Thursday, June 24, 2010

Commonwealth Games a platform to exhibit positive behaviour: Shahbaz

Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif has said that he does not expect the Queen Baton’s Relay (QBR) and the Commonwealth Games (CWG) to make any diplomatic breakthroughs, however this event is an opportunity to exhibit friendly and positive behaviour for all the participating nations.

Addressing a ceremony held to honour the QBR Director General Raj Kadyan, Commonwealth Games Member Organising Committee Mangalam Singh and veteran sportsmen and women who will be relaying the Queen’s Baton, the chief minister said that the Commonwealth Games were a unique event which united the shared link among the participating countries. He said that the QBT journey celebrated this event of sports and culture and delivered the message of Commonwealth’s camaraderie wherever it went. It binds all the 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth with the solitary message of ‘peace and harmony through sports,’ he added.

The CM wished the Indian government and organisers best of luck for the event and assured them complete cooperation by the Pakistanis on each and every front. He thanked the Pakistan Olympic Association President Lt Gen (retd) Syed Arif Hassan for his dedicated efforts for the promotion of sports.

CWG Member Organizing Committee Mangalam Singh lauded the hospitality of the Pakistan Olympic Association and thanked the chief minister for gracing the event with his presence. He said the CWG was meant for strengthening the bond between 71 nations and the most beautiful way of teaching competitiveness with tolerance and friendship. He said that the QBR symbolised a message of peace and harmony traveling through 71 countries.

India's biggest sporting extravaganza rolls out

Get ready for India’s biggest sporting extravaganza. On Thursday, the organising committee of the Commonwealth Games 2010 unveiled the plans for the handover of the Queen’s Baton from the Pakistan Olympic Association.

From an elaborate cultural extravaganza that will see Pakistani singing icon Rahat Fateh Ali create a cultural fusion with Indian qawali stars, the Wadali brothers, to the handover of the baton to India’s sporting star and Olympic medalist Vijender Singh and woman boxing legend Mary Kom, the show promises to be a fitting curtain-raiser to the Delhi Games 2010 in October.

Talking about the handover of the baton, OC head Suresh Kalmadi said, “It is a matter of immense pride for the entire nation. The Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 Delhi will act as a great unifying force for the country. We have broken ground for more sportspersons (to participate) but most important, we are here at the Mecca of the Sikhs to receive the baton.” The enthusiasm of the state participants was more than apparent as a host of local dignitaries, including Navjot Singh Sidhu, turned out to welcome the unveiling of OC plans. The Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 will enter India from the Wagah Border on June 25, and will be handed over to the Indian Olympic Association president, Kalmadi. The baton will thereafter be handed down to CWG president Michael Fennell, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and several other senior government officials.

For sports enthusiasts though, it will be the handing over of the baton to India’s Olympic medalist, Vijender Singh, followed by Mary Kom that’s bound to raise spirits. The relay will officially be started by Singh and Kom. Speculation is rife that a sportstar from the Pakistan sporting arena will also be part of the show, and will help the Pakistan Olympic Association president hand over the baton.

After the handover on Friday, the baton will travel through over 100 cities, using various modes of transport. From Punjab, it will be travelling to J&K and onwards, before reaching Delhi on September 30.

Few sponsors, OC ok with terms

It might not be as big a deal as sponsorship of the Indian cricket team but the organising committee (OC) seems more than satisfied with the terms, especially as it faces a scarcity of sponsors. Reebok, the international sportswear company, is to sponsor the uniforms of the Indian contingent at the Commonwealth Games 2010. The sponsorship, worth Rs 10 crore, is in the form of kits and accessories like shoes for the team, said OC secretary-general, Lalit Bhanot.

The sponsorship, which will have 750 Indian athletes sport the logo on all their apparel and kit, even casual wear, comes at a time when the OC has been desperately looking for sponsors. According to sources, the Committee had earlier come out with a request for proposal (RFP) for uniforms which had got dismal results. Said a senior OC official, ‘‘The only company which showed interest in sponsoring was Reebok. They wanted the Indian team to sport the logo, and sponsor their uniform. So the sponsorship deal was signed with them.’’ On being questioned, Bhanot admitted that the show major would be sponsoring three competition kits, two training kits, bags, accessories, shoes as well as the casual wear for the athletes and the technical officials who will be accompanying the team. Added Bhanot, ‘‘Its a value in kind (VIK) deal with Reebok. We are happy with the sponsorship.’’ Interestingly, the OC has also awarded a contract to the same company for uniforms for OC officials and volunteers, starting from the national sector of the Queens Baton Relay (QBR).

This contract is worth Rs 10 crore. This will include providing apparel and other sportswear to around 33,000 OC officials including volunteers and maintenance staff. OC has been looking for sponsors for some time now. After Hero Honda, which signed on as a co-partner with the Games, and the Indian Railways, the only other company to sign on has been Coca Cola. Sources say OC is also hoping to rope in Tata Motors as sponsors for the national sector of the Queen’s Baton Relay. Tata Motors will be providing the vehicles that form part of the convoy. Said a senior OC official, ‘‘The deal has not been finalized yet, but we are in talks with the company to associate with the QBR through sponsorship of the convoy vehicle.’’ If the motor company comes on board, it would be the second such company after Hero Honda. Till now, the OC has not been able to generate as much revenue from sponsorships and other avenues as had been expected. While it earned around Rs 300 crore from TV rights, it got a Rs 100 crore deal from the Indian Railways. The loan taken by the OC for conducting the Games meanwhile is Rs 1,620 crore.

Run for Commonwealth Games tomorrow

In the run up to the Commonwealth Games 2010, The Times of India, in association with Chandigarh-based pharma company Fenfuro that manufactures innovative diabetes management products, is organizing a run in cities like Chandigarh, Ambala, Jalandhar, Ludhaina, Shimla, Jammu and Srinagar.

The run, which already took place in Amritsar on June 20, has been a grand success in the city. Next in line are events that would be organized in Chandigarh and Jalandhar on June 26. The Times of India has invited all residents to participate in the event and make it a huge success. The run will start from Sukhna Lake at 6.30 am and culminate at Bougainvillea garden.

In Jalandhar, the run will start from DPS, Jalandhar, and culminate at Viva Collage Mall. Cash prizes for first three positions and early bird T-shirts will be an added attraction for the participants. The events have been co-sponsored by Viva Collage Mall, Jalandhar, and Leader Bicycles, Ludhiana. Verka is the beverage partner.

DMRC fast-tracks Badarpur line for September finish

The Central Secretariat-Badarpur Metro corridor is expected to meet its Commonwealth Games deadline with the Delhi Metro putting work on the fast-track on this 20-km stretch. With plans to commission the line by September, the DMRC announced on Thursday that trial runs on a section of the corridor could begin by July 1.

“We are planning to lower four coaches of a standard gauge train at the ramp located between Jangpura and Lajpat Nagar this Saturday night. Initially, trials will be conducted on the 9-km stretch between Central Secretariat and Lajpat Nagar, they will be gradually extended to other sections as they get ready,” said a DMRC spokesperson.

“It will take a few days to assemble the train and trials should begin by July 1,” he added.

The DMRC has undertaken this special procedure for the first time and it is expected to save at least a month’s time.

The coaches will be brought from the Mundka depot on special trailers and permissions have been sought from the Delhi Traffic Police to divert traffic near Defence Colony and Moolchand flyovers from 11 pm on Saturday till 6 am on Sunday.

The 20-km Line 6 of the Metro network will eventually be integrated with the existing Line 2 (Central Secretariat-Jahangirpuri). But as Line 2 is built on broad gauge, the new underground station constructed alongside the existing one will serve as an easy interchange point once the new line comes up.

“Walls of the existing Central Secretariat station will be pulled down to merge it with the new station. It will provide an access between the concourse and the platform levels of the two stations,” said DMRC spokesperson Anuj Dayal.

“Once completed, this will be the only Metro station in the world with two gauges,” he added.

Games an opportunity to showcase Indian history, culture, says Kalmadi

The Queen’s Baton Relay which reached Pakistan on Wednesday will be handed over to the Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi on Friday at the Attari border by Pakistan Olympics Association chief Syed Arif Hassan. A rehearsal for the reception was held on Thursday at the border according to protocol with India and Pakistan officials amid high security.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Congress leader Sachin Pilot and Commonwealth Games Chief Executive Officer Mike Hooper will attend the reception of the Baton on Friday. Earlier, while addressing the media, Kalmadi said Mike Fennell, Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation, will be the chief guest on the ocassion.

“We are thankful to Pakistan as without their help we could not have won the bid for Commonwealth Games. Tomorrow’s reception of the Baton will also be a new chapter for the Indo-Pak friendship,” said Kalmadi adding that he was happy that Punjab, which has produced some great sportspersons, is the first state to host the Baton.

He said the Games are the country’s biggest sports extravaganza after the Asian Games. It is an opportunity for India to showcase its cultural and history before the world, he said, adding that holding such big events are not the prerogative of the developed countries alone.

On the criticism over the arrangements falling apart, he said the critics will be silenced once everything is finalised.

“The opening and closing ceremonies will be remarkable and those who witnessed the Beijing’s Olympics would have us to make comparisons,” boasted Kalmadi, flanked by BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, Punjab Olympics Association general secretary Raja Sidhu, MP and Games’ Media Committee Chairman Tarlochan Singh. After receiving the Baton, it would be handed over to the winner of the Olympics bronze medal Vijender Singh and women world boxing champion Mary Kom to start the Indian leg of the relay, said Raja Sidhu.

Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mayor Shawet Malik will receive the baton on the outskirts of the city to take it to the Golden Temple, Durgiana Mandir and finally to the Company Bagh. “This is a historic occasion and a cause for celebrations,” said Kalmadi. Tarlochan Singh said the Wadali brothers from India and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan from Pakistan will recite qawwalis at the border.

Queen’s Baton Relay

The Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) is an enduring tradition of Commonwealth Games. It was introduced in 1958 games in Cardiff, Wales. In 1998 Games, held at Kuala Lumpur, the QBR traveled to other Commonwealth countries for the first time. The Baton has evolved into the symbol of unity and diversity of the Commonwealth nations. The Queen’s Baton 2010 Delhi has been created by using the triangular section of aluminum which is twisted in the form of a helix and is coated with soil in graduating pattern. A message from the Queen is engraved on a 18 karat gold leaf, using the modern laser technology know as micro calligraphy. The Baton is 664 millimeters high, 34 millimeters wide at base and 86 millimeters at top and weighs 1,900 grams. It has a GPS fixed to it and can be traced where ever it goes. The LEDs fixed on it display the flag of the country where it is traveling.

Baton showcases power of sport to bridge societies

There are a hundred days to go for the start of the XIX Commonwealth Games. What a lovely day it promises to be, with us assembling at the Wagah Border to receive the Queen’s Baton 2010 Delhi from Pakistan after travelling to 69 nations across the Commonwealth over 240 days.

I am excited that we are witnessing the power of sport to be a bridge between societies. Our colleagues in the Pakistan Olympic Association have always offered us great support—helping us in November 2003 to win the bid to host the Games and standing by us through thick and thin, seeing themselves as co-hosts. I am confident, therefore, that Indo-Pakistan sport will remain an important connect between the peoples of the two great nations.

I am delighted that the Baton has completed a remarkable journey over 170,000 km on the international sector from the time it was launched in Buckingham Palace on October 29, 2009 by Queen Elizabeth II in the presence of President Smt. Pratibha Patil.

The Baton has passed through the hands of numerous Heads of State and leaders, ace athletes and common folk. It has been to iconic locations, been to parks that speak out for conservation of flora and fauna in keeping with our resolve to host the first Green Games. It has been exposed to a variety of modes of transport and has encapsulated the diversity of the Commonwealth.

But more importantly, it has demonstrated the remarkable power of sport to unite the Commonwealth. It is a powerful tool that can strengthen social ties and networks, and promotes ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice — all that independent India has stood for.

It has also acted as an ambassador for the Delhi Commonwealth Games, inviting the athletes from far off lands to come here for the celebrations of the Games. Back home in India, as it covers 20,000 km over the next 100 days, the Baton will be a wonderful opportunity for us to instill a greater sense of national pride in ourselves and to promote Olympic sport.

I must thank the Governments of each state and UT for being an integral part of this project that will touch millions of people. I am sure the Baton can and will be the launch pad for the creation of a greater sense of sports consciousness in the country. On this milestone day, with just 100 days to go for the curtain to go up on the biggest sporting spectacle in India, the Organising Committee renews it commitment to hosting not just a successful Games but also a grand and memorable one.

Queen's Baton Relay for 2010 CWG to arrive in India on Friday

The city of Golden Temple is all geared up to welcome the Queen's Baton Relay's entry to India from Pakistan through Wagah-Attari border on Friday before it embarks on a 100-day national tour to culminate in New Delhi for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The QBR, which was launched by Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace in London on October 29 last year in the presence of Indian President Pratibha Patil, is nearing the end of its 190,000-kilometer journey covering 71 nations and territories across the world.

Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the CWG Organising Committee, will receive the baton from Pakistan Olympic Association President Lt Gen Syed Arif Hassan at the international border, where the Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell will also be present.

"Fennell will be arriving here specially to attend the programme, which will see the beginning of 20,000-kilometer journey touching all the states and union territories of the country," Kalmadi said at a press conference here today.

Four-time world boxing champion Mary Kom and Olympic bronze medallist pugilist Vijender Singh will be among the star sportspersons to attend the hand-over ceremony of the QBR, which will culminate at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on October 3, the opening day of the quadrennial multi-discipline sporting extravaganza.

After receiving the baton at the international border, Kalmadi will hand it over to the athletes present there who will then pass it on to Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while his Delhi counterpart Sheila Dikshit will also attend the function.

Former India cricketer and Amritsar MP Navjyot Singh Sindhu and the city Mayor will take it through various places in the city, including the famous Golden Temple and Durgiana Temple.

Performance by late Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's son Rahat Ali and the Indian Sufi singers, the Wadali brothers will then enthrall the audience present there.

After Amritsar, the baton will pass through other cities of Punjab, including Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Pathankot before entering Jammu and Kashmir by the end of this month.

"I am happy that the baton is arriving first in Punjab which has produced a number of international sportspersons in various disciplines. The QBR has generated good response in all the countries it has passed through so far and I expect all the Indians will be the part of this great journey," Kalmadi said.

A commemorative postage stamp will also be released on the occasion on Friday.

The baton, which will be under the security cover given by a 90-strong team through its journey touching over 400 cities and villages in India, will spread the message of love and friendship, said Kalmadi, also the chief of Indian Olympic Association.

Railways to run Technology Express to popularise IT

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday announced that a special express train will be launched just after the October Commonwealth Games to promote information technology (IT) across the country.

"The train, named Technology Express will be launched from Kharagpur (West Bengal
) after the Commonwealth Games to raise awareness about information technology in remote areas and small towns," Banerjee announced at the flagging off ceremony of the Commonwealth Express here.

The minister said the help of Indian Institutes of Technology will also be taken for the purpose.

The Commonwealth Express has 14 coaches, including five dedicated to sports and October 3-14 Games and six to IT.

Holiday on Games closing day for Central govt offices in Delhi

All central government offices including Public Sector Undertakings in the national capital will remain closed on October 14 -- the day of the Closing Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday approved a proposal to this effect. Delhi Government has already declared October 14 as a holiday.

The opening Ceremony of the mega event will be held on October 3 which is a Sunday while the Closing Ceremony falls on Thursday. Both the ceremonies will be held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

"The Union Cabinet today approved declaration of a holiday for Central Government offices, including Central Public Sector Undertakings, located in Delhi on October 14," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said after the meeting.

The holiday has been declared as per the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

She said the decision will facilitate the movement of traffic and ensure greater participation of public in the Closing Ceremony. The Games are scheduled to be held in the city from October 3 to 14.

Sources said Centre is likely to request governments of the neighbouring states to consider declaring October 14 a holiday for educational institutions and government offices in areas that fall under the National Capital Region.

Delhi ready for Commonwealth Games: Kalmadi

With the Commonwealth Games 100 days away, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi is confident that Delhi is ready for the October 3-14 Games and the most successful one at that.

"India is ready for the Commonwealth Games in every way, whether it is infrastructure or organisationaly," Kalmadi said Thursday on the eve of the Queen's Baton Relay ceremony Friday at Attari, 30 km from here on the India-Pakistan border.

"There are 34 functionaries working to make the Games successful including the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games," Kalmadi said.

Kalmadi said India will host one of the best Games ever.

"So far, it was only Australia and England when it came to the hosting of the Commonwealth Games. And it is the first time that a developing country has got a chance to host the Games. We are going to show that we can successfully host such a big event," he said.

"It is a great occasion for us for the baton to come to India after traveling 170,000 km. With only 100 days left for the start of the Games, the baton will travel 20,000 km in India."

A colourful function will be organised to welcome the baton at Attari at which the Pakistan Olympic Association chief Syed Arif Hassan will hand over the baton to Kalmadi.

Pakistani Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, Indian Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Congress leader Sachin Pilot, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chairman Michael Fennell and CGF Chief Executive Officer Mike Hooper will attend the ceremony.

The baton, with a message from Britain's Queen Elizabeth
inscribed on it, will be handed over to Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh and four-time women's World boxing champion Mary Kom to start the Indian leg of the relay.

Thereafter, the Punjab leg would begin when Badal hands over the baton, which will be borne by 250 sportspersons of the state in the next three days.

The baton, covering most states and union territories, will reach New Delhi Sep 30.

Mamata flags off Commonwealth Games Express

The excitement about the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, just almost three months away, gained more momentum today with Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee flagging off the Special Commonwealth Express, an exhibition train, from Safdarjung Railway station here.

Ms Banerjee was accompanied by Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa along with Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Minister of State for Communications and Technology, Sachin Pilot, On its inaugural run, the air-conditioned exhibition train with 11 coaches left for Amritsar, to reach there on June 25, to coincide with the arrival of the Queen's baton from Wagah at the Indo-Pak border.

Covering 48 stations all over the country, the train will terminate its journey on October 2, a day ahead of commencement of CWG, at the Safdarjung station and will be stationed there till the end of the Games for the general public to view.

Five coaches of the train are dedicated to sports and the Commonwealth Games and six coaches carry exhibits displaying the latest developments in information technology.

The sports coaches showcase the history of the CWG, along with the details of the venues where various events will be held, countries participating therein, details of sports along with equipment and information on the sporting icons of the country.

The coaches dedicated to IT narrate the story of IT and communication technology and how it touches our lives in a significant manner.

Ms Banerjee, taking pride in her department's effort in taking CWG to the people by means of this train listed the contribution of the Railways in the field of sports.

The Railways Minister said the Railways had allocated Rs 100 cr in its budget for CWG and added that she was proud her department was the leading partner in the Games.

It is to be noted that there are 129 Arjuna awardees, 16 Padama Shri, 5 Dhyanchand, 4 Dronacharya awardees from Railways. It also has the most prestigious individual awards in sports-3 Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Puraskar awardees in the Railways family.

Interestingly, in the last CWG at Melbourne in 2006, Indian Railways sportspersons won 2 gold and six silver medals. Of the Indian Hockey team, 14 out of 16 members were from Indian Railways itself, which won the silver medal.

A message from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh read before the gathering said, "I am happy to know that the Indian Railways has decided to run an exhibition train on the forthcoming CWG at Delhi and India's progress in IT. This effort of the Railways will help in spreading the message of the Games across our diverse country, especially among the youth. I hope large numbers of our countrymen will get to see and benefit from the exhibition train in its long journey." Dr Singh complimented the Indian Railways 'on this unique initiative' and wished them all success.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit thanked Ms Banerjee for promoting CWG in this manner. "Foreign tourists will come for sure but this train will also attract people from round the country which will give Delhi immense pleasure," she said.

Sachin Pilot expressed happiness that while the train will promote CWG, it will also promote IT and appealed to the people to conduct themselves and welcome the guests with same courtesy and warmth which people of Delhi are known for.

100 days to go, Delhi all set for CWG

Just 100 days are left for the Commonwealth Games to begin. As the Indian capital gears to host its largest sporting extravaganza, the crucial pieces are beginning to fall in place - albeit a little late in some cases. Stadia are getting completed, Metro links becoming operational, security plans finalised and related infrastructure projects nearing completion.

The organising committee is confident of putting up a good show for the October 3-14 Games, for which a whopping Rs.15,000 crore (Rs.150 billion/over USD 3 billion) has been allocated. Its confidence is boosted by the successful completion of recent international sporting events - hockey, shooting, boxing as well as IPL cricket matches in the capital - which were considered test events for the Games.

The Games will have 17 disciplines to be held at six venue clusters and five stand-alone stadia in the metropolis of 17 million people, one of the most crowded in the world. A majority of the stadia have been inaugurated, but there still remains a question mark over completion of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held.

The sale of tickets started early this month, and the official ticketing agency, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC), is expecting to sell 1.7 million tickets.

The Indian government has assured that all work related to the Games will be completed in time.

"I am chairman of the Group of Ministers on the Commonwealth Games and I can say with confidence that all projects related to the Games will completed by June end," Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said last week.

Despite the minister's assurance, some areas are a cause of worry.

Over 100,000 visitors are expected during the Games, but there is a shortfall in the number of rooms ready for them. According to official figures, 40,000 rooms are required. But so far the government is sure of only about 8,227 of the 10,981 "definite"' rooms.

The Delhi government and civic bodies are running against time to complete Games-related projects - roads, flyovers, bridges, underpasses, parking places, beautification and street scaping - to make the capital look like - what the authorities never tire of saying "a world-class city".

Of the total 24 infrastructure-related projects, 10 have been completed while the rest are likely to be completed by July.

The Public Works Department (PWD) is behind in completing the street-scaping work. At some main city roads in south Delhi, street-scaping work is progressing at a snail's pace with roadsides and footpaths dug up and rubble strewn all around.

The civic body is also carrying out 40 Games-related projects worth Rs.1,000 crore (Rs.10 billion/USD 225 million). They include construction of parking facility in various parts of the city as well as the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

A cause of major concern is Delhi's chaotic traffic and the poor public transport system. The authorities have decided to have dedicated lanes forthe Games traffic to ensure quick movement.

"The Games lanes will be marked with paint, just like the bus lanes are now," Ajay Chaddha, Joint Commissioner (Traffic), told IANS. "There will be relevant signages too. We will be providing regular guidelines and information on whetherthe Games lanes are operational and at what time. The lanes will be for movement of Games officials, athletes and other related traffic."

Delhi Metro, the capital's showpiece which is expected to cater to thousands of spectators during the Games, is the only agency running ahead of others in completing its projects.

The only Metro projects that remain to be completed before the Games are the Central Secretariat-Badarpur line and Airport Express Link. Both are scheduled to be completed by September.

The Indira Gandhi International Airport will have a brand new Terminal 3 (T3) with world class facilities. It will be formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh July 3.

Several countries scheduled to participate in the Games have raised concerns over security, but the government has firmly said that they need not have any fears. The authorities have approved installation of an integrated security system (ISS), estimated to cost Rs.370 crore (Rs 3.7 billion/85 million USD), to cover all the venues.

According to Delhi Police commissioner Y.S. Dadwal, the police are "totally prepared" for the Commonwealth Games and have promised "an absolutely safe" sporting event.

The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee is training 30,000 volunteers to present Delhi's culture and etiquette to visitors. The authorities are also training thousands of bus, taxi, and auto drivers to converse in English and be tourist-friendly.

A big worry is the air quality during the Games, being touted as the first Green Games.

The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, has developed a System of Air Pollution Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) that will start functioning in a couple of months. The IITM is expected to put up 60 weather stations across the capital to generate hourly weather updates duringthe Games.

Delhi environment secretary Dharmendra has said the government may close industries during the Games to reduce pollution levels.

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