Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 Delhi is the unifying force for all, says OC Chairman

The Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (OC CWG Delhi 2010) Chairman Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, MP, has said the Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 Delhi is the unifying force for all irrespective of caste and creed. Addressing a pre-event press conference on the occasion of the baton’s arrival to India through Wagah border on 25 June and inauguration of the Media Centre at the OC CWG Delhi 2010 headquarters he said baton is for everyone and is for the “aam aadmi”(common men).

“Friendship through sports is the theme of baton’s arrival at Wagah Border. The baton will unite the whole country as it will pass through all 28 states and 7 union territories covering a distance of 20,000 kilometres,” he said.

Mr. Kalmadi further added, “Our main focus will be on International Athletes as the baton will promote Olympic Sports’ culture in the country. All State Olympic Associations will organise cultural shows in the respective cities.”

Mr. Kalmadi thanked Pakistan Olympic Committee for its undying support. “Pakistan has supported us to the hill to get these Games”, he added.

The baton will arrive in India on 25 June 2010 through Wagah Border. Pakistan Olympic Committee’s President Lt-Gen Syed Arif Hassan will hand over the baton to Mr. Kalmadi. The baton will then be passed to the CGF President Mr. Mike Fennell, Delhi Chief Minister Ms. Sheila Dikshit, Governor of Pinjab Mr. Shivraj Patil, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Prakash Singh Badal, Union Sports Secretary Ms. Sindhushree Khullar and Hero Honda CEO Mr. Pawan Munjal and other Batonbearers. There will be a colourful culture function at Wagah.

The baton will then embark a 20,000 kilometre long journey spanning 100 days. The baton will cover 400 cities and towns will pass through the hands of around 5,000 Batonbearers. A team of 90 people will accompany the baton in its journey across the country.

Started on 29 Oct 2010 from the Buckingham Palace in London, on 25 June, the baton will complete a journey across the globe covering a distance of 170,000 kilometres spanning in six regions of the Commonwealth viz., Europe, Africa, Caribbean, Americas, Oceania and Asia and visiting 69 nations and territories.

The baton will arrive in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi, on 3 October 2010 for the spectacular opening ceremony kick-starting t 12 days of sporting extravaganza.

Dish sees hi-def boosters in Commonwealth Games, soccer

The management of the leading direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting service provider, Dish TV, expects the sports calendar of the year, especially the Fifa World Cup and Commonwealth Games, to help drive its high-definition (HD) service, according to a report by Citi Investment Research & Analysis, a division of the Citigroup Global Markets.

Dish TV recently announced the launch of its HD service through tie-ups with broadcasters such as ESPN/Star Sports and Zee.

In an analyst call after its fourth quarter results, the Dish TV management said the HD market in India was in its infancy with only 2,000 subscribers, out of a total size of 20 million DTH users.

For HD to succeed, it is first important that the entire value chain is in place - broadcasters should be able to offer content using the technology, the consumers should also have HD-ready TV sets and ready cable/satellite distribution support, the report said citing the company management.

Currently, only 5 to 6 channels have content in HD format and there are only 2.25 million HD-enabled TV sets in the market.

According to the Citi report, the HD launch is more a ‘preparation for the future’ strategy, as it is still in a nascent stage. But, the report states that HD has the potential to be a growth driver in the long term. Subsequently, it would result in higher Arpu (average revenue per user) subscribers and boost profitability.

The report said the other DTH players are also expected to invest in the technology to drive subscriber growth.

Arguing that pricing would remain under pressure till critical mass is achieved, the report said Dish TV initially planned to launch HD services at Rs 5,990 but is now pricing it lower at Rs 2,900, in line with competition.

Dish TV has 7 million subscribers and 33% of the Indian DTH market. Others in the DTH space include TataSky (a joint venture between the Tata group and Rupert Murdoch’s Star), Anil Ambani’s ADAG group, Videocon, Sun and Bharti.

HD set-top boxes offered by a DTH platform enable viewers to watch HD content offered by television channels. Besides Dish, some other DTH service providers too are offering HDTV format.

Replying to a question in a post-result analyst call, Dish TV managing director, Jawahar Goel, said that HDTV is a futuristic technology; however, the company is hopeful of this becoming a significant segment in two years or so.

Recently, a Morgan Stanley report said Dish TV was likely to be among the biggest gainers from the “favourably evolving pay TV market in India”.

The report said that Dish TV was “progressing fast to achieve a subscriber base level that can magnify margins and make it profitable by late financial year 2011, ahead of the Street expectations”.

MCD clean up plan for CW Games

While much has been made of the beautification of Delhi, dirty streets, garbage, and construction rubble continue to be a routine sight across the capital. Both the civic agencies and residents cite the rampant delinquency of the sanitation workers that renders them "helpless".

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has decided to take control of the problem, at least for the two weeks during the Commonwealth Games this October.

Claiming that the city will remain "spotless and sparkling" through the event, Delhi Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney said the MCD will launch a "special cleanliness drive", beginning July 1, as part of the civic agency's attempt to clean Delhi before the mega event.

The MCD will further set up a 'central control room' that will be functional from mid September till the time of the Commonwealth Games.

To be operational round the clock, the control room will have an interactive voice response system. Citizens will be able to make any sanitation and cleanliness related complaint and the MCD staff would "immediately" attend to the same.

The civic agency will further deploy "adequate" specially trained staff across all zones to act upon sanitation complaints immediately.

A proposal regarding the same was recently presented before the state Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta.

The corporation will also install waste collection bins at all Games venues under its jurisdiction, deploy mechanical sweepers, and remove construction waste from across the capital.

Railways to get new logo only for CWG

The Indian Railways seems to operate on the old dictum of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix. Even the mercurial railway minister Mamata Banerjee could not prevail upon the department to change its 60-year-old logo to suit her whims.

It was after soliciting designs from over 1,400 advertising consultants that the Mumbai-based advertising firm—Palm Advertising—was awarded the contract for the new logo that will have a limited run of less than two weeks—the duration of the Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi.

“The railway board has cleared the new logo to be used only during the Commonwealth Games as it is the lead partner for the mega sporing event,” a ministry official said. “However, replacing the old logo with the new one as a permanent measure was objected to,” he added. It may be noted that the railway minister Mamata Banerjee had said she would preside over a new look to the railways, marking a departure from the reign of her predecessor Lalu Prasad. The railways will pay Rs 5 lakh to the ad agency for designing the new logo. “Tickets for special Games trains will also bear the new logo,” said an official.

The new logo has a railway track around a steam engine with the government of India emboss in the centre as against stars representing zonal railways in the existing logo. Ironically, while the logo itself came at a bargain basement price of Rs 5 lakh, the railways was still trying to wrap its head around the cost of repainting the logo on its about 11,000 daily passenger trains. Not to mention other spaces like stations where the logo would have to be displayed.

The Centre’s austerity drive, therefore, seems to have come at an opportune time for the Indian railways, which is already waking up from the feel-good era of surpluses.

Civic body readies action plan to clean Delhi before Games

For the two-week period when the Commonwealth Games are on, the Capital will be “spotless and sparkling”.
This is the promise by Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s, which has decided to enforce a slew of measures to ensure a clean Delhi during Games.

Delhi Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney said the Corporation will launch a special cleanliness drive from July 1. The civic agency will also set up a “central control room” that will be functional from mid-September till the Games.

To be operational round-the-clock, the control room will have an interactive voice response system to register sanitation and cleanliness related complaints, which will be attended to “immediately”.

To enforce its “detailed plan of action” the Corporation has decided to deploy “adequate” specially trained staff across all zones. A proposal regarding this has been drafted by the MCD and was recently presented before Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta.

The plan of action includes installing waste collection bins at all Games venues in areas under its jurisdiction, deploying mechanical sweepers and removing construction waste from across the Capital. The plan will also ensure that during the Games there is no unattended and uncollected waste and that no municipal solid-waste waste is found in any area, including the unauthorised colonies.

As per the plan, while the Games Organising Committee will be responsible for the primary waste collection and the MCD will collect the waste from the site where OC disposes it. The MCD will also undertake sweeping inside and around the venue.

The MCD will also install ‘Deep Collection System’ bins, which will be partially above and partially below the ground level. This will ensure the waste is “not approachable” for rag-pickers and stray animals. The waste from these bins will be collected mechanically through cranes. It has also been decided to install 68 Deep Collection System bins at 20 locations in city zone and nine locations in Sadar-Paharganj zone.

The Corporation has also come up with a novel remedy to ensure the safai karmcharis do their work properly. In order to “develop a sense of duty, responsibility amongst safai karmcharis, it has been decided to make them wear aprons and caps during their duty hours till the Games,” said a source in the Ministry of Urban Development-Delhi.

About their plans during the mega sporting event, a senior MCD official said it would be “decided upon when the time arrives”.

“We want to keep the city clean at all times. However, we are even yet to begin work on the current plan and the plan of action after October will be decided when the right time comes,” he said.

Pay conversion charges at special MCD counters
The central zone of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has set up 24 special counters to assist residents in payment of conversion and parking charges.

June 30 is the deadline for the payment and the camps, set up on Tuesday, will function till the end of the month.

The central zone has also deployed its trained staff to assist people in calculating and depositing due conversion charges for mixed land use. The zone has already collected Rs 275 crore.

Traders who do not pay the conversion charge for mixed land use, as per the Masterplan 2021 guidelines, will have to face penal action, the corporation has said. Their properties may also be sealed.

The MCD had collected around Rs 811 crore as conversion charges from across all 12 zones till May.

The central zone also demolished seven unauthorised constructions in Sangam Vihar, NDSE-I and Tughlakabad Extension on Wednesday.

Games security check will have to wait, till August

Deployment of at least 1,400 personnel from the central paramilitary forces, who were to conduct checks and seal all Commonwealth Games venues from April, has been put on hold till August 1.

The forces, including the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Border Security Force (BSF), were to perform anti-sabotage checks to secure the venues at least six months in advance.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had decided on the deployment of forces after intelligence agencies received inputs on the possibility that militants could plant improvised explosive devices inside the venues, which would be timed to trigger months later during the Games this October. The CISF had done a security audit of all 36 venues earlier this year and recommended that personnel from various paramilitary forces and the Delhi Police be deployed at the venues from April 1 and bar public entry till the Games begin.

Speaking to Newsline, Special Adviser to the Games Ramesh Narayanswamy said some venues will still take time to be completed. “The paramilitary forces will not seal the venues before August 1. Once they begin the exercise, no movement will be allowed inside the venues,” he said.

Once the venues are sealed, only authorised personnel will be allowed entry using security access passes. Strict security measures will be put in place to screen even authorised entrants at various levels.

According to sources, however, the Delhi Police has said it cannot provide accommodation and vehicles for all paramilitary personnel in advance. Top sources now say the forces would not be deployed before September.

In the original plan, 600 CISF men were to be deployed from April at the five most sensitive Games venues — Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Siri Fort Sports Complex, Games Village, IGI Stadium and Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

At least 500 CRPF personnel were to guard another 15 venues, including Talkatora Indoor Stadium, Yamuna Sports Complex and Shivaji Stadium. While 125 personnel from the ITBP were to take over four other venues, including Jamia Millia Islamia and Thyagaraj Sports Complex, 140 SSB personnel were to guard three venues, including the R K Khanna Sports Complex.

In March this year, CISF Director General N R Das had announced, “The CISF will be part of a composite security mechanism ... working along with the Delhi Police. 500 men will guard the five venues from April 1. A month before the Games, our 4,000 men and 300 commandos will be pressed into action.”

The venues were to be handed over to the Games Organising Committee in September, when NSG commandos, along with 5,000 CISF personnel, will be deployed.

Amritsar prepares to receive baton

Amritsar: Preparations are on in full swing at the Attari Border to receive the Queen’s Baton on Friday. The Indian Olympic Association (IOC) has organised a grand cultural programme to welcome the baton which will finally enter India after covering 70 Commonwealth countries. The baton reached Pakistan from Bangladesh on Wednesday. IOC vice-chief Abhey Chautala crossed over to Pakistan on Wednesday to represent India in the functions there.

12 days of Games, legacy for lifetime

The Asian Games in 1982 got Delhi some flyovers, five-star hotels and modern stadia.

“(But) with Commonwealth Games (CWG), Delhi will undergo a mighty metamorphosis,” said Union Minister for Urban Development, S Jaipal Reddy.

Widening of roads, spreading out the Metro network in Delhi and NCR towns, building elevated roads, streetscaping and of course, bringing up mega stadia — the Urban Development Ministry has spent Rs 18,000 crore to spruce up Delhi for the Games.

“We have to look at long-term infrastructure gains. Legacy of Games would be remembered for decades to come,” Reddy said at the HT Conclave.

Detractors claim a lot of money has been wasted; Reddy countered, “CWG is only a peg for big infrastructure projects, which are need for Delhi anyway. ”

Book your tickets now

This time round, no name-dropping or jugaad of any kind will help you if you have not purchased tickets for any of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) related events.

“Two days ago, I got a call from a VVIP asking me to keep 20 tickets for him and his family. Then another lot called asking for 18 tickets. People are apprehensive that they might not get the kinds of tickets that they want,” Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said at the HT Conclave on Wednesday.

So, Dikshit said, she rang up the office of Games’ Organising Committee chairperson Suresh Kalmadi. “This should be a lesson for Kalmadiji. People are itching to see the Games. We need to advertise where the tickets are being sold. I wouldn’t have got the calls had the sale of tickets been advertised better,” she added.  

The tickets are selling like hot cakes with people from every nook and corner of the country and even from abroad booking tickets online for the much-awaited event to be held from October 3.

Kalmadi said, “Tickets are almost sold out … but now we may extend it for a few days on CM’s demand. People, please book it now.”

Focus not just on Games, but sport

Olympic bronze-medallist in boxing Vijender Singh loves to be in Delhi.

“Yeh hai Dilli meri jaan,” is what he believes in. He also feels the Commonwealth Games will be a great opportunity to motivate youngsters to take up an Olympic sport like boxing, badminton, wrestling and shooting.

“What we should really think about is how to leverage the Games to spread sporting culture in the country.”

Singh, however, is of the view that focus on sports should not end with the Games.

“A lot of money might have been spent on the the Games, but in Patiala we still train in a tin-roof hall without air-conditioners. Imagine that when the temperatures soar to 45 degree Celsius.”

Dikshit seeks public support for Games

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit Wednesday sought people's cooperation for the successful conduct of the Commonwealth Games in October, admitting that the government was nervous over the mega-event.

"The government is both confident and nervous (about the success of the Games)... We delayed it (earlier)... However, things are doing well," Dikshit said at a conference My Delhi, My Game here.

The chief minister also exhorted the people to showcase the city's rich culture during the Oct 3-14 Games when thousands of visitors are expected to throng the city.

Asked about maintenance of the CWG property after the games, she said the responsibility lies with the residents of the city.

To a query about the position of Delhi to host Olympics Games in the future, she said the potential of the city to host any big event would be more visible after the October event ends.

The infrastructure projects and security have been "taken care of", she added.

Speaking at the conference, Union Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said: "There are people who think that we are spending a lot on the Games, but the fact is big projects under the CWG banner are needed for Delhi's growth."

"The infrastructure will remain as the legacy of the CWG forever," she said.

According to Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, about two lakh people were employed because of the Games. Much of the resources will be generated through sale of television rights besides sale of tickets and merchandise.

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