Friday, July 16, 2010

Baton reaches Himalayan state - sikkim culture show for games curtain-raiser

Snow lion and yak dancers today welcomed the Queen’s Baton to the Himalayan state through the Rangpo check-post, accompanied by a full fledged naumauti baja — a team of nine who went all out with their Nepali folk instruments.

The baton for the 19th Commonwealth Games arrived from Siliguri at Rangpo at 12.35pm. It was received at the check-post by Sikkim Olympic Association president P.K. Pradhan in the presence of sports minister N.K. Pradhan, chief secretary T.T. Dorji and a host of government officials and representatives of various sports organisations.

At 1pm, Jerry Basi, a former football player and part of the bronze medal winning national team of the 6th Asian Games at Bangkok in 1970, started the relay. Scores of students had lined up on both sides of the road to welcome the baton at Rangpo, 41km from here.

The relay was for almost 1km. Archer Tarundeep Rai, Arjuna awardee boxer Jas Lal Pradhan and Everesters Yangde Sherpa and Phul Maya Tamang participated in the run for 12 minutes. The baton then proceeded to Singtam, the commercial hub of East Sikkim, in a convoy of vehicles, halting there for another short relay.

At 3.20pm, the baton reached Gangtok and was received at Guru Lakhang monastery, Deorali, by MLA Dorjee Namgyal Bhutia and mayor K.N. Topgay. After a brief welcome ceremony, the baton was taken along NH31A by Everesters Kunzang Bhutia and Yaduram Sharma to MG Marg.

Cultural dances of various communities of Sikkim were presented in front of the state tourism office at MG Marg before the baton was taken to a decorated Paljor Stadium at 5.25pm for the evening programme to be attended by governor B.P. Singh and chief minister Pawan Chamling.

“On July 17, the baton will visit the Nathu-la border, Kupup and Sherathang, all under the control of 17 Mountain Division of the Indian Army. The army will receive the baton at the circuit house and will return it at the same place the same day,” said state Queen’s Baton relay nodal officer and sports secretary H.K. Karki.

He added that a yak relay ride for the baton has been planned at Chhangu Lake after which it will again be transported to Nathu-la in a convoy. The cavalcade will stop at the parking lot, some 500 metres below the India-China border at Nathu-la, to be carried the rest of the way.

“It is up to the army to choose its baton bearers though we are ready to provide sports person from our side if they want,” said Karki.

After a photo session at Nathu- la at 14,000ft, the baton will proceed down in a convoy to Baba Mandir and then to the golf course at Kupup. The course is said to be the world’s highest at 13,025 ft.

On July 18, the last day of the baton’s stay in Sikkim, the state-level QBR committee, sports department, SOA members of various sports associations will assemble at the circuit house at 8am to give it a farewell.

Two hours later, the baton will be handed over to the Darjeeling district administration at Rangpo on the Bengal border by the SOA president around 10am.

The Bengal route of the baton will begin with Chittrey, 14km from Kalimpong town. It will then proceed to Teesta Bazar along NH31A before entering Darjeeling town.

The subdivisional officer of Kalimpong, Amyas Tshering, said traffic on the highway could be affected. He said passengers from Kalimpong on their way to New Jalpaiguri station or Bagdogra airport should start before 9am.

Dikshit takes stock of CWG progress

In a meeting to review the Commonwealth Games progress, chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday directed the Delhi Traffic Police to submit a comprehensive list of pedestrian crossings and bus bays by July 24 so that PWD can paint pedestrian crossings to give the city a facelift. She also directed all agencies to tighten loose ends.

MCD informed those present at the meeting that 21,774 metric tonnes of malba had been removed in the past 12 days.

Dikshit expressed displeasure over the presence of onlyjunior-level officers of Delhi Traffic Police in the weekly review meetings, a statement from the CM's office said. She told the traffic police that their signal poles were in a bad shape and their barricades were improperly arranged giving an unpleasant look to the city.

Dikshit instructed all agencies and stakeholders to concentrate on portraying an attractive image of the city by putting up banners, flags and view cutters as approved by the Organizing Committee of the Games.

The Discoms were instructed to paint their transformers and other visible installations. The railways was instructed to give four important stations New Delhi, Old Delhi, Nizamuddin and Anand Vihar a makeover.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Cabinet on Friday gave clearance for purchase of 31 aambulances for the Games.

Govt asks PSUs for CWG sponsorships

The government has asked its public sector undertakings to offer sponsorships for the Commonwealth Games — which is not finding many takers from among the private sector ones. In a note to the PSU chiefs, the department of public enterprises has said that all the contribution, donation, promotion and sponsorship to the Commonwealth Games 2010 will be treated as corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.

A senior official of a public sector company said that though they have received a note in this regard, but “there is no compulsion to contribute in the Games. However, it is understood that as the department has issued a note to all the PSEs, it would be difficult for them not to follow the dictate.”

70 days to go, pack-up for Commonwealth Games caterers

It has all the markings of becoming an international embarrassment for the country. A year after the organizing committee (OC) floated a request for proposal (RFP) for selecting caterers for the 19 Commonwealth Games venues, it has now cancelled all but one, with just 70-odd days to go for the event.

The only contract that remains is the one for the Commonwealth Games Village, which is with Delaware North-Taj SATS consortium. The decision to cancel the others comes barely two months after the OC had finally selected six firms as caterers in its 11 clusters. The firms had been selected after a long tender process that included the re-issuing of the RFP earlier in March this year. Confirmed Lalit Bhanot, spokesperson for the OC, "The tenders have been scrapped as the cost was coming out to be too high."

Interestingly, the process now adopted is via "nomination". The nomination, say sources, will be submitted by the chairperson of the OC, namely Suresh Kalmadi. The decision to both terminate the contracts as well as to adopt the nomination process was taken at an executive board meeting held on June 27. Sources say the nomination process is usually adopted when expediting a project. "Since the Games are two months away, there's no time to re-float another tender. So nominating a firm and getting approval from the executive board on the nomination was deemed to be the only option left," added a source.

Incidentally, the OC had confirmed the selection of the firms in May this year, after due process. At that time, the firms had submitted not only the plans on infrastructure required to feed athletes and delegates at the venues but also the cost involved. OC had accepted the terms, and intimated selection. Only the letter of award was left to be given as official confirmation of the award of the contract. However, over the past few months, OC had been unwilling to shell out the monies agreed upon with the firms. "Of the Rs 116 crore budget for catering, Rs 100 crore has been given to the Village consortium. The cost of catering at the rest of the venues was coming to around Rs 70 crore which OC refused to pay," added a source.

The catering issue has been dogging the OC for some time now. With more than 30 lakh meals expected to be cooked during the fortnight of the Commonwealth Games, its one of the most important functional areas of the Games. At an estimate, 2,500 meals will be served every hour, say sources. To ensure the international standards required for the process, the OC had selected the firms based on specific criteria. Sources say the plan at present is to get the caterer of the Village to prepare meals for athletes and delegates at other venues as well. However, with only two months left to the event, fear of selecting a qualified firm looms large for the organizing committee. Sources say that negotiations are on with IRCTC to take over catering at all venues. IRCTC was, incidentally, one of the firms selected earlier to cater at major Games venues such as Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.

Sources say the delay would cost the country in the run-up to the Games. Said the official, "The international norm is six months as lead time for catering for any big event like the Commonwealth Games." Some of the firms selected earlier include IRCTC, Narulas, Old Worlde hospitality and Graviss hospitality.

Some hits, MCD aims to make up for misses before August 31

Extensively dug-up stretches, unfinished masonry littered along pavements and construction debris piled across the Capital — at first sight, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s (MCD) progress on its Commonwealth Games-related projects appears unsteady.

The civic body, however, is quick at clearing apprehensions — it claims all projects will be wrapped up before the August 31, the deadline given to all civic agencies by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

During an ‘inspection visit’ on Friday of all Games projects undertaken by the MCD, the Corporation’s top brass claimed while most work will be completed July-end, whatever “last minute finishing” is left will be taken care of well before August 31.

The MCD has been entrusted mainly with streetscaping of roads around all Games venues, upgrade of guesthouses and the area around them in Paharganj and Karol Bagh, creating parking facility around Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and upgrade of streetlights and construction of foot overbridges, railway overbridges and railway underbridges.

At present, much infrastructure work in Karol Bagh and Paharganj remains incomplete. Both the areas have been dug up extensively to shift electric cables underground and for streetscaping work, much to the inconvenience of the residents.

To its pleasure, one project that the MCD claims is near complete is the parking facility near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which will have the capacity to accommodate 700 buses that will ferry the athletes during Games.

The civic body has already finished the work of covering the Sunehri, DPS and Khushak drains and the elevated road along the three, which will serve as the parking space, is also complete and ready for use with the exception of “some finishing touches”.

“We have used German technology for this Rs 320 crore project. The parking bay over Khushak is 1-km long and 65 metres wide and it is is a key project as buses ferrying the athletes will come here directly from the Games Village via Barapullah elevated road,” said Ravidass, MCD Engineer-in-Chief.

“We are trying to wrap up as much work possible within the next 15 days. Whatever little finishing or clean up remains after that will also be completed well within the August 31 deadline,” said Delhi Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney.

Parking facility near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium

Sunehri, DPS and Kushak drains covered. Elevated road along this stretch complete

Streetscaping work around Thyagaraj Stadium

* Streetscaping work at Tamil Sangam Road, at Church Road near RK Khanna Tennis Stadium Beautification of roundabouts at Dayal Chowk in Jhandewalan and at the Ridge Road in Central Delhi

Foot overbridge at Bhishma Pitamah Marg

Queen’s Baton 2010 Delhi visits UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bodh Gaya

On Wednesday, the Queen's Baton 2010 Delhi  visited Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, famous for being the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.  The baton then proceeded to the State capital, Patna.

After visiting the Great Budhha Statue, the baton was taken to Mahabodhi Temple. The Temple Complex was declared as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. Here the baton was taken inside the temple and to the holy Bodhi Tree under which Lord Budhha attained enlightenment.

The baton then reached the Patna, capital of Bihar. Patna, formerly Patliputra, was the capital of ancient Magadha Empire and its history goes back well over two millennia.

In Patna, the relay commenced from the Raj Bhavan and culminated at Shri Krishna Memorial Hall. There were 36 Batonbearers who participated in the relay. Hon'ble Governor of Bihar Mr. Devanand Konwar was the first Batonbearer. Many international athletes took part in the relay. They included C Prasad, international footballer; Ms. Smita Kumari, gold medalist in SAF Games Kabaddi; Mr. Krishna Kumar Sharma, qualifier of World Athletics and Mr. Rajeev Kr. Singh, gold medalist in Kabaddi, Asian Games. Other eminent people present at the relay were Cultural and Sports Secretary Mr. Vivek Singh; HRD Secretary, Anjali Kumar Singh; District Sports Officer Krishan Mohan Pandey and Sports Secy. Hemchand Pandey.

The baton is all set to move to the  country's North-East region via Kolkata and Bagdogra.

MCD continues to blame Delhi Govt for delay in CWG related works

Less than three months before the commencement of the Commonwealth Games, the biggest sporting event to be held in the national capital, the civic agencies continue to pass the buck on each other. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) today retaliated by saying that among various works which fall under its jurisdiction all are "on time", except those works whose completion has been delayed by the works of the Delhi Government agencies. MCD Mayor Prithviraj Sawhney along with MCD Chairman Yogender Chandolia, Leader of the House Subhash Arya and other officials today visited various sites which come under their jurisdiction as well as the CPWD, the PWD and the NDMC. As their convoy, comprising MCD officials and mediapersons, moved from Ambedkar Stadium at Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, none of the works, including footpaths, roads and dividers, seemed to be on the verge of completion.

However, the Corporation claimed that everything was going on time. ''The three major projects under us, namely Signature Tower, parking at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and beautification of round- abouts have been almost completed and remaining work on them will be over by the end of this month,'' Mr Arya told UNI. However, the delay in the works like laying of stones over the footpaths and dividers, construction of underpasses and others remain unnoticed. They were rather swift in counting the faults of the Delhi Government agencies when they visited areas like Pahar Ganj, Karol Bagh, to name a few. Pointing towards a dug up Deshbandhu Gupta road, Mr Chandolia alleged that laying of BSES cables was responsible for its such condition.

The MCD senior official also directed the attention of the reporters towards a small pit in the premises of flats of the CPWD and said it had been lying unattended by the department for long. The all important projects for the Games have already missed several deadlines but the officials of various agencies claimed to be confident of completing all the works by August 15. Last week, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who was not happy with the pace of work on several projects, had set August 31 as the new deadline for completing all the projects linked to the Games.

Times City Guide released

On the event of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, The Times of India has released the Times City Guide on Delhi in association with Delhi Tourism. The book, developed as a ready reckoner for all the delegates and visitors in general due to arrive during the games, will serve as a window to the culture and lifestyle of Delhi and its populace. Times City Guide, Delhi, 2010 will highlight everything that the city is proud to own and will also double up as a friendly "what's whereand-how" kind of a city dweller's PANCHANG. Besides, this book will also be the only official City Guide of Delhi Tourism which will project Delhi to its best.

The guide is in the form of two books:
The Times
City Guide - Delhi
    The guide is indeed an attempt to make acquaintance with a living culture and people of Delhi. It is intended to be city panchaang divided 'thematically' into 5 distinct sections, namely,
1. An Introduction to the city that will give the users a feel for the place and its people; 2. The 'Must-See' section will an in-depth exploration of the city interspersed with pictures and maps; 3. The 'Must-Do' section will cover the experiential flavours of Delhi; 4. The 'Must-Have' section will have information on shopping and places of local interest; and 5. The 'Must-Know' segment will provide itineraries to help plan a good trip - how to get there complete with an exhaustive listing of details and information one may need to refer
Pocket Compendium

There will be an additional 'Pocket Compendium' that will serve as a ready reckoner largely on Commonwealth Games, such as,

1. Moving around - highlighting various services (Metros, taxi, bus, air);
2. Tourism offices
3. Embassies and consulates
4. Money matters - ATM's and money exchange
5. Health - Major hospitals, ambulances, emergency numbers, 24 hour chemists
6. Security - Police helplines, women cell
7. Accommodation - Bed and breakfast options, NCR options
8. Language - Basic Hindi phrases
9. Commonwealth schedules
10.Map for Delhi Metro

BCCI re-schedules Aus tour, new dates also clash with CWG

The Indian Cricket Board has revised the schedule of the upcoming home tour of Australia but the re-jigged dates continue to clash with October's Commonwealth Games here. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had sought Sports Ministry's intervention in pursuing the BCCI to change the dates of the tour to avoid a clash with the Games. However, the Board had said that they have not been approached by anyone for any change.

According to the revised itinerary, the two Test matches against Australia have been advanced by one day each.

The first Test will now be held from October 1 in Mohali and second from October 9 in Bangalore.

The dates of the One-day series have also been changed.

The first ODI will be played on October 17 in Kochi and second on October 20 in Vizag.

The third ODI will be played on October 24 in Goa.

The BCCI also released the schedule of the New Zealand home tour, which will begin with the first Test from November 4 in Ahmedabad.

The second Test will be played from November 12-16 in Kanpur while the third and final Test is scheduled for Nagpur from November 20-24.

A five-match ODI series will be played after the three-match Test series.

ODI Schedule:
1st ODI on November 28 in Guwahati.
2nd ODI on December 1 in Mohali.
3rd ODI on December 4 in Hydereabad.
4th ODI on December 7 in Bangalore
5th ODI on December 10 in Chennai.

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