Saturday, July 17, 2010

Security drills to start in August

Talking about security during the Commonwealth Games in the Capital, the police said that an LeT attack on a Games venue would be part of a larger plan, codenamed Karachi Project by ISI, to bleed India and render it a destination as risky as Pakistan for tourists.

Sources said that during his inspection visit on Saturday, Union home secretary GK Pillai interacted with the OC and Delhi Police officials who gave him a detailed presentation. Pillai also took stock of the transportation logistics, specially the timing and sequence of the athletes’ buses.

Ministry officials said that as work is not yet complete inside the JLN Stadium, the home secretary will revisit the stadium after two weeks to take stock of security and transportation requirements.

The officials are planning mock drills in August and September to ensure that everything is in place when the Games begin on October 3.

Delhi Police wants 25,000 Games passes

Delhi Police has demanded an astounding 25,000 passes to provide security at Commonwealth Games' venues, flummoxing the Organizing Committee (OC).

According to sources in the sports ministry, the cops have refused to scale down their demand for passes. The OC believes they are asking for too many considering the Capital's combined stadium capacity is 1,60,000 or so, with Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium accounting for 60,000.

At last week's GoM meeting, OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi objected to the police demand saying it would limit entry for the common man. Sports minister MS Gill supported him saying there should be a fine balance between security and public attendance. Both insisted the demand was unacceptable. Where will the public go? they asked. Delhi Police refused to answer.

With the cops refusing to budge, OC wrote to home secretary GK Pillai to assess security needs and say if the police demands were genuine.

On Saturday, Pillai reviewed security arrangements for JLN Stadium's VIP enclosure, frisking points and entry and exits.

By all accounts, the Centre has a tough task balancing the police view with that of the Games' organizers.
The cops have been frequently accused of “extorting” passes from organizers of sports and cultural events in the city. However, in this case, they can cite the high risk of terrorist attacks at Games venues.

Intercepts of terrorist chatter suggest there may be a plot to target the Games with LeT sleeper cells under pressure to to stage a "spectacular".

Head to nearest Metro station for Games info

Information about Commonwealth Games will be available at all metro stations soon. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is bringing out a Commonwealth Games Information booklet which will be available at all Metro stations. According to DMRC officials, the booklet will provide all the necessary information to the commuters during the Games.

“The comprehensive booklet will not only carry information about the various corridors and stations, but will also have details about the various tourist attractions of the city along with their metro connectivity. The Games booklet will have detailed information on the city’s hotels, markets, railway stations, other emergency numbers,” said Anuj Dayal, DMRC spokesperson.

The DMRC has also decided to launch a special commuter-friendly service so that foreign tourists who will visit Delhi during the Games do not gather a negative note about the capital city, he added.

“We are going to beef up strength of our Metro Citizens’ Forum from 400 to 1,000 heads before the games. Besides, we have tied up with Bharat Scouts and Guides who are going to provide volunteers to Delhi Metro for the Games. These volunteers will be deputed at Metro stations and trains to cater to the increased traffic volume and also ensure that no one is causing nuisance for the commuters,” said Dayal.

“Law violators and trouble creators will be dealt in strictly. If they do not pay any heed to volunteers’ requests, we will immediately hand them over to the police,” said a senior DMRC officer.

Besides this arrangement, the Central Industrial Security Force has also initiated a special ‘random checks’ drive to ensure security of the Metro passengers. Special squads have been formed to conduct such drives in metros.

“Our unit commanders lead such random checks in any Metro station or train. They not only check passengers, also keep an eye on the CISF personnel who are deployed in Metro network,” said Rohit Katiyar, spokesperson of CISF.

As test event nears, aquatics venue officials go into panic mode

P Mukherjee complex undergoing hurried changes; ‘not fit’ to host July 27 event

While different agencies are working overtime to meet the new deadline set by the Group of Ministers (GoM) to complete various venues of the Commonwealth Games, officials of the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) have expressed apprehensions over the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Aquatics Complex’s readiness to host the three-day test event, beginning July 27.

With nearly 300 swimmers confirming participation in 38 test events, the SFI officials are not sure if they can conduct the event as scheduled.

“The stadium is not fit to conduct an event of even this size,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

The official said tiles are broken at several places near the poolside and balcony and are being replaced in a hurry. Even starting blocks and touchpads have not yet been installed, leave alone being tested.

“The less said about the road inside the complex the better. Even the restrooms and changing rooms are not ready,” added the official.

The biggest shock for the SFI officials, however, came with the arrival of the staff from Omega, the time-keepers for the Games. As they began work on the starting blocks to fix the touchpads, they found the tiles were fixed on a sand base instead of a concrete one. “When the construction officials were called in, they agreed to redo the base,” said the official.

According to another official, Omega have said they would need at least 10 days to install and test their equipment.

Considering the pace of work, the SFI is now unsure of taking possession of the stadium on July 19, as was assured by the authorities.

Home Secretary assesses security at Games venues

Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai on Saturday reviewed security arrangements at all Commonwealth Games venues. Pillai visited the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the venue of both opening and closing ceremonies, for an on-the-spot assessment of the security arrangements. Sources said Pillai interacted with officials of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee and the Delhi Police, who also gave him a detailed presentation.

Games a platform for business in the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth Games in Delhi is set to make a transition into a preferred platform for doing business with India.

The Organising Committee of the games (CWG-OC) hopes to foster business ties with other Commonwealth nations and is in talks with South Africa, Scotland, Australia and the UK to sign agreements in the areas of IT, pharmaceuticals and tourism.

It expects to sign six to eight memoranda of understanding (MoU) with these countries in education, energy, information technology (IT), medical tourism, food processing and environment. The business promotion is being done by the OC that has partnered with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) to launch the Business Club of India (BCI).

“The BCI is a legacy of the games and will continue even after the games are over. It is a permanent entity and will not die after the games. We expect trade volumes to increase between India and the other Commonwealth countries,” said T S Darbari, Joint Director General, CWG OC.

Trade between the Commonwealth countries stands at $3 trillion, while bilateral trade between India and the Commonwealth countries is almost $90 billion. India is the largest member of the Commonwealth and the fourth largest contributor to the Commonwealth budgets.The consortium aims at marketing the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi and promoting business networking. According to a study by PWC, the CWG 2010 is projected to have an overall economic impact on India amounting to about $ 5 billion and will generate 2.47 million jobs in a four-year span from 2008-12. Thus, the impact is expected to be larger than Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006.

Darbari said Malaysia has evinced interest in collaborating with India on the IT-ITeS front while Singapore is interested in BFSI and Australia in coal, mining and winery.

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