Wednesday, July 21, 2010

PM concerned about CWG delays, seeks status report

Taking a serious view of construction delays at the Commonwealth Games venues, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar to call a meeting of the concerned parties and submit a status report by next week.

The meeting, scheduled for Friday, will be attended by, among others, sports, expenditure and urban development secretaries, the chief secretary of Delhi, the chiefs of CPWD, SAI, NDMC, MCD, DDA and the Archeological Survey of India besides Organising Committee CEO Jarnail Singh.

According to sources, the Prime Minister, who is periodically briefed by the Group of Ministers for the Games, was concerned about the slow pace of work at certain projects and the damage the rains have caused at two venues — Yamuna Sports Complex and the Siri Fort Sports Complex.

At the Yamuna Sports Complex, constructed by Delhi Development Authority, water seeped through the maple wood flooring.

At the S.P. Mukherjee Auqatic Complex, which was inaugurated last Sunday by sports minister MS Gill, had a few technical deficiencies, including the starting blocks having to be hurriedly redone so that time keepers Omega could install the equipment.

The PM is also reportedly worried about the ongoing civic work in the city and whether the authorities concerned have taken precautionary measures to prevent flooding of approach roads to the stadiums.

Delhi 2010 Games has an ambitious revenue target

The Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi is expected to be the biggest international sporting event to be hosted by India since the 1982 Delhi Asian Games. The success of the Commonwealth Games would be the first step towards India’s bid for bigger events.

The budget of the Games is revenue neutral and the organizing committee will refund the loan taken from government through revenue streams like international and domestic broadcasting, sponsorship, ticketing, merchandising, licencing and other mediums (donations/lotteries, etc.)

Compared with previous two Commonwealth Games in Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006, Delhi 2010 Games has a much ambitious revenue target.

The Sponsorship target of Delhi 2010 is almost three times of Melbourne 2006, which was so far the most successful Games in terms of revenue generation.

Delhi 2010 has already contracted sponsorship deals worth `400 crore. There is a mix of state-run companies such as NTPC, Air India, Central Bank of India and PowerGrid Corporation of India, private multinationals such as Coca-Cola, Reebok and Swiss Timing/Tissot, as well as Indian companies such as Hero Honda and Tata Motors.

Merchandising and licensing are also on the right track with the committee appointing Premiere Brands as the master licensee.

The promise of revenue-neutral Games is fast becoming a reality. The Games is on.

Queen's Baton arrives in Shillong

The Queen's Baton reached Meghalaya this evening as part of its country wide relay in the run up to the Delhi Commonwealth Games, in October this year. The baton was handed over to Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Bindo M Lanong at Byrnihat in Ri Bhoi District at around 10:30 am after travelling
from Kaziranga in Assam as part of its onward journey to Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday.

The baton after arriving at Byrnihat, travelled through the Shillong Guwahati road in a rally participated by Lanong, who also holds the Sports portfolio, along with officials of the sports department and sports personalities.

It passed through Nongpoh, Umiam and localities like Mawlai, Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex, Ward's Lake in the city before arriving at U Soso Tham Auditorium.

People thronged the premises of U Soso Tham Auditorium to have a glimpse of the decorated wand before it was taken inside the hall.

International marathoner Biningstar Lyngkhoi of Meghalaya handed over the baton to Meghalaya Chief Minister, Mukul Sangma at cultural programme to mark this historic event.

Speaking on the occasion, Sangma said Meghalaya was lacking behind in sports and the government would make every effort to provide avenues for the youth to utilise their immense potential.

The baton left Buckingham Palace on October 29, 2009 for its India leg journey. It would finally reach New Delhi in before the commencement of the Commonwealth Games on October 3.

It’s time for Tour de Delhi

The Tour de Delhi cyclothon, to be held on August 29, would be the first official cycling test event for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Starting at Vijay Chowk, the 13.7 km race will go upto Deen Dayal Upadhayay Marg and end at Vijay Chowk. Many international and national teams will participate.
Organised by ID Sports and Sports 18, it will be the third of its kind in India. The first two were held in Bengaluru (2009) and Mumbai earlier this year. The event intends to promote cycling and its various benefits. The money collected will be donated to charity.

City dug up, so no Games lanes trial

With a little over two months to go for Commonwealth Games, trial runs to sensitize Delhi drivers to dedicated Games lanes are yet to start. Reason — Delhi roads are all dug up and streetscaping work is delayed. And as a result, road markings for the dedicated lanes can’t be done.

In the absence of proper trials, it is being feared that traffic management could pose a major challenge during Games. Sources said past experience has shown that Delhi drivers take some time to switch to new road systems, that too with a lot of resistance. ‘‘If people are not exposed to the Games lane concept well in time, it could result in a lot of violations during the event. The volume of traffic is already so heavy that this kind of confusion is bound to lead to jams,’’ said sources.

The traffic police, who will execute the trials, contend that road markings have not been done without which trials are not possible. On their part, the cops have reportedly drawn up detailed maps of roads leading to the venues. The training venues, Games village, airport and the routes to be taken by different categories of vehicles are being charted out in advance. ‘‘We are ready to carry out trials for the Games lanes as soon as they are marked on the roads,’’ said a senior traffic cop.

A special committee constituted under R Narayanswamy to look into the matter says, the markings have been delayed as streetscaping work is not over and malba is still lying dumped on the roads. ‘‘A review meeting has been called on July 26, with civic agencies including MCD, NDMC, PWD and NHAI, to take stock of the situation. We need to hurry up matters and finish all the road markings at the earliest possible,’’ he said.

B&B on mobile, net but it may be too late

With barely 73 days left for the Games, the Delhi Government is planning to put in place a low-cost mobile-cum-web based solution to showcase the 408 premises offering Bed & Breakfast scheme to attract tourists coming to the capital. However, the website, which is under preparation and will also have a link to the Delhi Tourism and Organizing Committee's Commonwealth Games websites, could take up to two months to become fully functional leaving very little time for foreign tourists to make a choice.

The Delhi Government's Tourism Department has approached the National Research and Development Corporation to deliver a web-based solution for promoting the B&B establishments. So far there are 408 establishments registered with Delhi Tourism under the scheme. In terms of rooms, it means about 1277 rooms with as many as 991 located in south Delhi followed by 132 rooms in west Delhi, 79 in central Delhi and 40 in north Delhi.

Uniphore, a company under the National Research and Development Corporation, is working to put in place a low cost mobile-cum-web based solution for showcasing B&B before the world.

Umesh Sachdev, CEO, Uniphore, said that it has been seen that most big hotels give tourists the option to search, choose and book accommodation of their choice from their home countries. "This facility has benefited the hotel industry tremendously but many B&B establishments in Delhi lack the facilities and infrastructure for it. As stakeholders have shown interest, we are going to provide a low cost mobile-cum-web solution,'' Sachdev said.

Uniphore is working on a solution wherein the B&B owners will be asked to give regular updates on telephone about room status and prices. These details will be uploaded on the website for B&B. Photographs for various accommodations will be uploaded to allow tourists to see the B&B facilities and make a choice. Initially payments cannot be made through this facility and tourists will have to coordinate with the B&B establishments for making payments.

When asked about the relevance of the facility considering the Games are barely 73 days away and tourists like to book at least one to two months in advance, Umesh Sachdev refused to comment and simply said the web model aims at benefiting the scheme on the whole.

A reality check of the booking status at some of the B&B establishments reveals that the rush expected before the Games is missing as of now, though the establishments are waiting in anticipation.

Sheetal Bhalla's B&B establishment offers four rooms under the banner of Thikana from her Gulmohar Park residence. Bhalla says that the scheme has helped their business and they have Commonwealth Games-related booking of a marketing company from July to November. During the Games, Bhalla has at least three of the four rooms booked for most part of October. They, however, say that the bookings can only be partly linked to trips related to the Games.

Bhalla points out that queries related to bookings during the Games have definitely gone up and many B&B establishments have hiked their room rates for that period to test the waters. "It seems even those wanting to book for the Games are waiting to see how the preparations related to the Games are turning out. The scepticism surrounding the Games is probably keeping tourists in a wait and watch mode,'' he added.

Aradhna Lanba who offers five rooms from her residence in Safdarjung Enclave says that the pace of business in the run up to the Games is slow compared to the rush the owners of B&B establishments had expected. When Lanba decided to take bookings at regular rates for the Games period, she was able to attract bookings for three of the five rooms.

Then there are some like Deepak Diwan who has a one-room set on offer at his Lajpat Nagar residence. He claims that he has not received any response to the facility over the past four to five months.

Commonwealth Games tickets can be used on Delhi Metro

Commonwealth Games tickets can also be used as tickets for using the Delhi Metro system on specific dates and venues. So, visitors won't have to buy separate metro tickets.

The games tickets will be provided with special foils which will facilitate their travel by the Metro system, said a DMRC statement. The Commonwealth Games tickets, which will be date, venue and event specific, will have two detachable foils for up and down journey by the Metro. These foils will have the same unique serial numbers, which will be mentioned on the games ticket and will be valid for that venue and date only.

The manual gates at the stations will be used for the entry and exit of the commuters holding these games tickets. Guards and volunteers from DMRC will verify the foils by perforating them and will collect them from the commuters at the exit station.

The Delhi Metro is spread over 125 km network and carries about 1.1 million commuters.

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