Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kenya's rugby team coach eyes top three spot at Commonwealth games

Kenya rugby Sevens coach Benjamin Ayimba said on Thursday only a top three finish will satisfy him when the country plays in the Commonwealth games set for in Delhi, India in October.

Kenya is due to start training on Monday for the Club games and Ayimba is keen to transform his success at the International Rugby Board (IRB) seven series to some medals in India.

Ayimba told journalists in Nairobi that he will only add on two players to his current pool of 26 that has done duty for the last two seasons, to beef up the Commonwealth games team. The Commonwealth games start from October 4 to 14.

But before that, Ayimba intends to take the team for the Middlesex Sevens tournament slated for August 21-22 at Twickenham Stadium, London.

At the Club games, Kenya have been handed a tricky pool in the preliminary as they come up against IRB Sevens World Series champions Samoa, Cranes of Uganda and exciting Puk Puks of Papua New Guinea in Pool C.

"We won't be true to their goals if they were to project anything less than the medal bracket. We are not only aiming at the medal bracket but that crucial gold medal. It will be sad to fall outside the medal bracket since that will be like downgrading ourselves," said Ayimba.

Kenya won bowl at the 2006 Melbourne Games in Australia, stunning Tonga 26-12 in the final.

Ayimba noted that the bulk of the players for the Middlesex tournament will be drawn from the Academy and their performance will gauged ahead of the Club Games.

"Players for Middlesex will be those who were not regulars in the IRB Series since we want to expose them and find new talent," said Ayimba. "But 80 per cent of regulars Series campaigners will make the Commonwealth Games team."

Defending Commonwealth Games champions New Zealand are top seeds and in Pool A, where they will meet Scotland, Canada and Guyana. South Africa, bronze medallist eight years ago has been paired against Rugby World Cup Sevens champions Wales, Tonga and India.

New Zealand has won all three Rugby Sevens gold medals from 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Manchester (2002) and Melbourne (2006).

45 new CNG stations ready to operate, awaiting approvals: IGL

As many as 45 new Indraprastha Gas CNG stations are awaiting the go-ahead from various authorities, including the Municipal Corporation, Delhi Police and explosives department, to commence operations in the city. The company had planned to open 61 new CNG filling stations, keeping in mind the
forthcoming Commonwealth Games. Out of these, 16 have been made operational and the rest are awaiting various approvals.

"45 newly built CNG filling stations are ready, but they can't be made operational as we are yet to get licenses and approvals from various authorities," Indraprastha Gas Managing Director Rajesh Vedvyas told PTI.

Vedvyas said that preparations for the Commonwealth Games are ahead of schedule and barring 45 stations which are waiting for licenses, 196 of its CNG stations are operational.

Too little time, too much work

With less than three months to the Commonwealth Games and rain pouring down almost every third day, construction agencies in Delhi are worried. While the Public Works Department along with the MCD and the NDMC has managed to complete several infrastructure projects, a large quantum of work is still

Senior officials said they have sought 700 workers from three departments, flood and irrigation, slums and development, to speed up the work.

The PWD’s biggest worry is the ongoing streetscaping work all over the city. Sources said at most places the streetscaping work wasn’t even half finished. The quality of work being carried out at many places has also come under the scanner.

“The streetscaping work was found to be unattended at many places due to large quantum and pressure of work,” CM Sheila Dikshit said.

Senior Delhi government officials said there were several complaints that the work on many places had been done shabbily.

“During an inspection in south Delhi, Rajkumar Chauhan (PWD minister) pulled out a tile, placed a day ago, with his bare hands,” a Delhi government official said.

Officials said the streetlighting work was also suffering. The PWD department is getting new streetlights along its 450-odd-km network. Irked by the slow pace of work, the PWD minister had also shot off a show cause notices to the companies installing the lights. The case was also referred to the vigilance department.

While Dikshit hoped that the Barapula elevated road would be would be complete by August, engineers said it would be difficult. The PWD has yet to complete the work on the railway line. Engineers said the railway track is the main line that connects Delhi with south and west India and witness huge volume of traffic.

“We can only work here at night during fixed hours,” a senior engineer said.

PWD engineers said while most projects would be completed by August-end, September would be kept to develop greenery and repair pot holes.

CWG team cuts corners on tenders

The organizing committee of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) has floated 19 tenders for which the bidding deadline varies from as few as two days to a maximum of 21 days.

This is against the normal practice of giving at least 30 days for bidding.

The haste displayed by the organizing committee, with only 73 days to go for the Games to get off the blocks on 3 October, has provoked critics to argue that it reflected poor management and would hamper adequate oversight of the bidding process.

The tenders over the last month invite bids for setting up operations of various retail stores in the Games Village, supply of recreational games equipment on rent, supply of souvenirs, and agencies for operating food and beverage stalls at all CWG venues.

“Normally, they are supposed to give 15-30 days for any bidding as one needs to give time for assessing the process and calculating the price for a competitive bid,” said E.A.S. Sharma, former secretary, expenditure, in the government of India. “When you squeeze it, people will quote unrealistic costs and once they get it, they will take their own sweet time to do the work as the government is in desperation. There will be cost overrun and time overrun,” Sharma said over phone from Hyderabad.

An official in the organizing committee alleged that due process had not been followed in the tenders, which have been published in some newspapers and posted on the CWG website. The official, who requested anonymity, added: “Most of these works have already been granted informally. The invitation of tenders is just a formality for public consumption.”

Jarnail Singh, chief executive officer of the CWG organizing committee, denied these charges on Thursday. “It’s not true. Whoever is coming up with the lowest bid, will get it. You cannot manipulate it,” he said.

Singh, who admitted that a minimum time of 21 days would be required, sought some more time to respond to Mint’s query on why the tendering process had such short deadlines.

Within an hour Singh reverted, saying that now he was seized of the problem and he was advising an extension of the deadlines. “Three days are just very short. I have asked them to increase it,” he said.

Singh said the tender inviting bids for caterers for the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium—the main venue—is for serving packed food to spectators, and for around 40,000 volunteers across venues.

According to Singh, the committee has decided to float a fresh request for proposal (RFP) for selecting caterers for the 19 venues; this decision taken on Thursday follows after the committee cancelled the selection, effected in May, of the six firms as caterers in its 11 venue clusters.

This would be the second time that the organizing committee is cancelling an RFP, as reported by Mint on 18 February.

The 17 sports to feature in the XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi will be held at six venue clusters and five stand-alone venues in the Capital.

According to a person who is familiar with the process, but did not want to be identified, there have been differences of opinion in the organizing committee over handing out contracts to caterers. While a section argued that different caterers should be engaged, others point out that too many caterers would make coordination and the process of ensuring food security a tougher job at the last minute.

Even for supply and installation of fitness equipment, where there could be tough competition among bidders, the organizing committee released the tender invitation on 8 July and the deadline was on Thursday.

Amir Khan's younger brother Haroon to fight for Pakistan in Commonwealth Games

Haroon Khan the younger brother of World Boxing Association light-welterweight champion and British Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan, has been named in Pakistan’s team for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October.

Khan, 19, who will fight at 52kg for Pakistan, represents Bury ABC, has fought for England on a number of occasions, but has claimed he was left out in the cold by the selectors.

Amir Khan had faced a similar scenario in 2004, when boxing officials said he was too young, at 17, to go to the Olympic Games in Athens. He had won the world junior lightweight title in South Korea early in 2004, and the family threatened to offer his services to the Pakistan Olympic squad.

The younger Khan, a flyweight, lost in the national championships before the quarter-final stage this year. He won the 2009 Junior ABA title, and has fought 76 amateur bouts, with 61 wins and 15 defeats.

Pakistan gave Haroon an automatic selection at 52kg, a division below his fighting weight in the ABAs.

Haroon is convinced that he will bring back a medal to put alongside his brother’s silver, from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, but says he would still jump at the chance of representing England if he got the call.

“To have the opportunity to go to a Commonwealth or a major championship, anyone would take it,” he said.

“I have got a letter from the England camp inviting me there and if they gave me the chance I would jump at it.”

His decision to fight for Pakistan has received the backing of Amir, who said: “Haroon wants to fight in the Games, and if that is the only way, he has to take it. He won’t get that chance again.”

Contractors abandon Commonwealth Games flats in VK

More last-minute hitches.

The two agencies working on the DDA flats at D6, Vasant Kunj walked out of the project earlier this month expressing their inability to meet the August deadline. The flats were to house 1,500 Indian and 650 foreign technical officials during the Delhi Commonwealth Games. The chief engineer of the site says only 604 of the 5,000-odd flats will be "definitely ready'' by August-end while some more may be complete but he cannot give a figure to it. This despite the fact that in the June 29 GoM meeting, vice-chairman of DDA had said there was likely to be a shortfall of only 130 flats which are at a "very rudimentary stage''. Chief engineer S R Solanki says DDA is looking at options to get the work done through work orders as there was no time to issue full-fledged tenders.

Solanki said: "M/s Brahmaputra and M/s A K Mehta were working on eight towers each. Earlier this month both wrote to us saying they cannot complete the work on time. So we are looking at other ways to get it done. Going by the present situation, 476 flats will be ready by the third week of August and another 128 will be ready by end-August. Some more may be complete but it is difficult to commit right now.''

Interestingly, sources say when the work was awarded to the two agencies the original plan was to incorporate 1% penalty for delays. However, the agencies managed to waive it on the ground that DDA's lethargic way of functioning had already caused them to lose three months. DDA vice-chairman had in the same meeting also informed the GoM that the authority was planning to get additional labour from non-CWG sites shifted to Vasant Kunj to speed up the pace of work which was to be monitored on a daily basis. The agencies walking out have put a spanner to all those plans. The GoM had talked about options of blacklisting defaulting contractors but DDA sources say that now the priority is to get work back on track rather than penalizing errant agencies.

If the flats are not completed in time, the organising committee (OC) which has been insisting that all technical officials stay at one place to facilitate their movement and logistics may end up red-faced. Moreover, Delhi Police has also made it clear that it would be good for security reasons if all foreign technical officials stayed at one place. The GOM had decided that the LG would hold a meeting with the commissioner of police to determine the level of security at the Vasant Kunj complex. All such plans may now need to be drawn up from scratch.

BJP seeks better security in Delhi

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation will meet Friday Delhi Police Commissioner Y.S. Dadwal to press for improved law and order in the city ahead of the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games.

Led by Delhi BJP chief Vijendra Gupta, the delegation will convey its concerns on the security situation in the capital, a party leader said.

“The situation is not up to the mark and more needs to be done to make people feel safe in the city,” he added.

Around 100,000 visitors are expected to visit the city during the Games.

Beef will not be served during CWG: Kalmadi

The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Thursday said that beef will not be served during the mega sporting event to be held in the capital Oct 3-14.

“We made this decision (not to serve beef) some weeks ago and have informed our catering contractors accordingly,” said Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Games organising committee.

“There seems to be a perception that cow’s meat will be served during the Games. I hope this clarification will clear all doubts,” he said.

Some organisations had raised concerns that beef would be served during the Games.

Railways on alert during Commonwealth Games

Indian Railways will enhance the security of foreign guests and tourists during the Commonwealth Games, Jaya Singh Chauhan, Inspector General of Railway Protection Force (RPF), said. "The Railway administration is keeping a close watch on the situation and has enhanced security," Chauhan

She was in town to take a stock of the security situation.

The IG told media persons that trains leaving Delhi like Palace on Wheels, Shatabdi and Rajdhani will be put under special security cover. Some of the eighty women Inspectors, who were selected recently, will be posted in these trains.

Special security will be extended up to Aligarh and Allahabad and the state police administration will also cooperate in this scheme, she added.

Chauhan said that continuous meetings are being held with ADJ (Law & Order) Brijlal and ADJ (Railway) AK Jain regarding the matter.

On expected attacks of Maoists, she said that the department has not received any threat in NCR but is taking extra precautions.

Area like Mirzapur where Naxalites are active, will be put under RPSF control.

Chauhan accepted that crimes like snatching are on the rise on the eastern outer side of Aligarh.

She said the RPF will increase its inspections on the trains so that the passengers can feel safe. Checking will be enhanced to stop snatching, theft etc.

She pointed out that usually criminals escape to civil areas after committing crime on trains, so cooperation with civil police force is a must.  She disclosed that several such gangs have been caught in Basti of UP and Kishanganj in Bihar.

Assistant Security Commissioner of RPPC Somashekar, Incharge Inspectors SK Singh and RK Kaushik were also present during her inspection.

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