court ruling. The Delhi government then asked Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar to intervene in the matter. “The PMO has given its approval, and Haryana has agreed to give 20 MGD of water, which would help in running the Bawana WTP,” a senior DJB official said.

“Work on the 20-MGD Bawana WTP is on, to make it operational before the Games,” DJB CEO Ramesh Negi confirmed to Newsline. But this will be no easy task, as abandoned for over a decade, transformers at the plant have been stolen, its lines have oxidised and the iron machinery has rusted.

Little shooting practice for cops on CWG duty

Even as Delhi Police gets ready for the Commonwealth Games, the security at the venues remains a major problem. A new RTI reply has now revealed that most police officers, especially those posted at the district police stations, hardly get any time to practice shooting. According to the reply, the south district — which has three major venues under it, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium — hardly gets 10 rounds to fire at a practice range.

According to sources, most of the police personnel practice shooting only once in a year owing to pressing "official duties".

The result is not too rosy. While personnel in the Outer district get to fire 30 rounds in a year, those in the north district do a little better — they get to fire 40 rounds. Among the districts, the northeast district has the best practice — their personnel fire at least 50 rounds a year. For the more specialized units like the special cell, crime branch and the security cell, this number is significantly higher.

Rajan Bhagat, PRO, Delhi Police said that each officer was given training depending on the specifications of their work. "It would be wrong to say that we do not provide our personnel enough training opportunities. We are aware of the needs of the force and the training schedule is drawn depending on our needs," said Bhagat.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police said they are investing a lot of money on training their men before the Commonwealth Games. "Our executives compulsorily attend the annual training. In addition, we have arranged for special training for all cops who will be allocated weapons during the Games. All such officers will either be allocated small weapons or automatic guns like AK-47s. Each of these men will receive separate training based on the kind of weapon they will be carrying. We will complete this training well before the CWG," said joint commissioner (northern range) Karnal Singh.

Meanwhile, when contacted, senior officials from the districts said it was the pressing daily routine that has kept them very busy. "We have duty at the police station, which includes investigations and even attending court proceedings. Taking a day off for urgent work becomes difficult,leave alone getting the chance to attend regular shooting practice sessions," said a senior police officer refusing to be named.

JCP Singh said all efforts have been made to ensure that every officer carrying a gun is provided at least several hours of training in this year itself.

Civic body to renovate kiosks before Games

To ensure a clean Delhi during the Commonwealth Games, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is planning to renovate all of the 254 kiosks and 93 paan stalls located in its area. The move came after an intimation from the L-G and requests from NDMC members.

Earlier, an ITC representative offered to undertake the renovation at their own expense. Following this, the NDMC had asked them to re-do two kiosks — at Ambassador Hotel and Lodhi Garden Gate No 4. The work on the two kiosks is complete and sources said the NDMC found it satisfactory.

“On Wednesday, the council will decide whether the ITC should renovate all the other kiosks and paan stalls as well,” said Mukesh Bhatt, a member of the NDMC.

The proposal seeks to allow the ITC to renovate the kiosks on the following conditions: They will carry out the work at no cost to the NDMC, post-renovation they will maintain the structures for three years and there will be no signage or advertisement on the exterior of the structure — it will only have the NDMC logo and unit number.

If the proposal is accepted, the ITC would be asked to undertake the work and complete it before Games.

BJP calls for transparency in CWG expenditure

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, senior vice-president of the Bhartiya Janata Party, has alleged that in the name of developing Delhi for the Commonwealth Games in October later this year, the development of certain individuals is becoming more visible.

Speaking to rediff.com, Naqvi said the Government of India should step in and control the needless expenditure being incurred.

"When the Games were given to India, Suresh Kalmadi claimed that the total expenditure to stage it would be only Rs 1620 crores. In the name of staging the Games, and development of the city, what is visible is development of certain individuals who are key figures in hosting the Games.

"I am told that one NGO has released documents which prove that the total cost of the Games has already crossed Rs 10,000 crores and the figure could go up substantially. We will get the real picture once the Games are over and experts sit down to calculate the costs of holding the 15-day extravaganza," Naqvi alleged.

He criticised the Delhi government for "wasteful expenditure to make the city neat and clean for just 15 days".

"Roads which are already in good shape are being re-laid; pavements are being dug up and fresh red stones are replacing the old pavement coverings. This is downright atrocious," Naqvi said.

He appealed to the Union Government, headed by Primer Minister Manmohan Singh, to step in.

"After the Games are over the government must look into the manner the money was spent. There is dire need of transparency. Metro projects are being delayed so that the escalation of costs can be justified," he added.

The NGO he was referring to is Housing and Land Rights Network, Delhi. It has claimed that chairman of the Games organizing committee Suresh Kalmadi has gone on record saying the cost of the Games would only be Rs 1620 crores.

The figure quoted by Kalmadi though, the NGO claimed, is the loan the Organizing Committee has taken from various banks.

A recent report by HLRN, titled: 'The 2010 Commonwealth Games: Whose Wealth? Whose Commons?' brings to light various dimensions of the Games, including the social, economic and environmental costs.

'Mr. Kalmadi in his May 29 article attempts to counter the evidence presented in this report, which is based on extensive research, Right to Information (RTI) applications and government data. It is important to set the record straight,' Shivani Chaudhry, Associate Director, HLRN, and co-author of the report, said.

Kalmadi has claimed that the expenditure incurred so far would make Delhi a more classy megapolis.

But the NGO asked, 'Who is this 'classy city' being built for, and at what cost? What explains the human rights violations and grave social and environmental impacts that this has entailed?'

Naqvi said that his party had on numerous occasions pointed out examples of wasteful expenditure being incurred in the name of staging the Games but precious little has be done about it so far.

"It would be in the interest of the Delhi citizens if the central government clears the air," he said.

Interestingly, various figures are being mentioned by various individuals.

Kalmadi's colleague V K Verma, Director General of the Commonwealth Games, cited a sum of Rs. 10,000 crore as the total cost of the Games in March this year.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS), headed by Dr M S Gill, provided a break-up of an estimated total cost of Rs. 11,494 crore on its website.

The MYAS allocation for CWG in the Union Budget for the years 2005-06 to 2010-11 is Rs. 6,423.5 crore, according to the statistics made available by the Union Government, Expenditure Budgets.

Dr A K Walia, finance minister in Sheila Dikshit's government, in his budget speech in March 2010 announced that the Delhi government's expenditure on infrastructure for the Games was Rs. 15,000 crore.

THREE young volunteers have been picked to represent West Dunbartonshire and Scotland in the Commonwealth Games hand-over ceremony in India.

Jennifer Davidson, 18, Ross MacPherson, 19 and Laura Young, 25, all from Alexandria, will travel to New Dehli in October to take part in the special ceremony, which will take place in the 75,000-seater Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on the last day of the 2010 games.

The poignant event marks the official handover from India to Glasgow - the host city for the games in 2014.

The three youngsters, who have all carried out significant voluntary work in the area, were selected to join other young ambassadors from all over Scotland.

A delighted Jennifer was selected when judges saw her fantastic work as a children's gymnastics coach in West Dunbartonshire.

Jennifer said: "To be involved in the ceremony fills me with a real sense of pride as I am representing West Dunbartonshire in this huge event.

"This is a great personal achievement and something I am sure will stay with me for life and I feel that it will benefit me in terms of life experience - I also feel that with my background in dance, I will really relish this experience as I absolutely love to perform."

An equally thrilled Ross has carried out 700 hours of volunteering with The Tullochan Trust, CHAS and Autism Scotland.

The former Vale of Leven Academy head boy said: "It means a lot for me to be chosen as an Ambassador as it's a part of Scottish history and to be a part of the Commonwealth Games Flag Handover in New Dehli is a great honour.

"It's also a great opportunity for West Dunbartonshire to show that not all people my age are bad people.

"This is a great example to the young people I work with, to see that they can achieve all they want in life."

Laura works for West Dunbartonshire Council's (WDC) Sports Development Unit and has helped support and promote dance for youngsters through voluntary work in the area.

Laura said: "Having lived in West Dunbartonshire for 25 years, I absolutely love this opportunity to represent the area in such an exciting and important role.

"Having been involved in volunteering in sport and dance for the last ten years, travelling to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it will be great to not only experience the Commonwealth Games first hand but to experience such a different culture and lifestyle, as well as raising the profile of both West Dunbartonshire and Scotland."

Sharat Kamal to lead Indian challenge in CWG TT test event

Indian paddlers will aim to give themselves a big boost ahead of the Commonwealth Games with a rich haul of medals at the Pro Tour India Open Table Tennis Championship which commences here tomorrow.

The five-day tournament, which will have a prize money of 100,000 dollars, is a test event for the Commonwealth Games. It will be staged at the newly-built state-of-the-art Yamuna Sports Complex and will see participation of 102 players from 13 countries.

Olympian and reigning Commonwealth Games champion Achanta Sharath Kamal, who is currently at the 91st spot in the world rankings, and woman national champion Poulomi Ghatak will spearhead the 46-member Indian contingent.

In the men's section, apart from Kamal, former national champion Subhajit Saha, Sourav Chakraborty and Soumyadeep Roy will also hope to finish on the podium.

Among the women, Ghatak and her doubles partner Mouma Das are coming into the championship after a good show at the recent World Championships in Moscow and are strong contenders for a medal.

The Indian paddlers have already undergone a week-long training camp at the venue under the guidence of national coach Massimo Constantini of Italy and chief SAI coach Bhawani Mukherjee. ''The camp was very fruitful and all the players are also in good condition. We are expecting some good performance in the tournament,'' Mukherjee told reporters.

Special train for Commonwealth Games

Union Minister of State for Railways E Ahamed today said the Commonwealth Games Special Train would start from New Delhi on June 24 and cover all parts of the country in a bid to to mobilise the campaign In Kerala, the train would have stoppage at Kollam and Thiruvanthapuram and reach Delhi on October 1, Mr Ahamed said.

He also informed the Kannur-Yeswantpur (Train No 6528) train would be extended as a daily from June 25. Mr Ahamed said this train was now running three times a week.

and the shortage of bogies was the main reason for converting it into a daily service. The Railways had sanctioned the development works for Kannur and the works would start soon, he said.

Sheila Dikshit meets Sonia Gandhi

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit today called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi and is understood to have briefed her on the upcoming Commonwealth Games preparations.

However, officials in the chief minister's office refused to divulge the details saying it was a courtesy meeting.

Besides briefing Gandhi about preparations for the Commonwealth Games to be held from October 3 to 14, the chief minister is also believed to have discussed other issues related to the city.

The Delhi government has spent over Rs10,000 crore to strengthen infrastructure in the city ahead of the event.

Indian paddlers will be tested in quality field

Indian paddlers will test themselves against a quality field in the $100,000 Indian Open Pro Tour table tennis  tournament starting here Wednesday.

The five-day tournament, a test event for the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games, will see participation of 102 players from 13 countries at the newly-constructed Yamuna Sports Complex.

Though China is not participating in the event because of overlapping of dates with their domestic super league, teams like Japan, Malaysia, Germany, Chinese Taipei, and South Korea will be in the fray. Pakistan has also pulled out of the event at the last minute citing non-clearance of visas.

India will field 46 players with the country’s top players Achanta Sharath Kamal and Mouma Das, respectively, leading the pack in the men’s and women’s sections.

Reigning Commonwealth Games champion Sharath Kamal, who is currently ranked 91, will look to cash in on the home advantage and win crucial points after having slipped down from the 70th place recently.

Germany’s Dimtrij Ovtcharov, ranked 13, and Singapore’s Gao Ning, ranked 25, are the top draw in the men’s field.

In the women’s section, Singapore’s Yu Mengyu, ranked 12, and Japanese Sayaka Hirano, ranked 15, are the top two world-ranked players.

The top-ranked 16 players will get a direct entry to the main draw. The remaining players will be divided in eight groups where they play the round-robin league. From each group, two top players will qualify to the main draw.

“The Indian players will get a good opportunity to play against the world class players. The men’s team did well in the World Championship and we almost got elevated to the top tier. We are expecting a good show from our players,” said Dhanraj Choudhary, secretary general, Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).

Didier Leroy, who is the competition manager from International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), said the Indian Open Pro Tour has become an important event in the TTFI calendar.

“We wanted it to host in March but we were told that the stadium is not ready. With World Championships rounding up just a few days back, many players are not coming. Still I think there are lot of quality players in the ranks. Also, the prize money of the tournament has been increased and it only will grow from here,” Leroy told IANS.

Leroy also said the facilities in the stadium are world class.

“It is a new venue and the facilities are good. There are still some finishing touches to be done and I am sure before the Commonwealth Games it will be ready.”

He also said ITTF is seriously thinking about marketing the sport in the country.

“Our marketing director will be here during the event and he will be looking at the possibilities to take the sport to a larger audience in India. The Indian team is improving and some of the young players are impressive. TTFI is doing a wonderful job by giving them international exposure. There is enough scope for the sport to grow here and that is the reason why ITTF is having such international tournaments here.”

Finnish firm may help weather forecasting during Commonwealth Games

A Finnish company that supplied equipment for real-time weather predictions for the Beijing Olympics is the lowest  bidder for a similar project for the Indian capital for the October Commonwealth Games.

‘There is a proposal for a network of weather stations in Delhi at 60 locations, including stadiums and downtown areas,’ said Sami Haga of the Finnish company Vaisala Oyj that specialises in instrumentation for weather predictions.

‘The weather stations will give time-wise and location-wise information in real time. This data will help the weather forecasting process during the Commonwealth Games,’ Haga, who overseas Vaisala’s India operations, told IANS.

‘The system will be a dense instrumentation network and will provide data which is important for athletes and sports officials.’

Kjell Forsen, president and chief executive, said Vaisala was looking closely at the Indian market. ‘We supplied equipment for the Beijing Olympics and we hope to do the same for the Commonwealth Games,’ he told this reporter in the Finnish capital.

‘We opened our office in New Delhi two years ago – one of our 30 offices worldwide. We are very keen to work with the Indian Meteorological Department. Vaisala is a unique provider, as it is a one-stop shop for weather instrumentation.’

The Commonwealth Games are to be held in New Delhi during Oct 3-14 and a flurry of preparations is on for the multi-country multi-sport event.

According to Haga, the Indian Meteorological Department is also modernising the weather observation infrastructure and weather radars are to be installed in Delhi and Jaipur.

‘We were the lowest bidders and now the final approval is awaited.’

Giving a global picture of his company, Forsen said worldwide 1,400 radio zones, or balloons fitted with instruments, are released into the atmosphere every day and many of them were Vaisala products.

Headquartered in this city, the company is nearly 75 years old and focuses on science-based innovation and technology for environmental measurement. It has some 1,100 professionals and is listed on the Nordic Exchange.

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