Thursday, July 8, 2010

For Village security, school razed

In an attempt to secure the Commonwealth Games Village, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Wednesday razed a school on the Yamuna Khadar, right behind the Akshardham Temple. The school catered to about 180 children of farmers and labourers working in and around the river bed.

Parminder Kaur Somal, who started the school four years back and was teaching here said, DDA had given them no prior notice and arrived with their bulldozers around noon. "The classes were in progress when the DDA team, accompanied by police personnel, arrived at the school. They gave us three hours to clear out and then brought the building down. One official also said if we would furnish an affidavit saying the school would only be reopened after the Games, it could be spared but what could we have done in three hours,'' she said.

While officials maintained the building was totally illegal and no structures were permitted on the river bed, those associated with the school pointed out that compared to the number of unauthorized structures that had come up on the river bed, many of them with the sanction of the government, this was only providing education to poor children who otherwise would never be able to afford going to school. "The government should have thought about giving the children an alternative space at least. If we had known about their plans to demolish the structure any earlier, we could have tried moving out to another place,'' said Somal.

She said eight acres land had been leased to the Delhi Peasant Society in 1949 for a period of 99 years and they had a stay order from the high court prohibiting any further construction in the area. "We have been running classes from nursery to V. Some children who passed out from here have also joined MCD schools. We were working with eight teachers and some volunteers. Now the children have again been left high and dry. We can't imagine what security threat they could have posed to the Games Village,'' said Somal.

Commonwealth Games test events may be hit

There is a good chance that four Commonwealth Games test events lined up for this month may not be held as per schedule because of unavailability of venues.

An international invitational weightlifting event (July 14 to 16), a Federation Cup cycling event (July 23 to 25), an international swimming meet (July 27 to 31) and an Asian all-star athletics meet (July 29 and 30) are all expected to be postponed because different venues are still not ready.

All venues were scheduled to be completed by June 30 and the officials had been claiming all along that if at all this latest deadline would be missed, it would be only by some days. It is learnt that the venues are still running behind schedule and with less than three months left for the CWG to start, it will be another setback.

“It is not yet clear when these venues will be fit to hold competitions. The rains, too, are likely to have a direct or indirect bearing on the progress,” said an official.

All these events are already behind time, what with the deadlines for sports venues being revised time and again. An Asian youth netball meet, currently on in the environment friendly Thyagaraj Stadium, might remain the only test event scheduled for July to be held as planned.

The athletics and weightlifting events will take place at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium complex, which will also be the venue for the CWG opening and closing ceremonies.

The Indira Gandhi Stadium complex is being prepared for weightlifting and cycling, while the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee complex is being readied for swimming.

Labour woes affect DDA Games plans

Harvesting of rabi crops, which starts from March is a fairly common phenomenon across the country. But this time around when the winter harvests started in Bihar, its ripple affect was felt in Delhi, host to the prestigious Commonwealth Games in October this year. With most construction workers,hailing from Bihar, heading back home for rabi or winter harvests in April, work on one of the key Commonwealth Games project - readying accommodation for games delegates and tourists - has been running way behind schedule. It was to be completed by June end.

Now, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the city's largest land development agency,  which was tasked to convert 3179 of its upcoming flats in Vasant Kunj, an upscale locality in south-west Delhi and Jasola in south Delhi to service apartments,  is frantically hunting for construction workers from states like West Bengal and Orissa to complete the project on time.

"Though the structure is ready, finishing work inside the flats is yet to be completed and this takes time," said an Urban Development Ministry official on conditions of anonymity.

Of the 8,000 construction workers at the two sites, presently only 2,500 are working. This has resulted in a huge shortfall, which is delaying the completion.

"It's a common phenomenon in the construction industry that workers go back home during the harvest season. They start coming back by July. But DDA should have factored this in before starting the project. Its another example of skewed planning by the agency," said the official.

The delay has set alarm bells ringing in the government. The issue came up in the Group of Ministers meeting recently where a contingency plan was worked out.

"As part of this, DDA has been asked to hire workers from states like West Bengal and Orissa. Also they have been asked get workers from other Commonwealth Games project sites where work has been completed. We are hopeful that the project would be completed before October," said a ministry official.

‘Beautify’ Delhi before Commonwealth Games: OC

After the hardware, comes the software! The Organising Committee (OC) of the Commonwealth Games on Thursday asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to 'beautify' the city. The OC wants Delhi to look like a city ready for the Commonwealth Games. It wants the MCD to re-paint all flyovers so
that they sport a brand new look; it wants all official buildings to carry the CWG logo; it also wants the civic body to erect beautifully-decorated gates at all seven entry points to the national capital.

“The OC told us to take such measures so that Delhi looks like a city ready for the Games,” said Mayor Prithviraj Sawhney.

The MCD, on its part, was quick to come up with a budget proposal of Rs 7 crore, which it claims, should come from the Delhi government.

“There is a severe cash crunch in MCD. We would prepare a report and send it to the Delhi government tomorrow, asking for money,” Sawhney said. “We would take up this work only after our main work is over,” he added.

Slow pace of projects worries Sheila

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and two of her cabinet ministers are not happy with the speed the Commonwealth Games projects are being completed. While Dikshit inspected the Barapulla elevated road, her two colleagues - Finance Minister Ashok Kumar Walia and Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely -
inspected several projects being taken up in east Delhi.

"We are worried (about the completion of the projects). The coordination with other agencies takes lot of time," Dikshit said. Meanwhile, her colleagues expressed their unhappiness at the speed several projects, especially streetscaping work was being carried out along the roads the athletes will take from the Games village to one of the sporting venues at the Yamuna sports complex.

"There is lot of work pending and time is very less. The monsoon has also arrived. We are really concerned," Walia said. "We have apprised the chief minister of the situation."

The two ministers were also concerned about mounds of debris and garbage lying on the roads leading to Games Village and Yamuna Sports Complex and along the National Highway 24.

“Regular monitoring is required. We will again visit the sites after 10 days,” Lovely said. Walia instructed the public works department to complete construction of parking site and Vikas Marg by July end.

A K Walia unhappy with speed, quality of CWG-related projects

Expressing displeasure over delay in Commonwealth Games-related projects, Delhi Urban Development and Finance Minister A K Walia today exhorted the authorities concerned to deploy more workers to complete the work by the end of this month.

During a visit to various CWG-related projects sites, being executed by Public Works Department (PWD) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in Trans Yamuna Area, Dr Walia was also unhappy about mounds of garbage lying over the roads leading to Games Village and Yamuna Sports Complex and NH-24, a statement issued here said.

Mr Walia was accompanied by Delhi Education and Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely.

were not set right, it may harm prestige of the nation.

''This area is too close to Games Village where large number of foreign players and officials will be putting up. In case the things are not set right, it may harm prestige of the nation,'' the statement from the ministry said.

''The challenge is formidable and an extra effort and deployment of more workers will help in accomplishing the works,'' it added.

The site beneath the flyover on MB Road leading to Akshardham Temple also was not very pleasant with only few workers deployed to take up huge street scaping work on both sides of the flyover.

The road leading to Games Village was also found to be of sub-standard as large number of potholes were evident.

''Even the road near Akshardham Metro Station is giving unpleasant look. A large quantity of unattended work has been noticed,'' it said.

The Ministers also found the approach of the DDA engineers as casual and decided to take up the issue with the Vice-Chairman DDA.

Situation was somewhat similar in the Yamuna Sports Complex where greenery exercise was yet to be taken up by the DDA and swimming pool is far away from completion.

Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely announced that DTC would install 1000 bus shelters from second week of July after proper levelling and construction of footpaths.

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