Friday, July 9, 2010

Ahead of Games, Ghaziabad, Noida on terror hitlist

Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurgaon may see terror attacks in July and August. Following phone intercepts of terrorists’ conversations, a terror alert has been declared in these areas of the National Capital Region (NCR) .

According to the alert from the Union Home Ministry, the terrorists’ plan is to cause panic in the area ahead of the Commonwealth Games and induce the participating countries to withdraw, said an official of the state Anti-Terror Squad (ATS).

Last week, the ministry had convened a meeting of senior ATS officials to share information and discuss steps to foil the terrorists’ plan. Some of the intercepts were played before senior officials to apprise them of the seriousness of the threat, said the official.

Director General of Police Karamvir Singh said he was not aware of any specific alert regarding the Commonwealth Games.

The state Home Secretary Deepak Kumar, however, said Chief Secretary Atul Kumar Gupta held a meeting recently to discuss security during the Games. Directives to step up security have been issued in the NCR and to the concerned agencies.

In the NCR, ATS teams led by an Additional SP have already been deployed and the district police have been told to strengthen patrolling.

An official said the ATS units of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi have been provided with inputs regarding suspects who could be used by terror groups to execute their plans. The units will coordinate, the state officials were told.

Raid on outlets selling goods with Games logo

Following the Delhi High Court order that allowed the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) to check traders who are illegally selling various products carrying the Games logo, the legal wing of the committee on Friday raided four apparel outlets at Janpath, Defence Colony and Karol Bagh and seized merchandise. The outlets were selling the merchandise carrying the official emblem and logos of the CWG without permission of the committee.

Denying intentional violation of the Copyright Act, the owner of a Janpath shop said they had printed this logo on various products to create awareness about the Games among the people. “When we found many youths demanding T-shirts with the Games emblem, we went ahead with the printing,” he added.

The OC team plans to make money by selling merchandise like T-shirts, towels, bags and caps and use it to repay its loans, mostly to the government. The OC has already released many advertisements about protection of Games emblem and is now considering the use of electronic means to spread awareness about their illegal use.

The violations are serious and we have been noticing it for some time. We finally decided to crack down and got a court order,” a Games official said.

The committee has also issued notices to 40 violators of intellectual property rights, including website owners, merchandisers, licensing, travel agencies and shopowners. These have been allegedly using the Games emblem and images of official mascot ‘Shera’ without any permission.

Delhi will be ready by Aug 31: CM

Ending all speculation about the the city’s preparedness for the Commonwealth Games, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday said Delhi will be fully ready by August 31. “Nothing will be left to be undertaken... Delhi will be absolutely ready to host the Commonwealth Games in all respect by August 31,” she said.

On Friday, the Chief Minister chaired a meeting and reportedly stepped up the pressure on agencies to pull up their socks. Dikshit had also visited the Barapullah Nallah elevated road project with Urban Development Minister A K Walia, while Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely visited other Games sites. The CM issued instructions to immediately remove debris strewn all over the city and said permissions for digging and road cutting will not be given after July 31.

Even as Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta has been made the nodal officer to monitor work and address daily obstacles, Walia continued his round of inspections of projects being carried out by all civic agencies and the Public Works Department (PWD) and warned agencies to stick by the deadline.

Meanwhile, a day after Organising committee chairperson Suresh Kalmadi directed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to beautify the Capital in time for the Games, the cash-strapped Corporation has written to the Chief Minister asking for Rs 7 crore to fund the work.

“It is very important that the city is presented at its best during the Games and the Corporation wishes to do the best it can. However, the state knows that the MCD is facing a revenue crunch because of many reasons,” said Mayor Prithviraj Sawhney.

The state administration does not give us our due share of revenue in many cases, hence, it must provide for additional work like these,” Sawhney added.

However, once the finances are worked out, MCD plans to immediately implement its extensive beautification plan to “dress up” the Capital. The Corporation is already working on new designs for temporary gates for the seven entry points to the Capital.

It will also put up hoardings related to the games at overbridges and upgrade and repaint all foot overbridges.

The MCD will also install attractive ‘building wraps’ at government buildings near the Games venues as asked by the Organising Committee.

A team of horticulturists will also craft Shera, the Games mascot, out of flowers and plants. Such mosaic culture figures will be installed at 13 sites close to Games venues. The art of mosaic culture was picked up by a team of Delhi civic officials when they visited Japan last September. The installations last between one and three months.

Asked if all this work would be completed on time, Sawhney said: “The MCD is waiting for funds from the government. As soon as we get the money, we will spring into action and complete this work in less than a month.

Commonwealth Games a symbol of change

The Commonwealth Games is less than three months away and the conduct of the event will be a key measure of India's ability to successfully host such events.

A memorable Commonwealth Games will bolster India's hopes of making a strong bid for the 2020 Olympics.

These issues were discussed threadbare in a seminar at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on Friday. The topic of discussion at the seminar, an initiative by the Times of India, was 'Times Future Arenas, From Commonwealth to Olympics'.

Well-known TV anchor Charu Sharma was critical about the manner in which things have been handled since winning the right to hold the Games. "This is a big occasion for us but we have gone around in the worst possible manner. We have been bickering all this while when we should have been working," he said.

Cricketer Aakash Chopra was also sceptical about the preparations. Other speakers including veteran journalist Ayaz Memon, cricketer Deep Das Gupta, former swimming star Hakimmuddin Habibulla and journalist Boria Mazumdar were of the view that the Games should be used as a stepping stone to the Olympics.

"Commonwealth Games would be one more step towards a sporting culture. It will be symbol of change," said Memon.

Gurgaon in preparation mode for CWG shooting event

Authorities in this satellite town of the national capital are gearing up to host the shooting event of the Commonwealth Games with various plans for disaster management and emergencies in the pipeline.

The fire department has been asked to prepare a disaster management plan for the shooting event, officials said Friday.

"The plan should focus on the activities of their department, including the equipments available with them," a senior police officer said.

The competitions of shooting during the Games are scheduled to be held in the range of the Kadarpur Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Gurgaon.

Authorities have assured tight security arrangements in the city during the mega sporting event.

"Tight security arrangements will be made in Gurgaon as well as in the Kadarpur shooting range. Police will keep vigil on the security arrangements in all the shopping malls, markets, hotels, guest houses, metro stations and other important places," Gurgaon Joint Commissioner of Police Alok Mittal said.

An emergency response plan will be prepared with the help of officers of various departments and representatives from the public.

"Each department in the district has been asked to designate a nodal officer on behalf of that department for the Commonwealth Games," Mittal said.

The civil surgeon has been asked to present a health-related management plan with information about number of hospitals in Gurgaon, doctors, number of beds available, ambulances and details of other facilities in hospitals.

There is also a plan of constructing a small four-bedded hospital near the ground in Kadarpur shooting range where four doctors will be deputed.

In addition, two ambulances will remain stationed at the CRPF camp for taking the patients to other hospitals in case of emergency.

Commonwealth Express to chug into Orissa on Aug 7

The Commonwealth Express, an exhibition train, will chug into Orissa on August 7 on its ongoing journey to promote sports, information technology and youth issues.

Indian Railways, a lead partner for the Commonwealth Games, launched the exhibition train in association with the Department of Information Technology on June 24 from Safdurjung railway station, Delhi. The train was flagged off by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee. The Commonwealth Express, East Coast Railways (ECoR), is a fully air-conditioned train, specially designed and painted with the Commonwealth logo along with that of Indian Railways. The exciting sporting exterior graphics on five coaches of the train are dedicated to sports and contain information on Commonwealth Games (CWG), landmarks in the history of Commonwealth games, the Queen's Baton Relay story - its travel plan, concept of first Green Commonwealth Games, CWG Logo and Shera (Mascot of CWG) story.

In the second coach, miniature models of stadiums and their details are presented where the 17 sports are being played in Delhi.

Game schedule at a glance, medal tally and Delhi's preparation at a glance are all available in this coach. Coach number three has live display of sports equipment and important facts about the 17 sports being played at the CWG-2010.

Coach four will be a complete gallery of photographs and names of medal winners at the CWG-2006, Asian Games at Doha, along with various Olympic Games and details of star Indian performers, who have done India proud.

The fifth coach has a display of trophies won by the Railways in the various sports events, besides information on the Indian Railway's pioneering contribution to sports with the list of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awardees, Dronacharya, Dhyanchand, Arjun, Padmashri and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Protsahan award winners.

Apart from this, the additional six coaches have the complete Information Technology story of India comprising short information films dubbed in various languages. One of the coaches has been designed as an auditorium with internet, video conferencing and mobile communication facilities, ECoR sources said.

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