Sunday, July 25, 2010

Games effect: Faridabad tightens security measures

In view of the upcoming Commonwealth Games, Delhi’s neighbouring towns too have started strengthening their security measures. The Faridabad administration has tightened its noose around cyber-café, PCO and taxi owners who do not keep records of their customers. “The police commissioner of
Faridabad informed me that  most of the cyber-café and PCO owners  in Faridabad were not keeping records of  their customers,” Deputy Commissioner, Faridabad,  Praveen Kumar told Hindustan Times.

“I took the matter seriously and ordered that owners of cyber-cafes and PCOs have to keep records of the customers with every possible details such as name, address, contact numbers, signatures etc,” he added.

Kumar said under Section 144, keeping such information has been made mandatory for owners of cyber-cafes and PCOs in the entire district.

“Action will be initiated if the order is not complied with immediate effect.  The order has come into force since July 21,” he added.

In another order, the administration has made it mandatory for house owners to get the antecedents of their tenants verified.

Police are also identifying  the localities close to the venue for shooting events during the Games. “I have directed the police  to identify the localities close to the venue for  proper sanitisation,” Anil Kumar Rao, Joint Commissioner of Police, Faridabad said.

25 Metro stations to have information kiosks

Are you new to Delhi and don't know how to get around without seeking help from strangers? Your virtual guide may soon be a touch away, thanks to the Delhi Metro. All necessary information about Delhi, including its culture, history, places of tourist interest, movies and details related to the
Commonwealth Games are going to be available in select underground metro stations within a couple of months.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) will install interactive digital information pods (DIPs) in 25 underground metro stations ahead of the Commonwealth Games in October.

The stations where touch screen information kiosks will be installed include Rajiv Chowk, Kashmere Gate, Central Secretariat, Barakhamba Road, INA, AIIMS, JLN Stadium, Vidhan Sabha, Viswavidyalaya, Chandni Chowk, Model Town, Khan Market, Race Course, Jor Bagh, New Delhi, GTB Road, Civil Lines, Chawri Bazar, Malviya Nagar, Hauz Khas, Saket, Udyog Bhawan among others.

“This initiative has been taken keeping in mind the convenience of international tourists who will visit Delhi during the forthcoming Games. However, this value-added service will continue even after the Games,” said Anuj Dayal, DMRC spokesperson.

Games a stumbling block in Metro’s Phase-III project

The Commonwealth Games is most likely to come as a stumbling block for the approval of Delhi Metro’s Phase-III project. As the Transport Department and the Delhi government have their hands full with projects for the Games, sanctions for Delhi Metro’s Phase-III will take a while, maybe only after the Games are over.

The Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) was commissioned by the Delhi Transport Department to conduct a study on the expected increase in transport demand and development of public transport network.

It suggested an additional 149 km of Metro, 40 km of Light Metro to be constructed in the Capital by 2021. Meanwhile, the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) is working out the routes to be proposed for Phase-III.

“The suggestions made in RITES and DIMTS studies are now being incorporated in the final proposal that we will send to the Delhi government for approval. The Delhi Metro had sent us a proposal, which is being worked upon,” said R K Verma, Secretary-cum-Transport Commissioner.

According to sources in the Transport department, the proposal should be ready in another two weeks, following which it will be sent to the Delhi Cabinet for approval.

RITES and DIMTS are working on transport-related studies in the Capital, and the development of the Metro network is being looked into vis-a-vis the possibility of supplementing it with the BRT corridor and Light Metro rail.

Officials in the Transport department maintained that constructing a Metro corridor is far more expensive than building a BRT corridor and hence wherever BRT can be supplemented the possibility will be explored.

“Around 60 per cent of the Phase-III lines proposed by DMRC are underground, which is far more expensive as compared to the elevated line. Every kilometre of the underground line costs close to Rs 300 crore while the elevated line costs Rs 180 crore per km,” said a senior official.

The Delhi government has been mulling over finances for the Phase-III project since April this year and is yet to take a decision. Reportedly, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit recently wrote to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), seeking funds for the project.

Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely told Newsline: “We are tied up with several Commonwealth Games projects and it is most likely that the sanctions for Delhi Metro’s Phase-III project might be looked into only once the Games are over. Finances for the project are a major issue that need to be worked out.”

The Delhi Metro had proposed six lines spanning 85 km, but the Delhi government, following independent surveys, had brought it down to 69.57 km.

According to the Masterplan the tentative deadline for completion of Metro Phase-III is 2015.

INA station will be one of the busiest

AS THE Central Secretariat-Qutab Minar-HUDA City Centre Metro corridor is gearing up for a public opening by mid-August, INA is expected to be one of the busiest stations in the corridor as it is a doorway to the INA, Sarojini Nagar markets and Dilli Haat.

“The work at this underground station is almost complete. The trial run for the entire 12.53-km underground Central Secretariat-Qutab Minar stretch is on in full swing and the entire stretch is expected to be opened for the public in August,” said Anuj Dayal, DMRC spokesperson.

The INA Metro station will have three entry and exit structures with separate gates catering to Aurobindo Marg, Dilli Haat and the INA market. The DMRC has also constructed subways for commuters at these entry and exits points below the Aurobindo Marg.

Dayal said that a major engineering feat was achieved between the INA and Jor Bagh Metro stations with the construction of two tunnels below the Indian Railways track and the Safdarjung flyover without hampering railway and vehicular traffic even for a day.

Mobile jammers likely at Games venues

Parliament-level security is likely to be provided for Commonwealth Games venues in the face of terror threats. The Centre is now looking at installing mobile phone jammers at Games venues to ensure high-level security. The move comes following an advisory by Punjab police that Babbar Khalsa militants may try and target the Games.

Sources said the step was being considered in view of threats to the fortnight-long sporting extravaganza from terrorist groups which may try to use mobile phones to trigger explosives as they have done on several occasions in the past.

Even as sources within the government said there were no credible threats so far, US thinktank STRATFOR earlier this month warned that Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba might be planning attacks during the Commonwealth Games.

Home secretary G K Pillai had visited Jawaharlal Nehru stadium last week and follow-up visits are on the anvil to ensure that security is foolproof for the event.

Each of the 13 competition venues will have a three-tier security ring and special arrangements will be made to transport athletes to and from the Games Village with helicopters carrying commando snipers keeping an eye on the convoys below.

This is to prevent a repeat of the Lahore attack of March 2009 in which militants shot at and injured Sri Lankan cricketers touring Pakistan.

To ensure fleet security, each of the 574 vehicles used for ferrying athletes across the city will have to undergo a mandatory anti-sabotage clearance every morning before athletes board it.

The government has already sanctioned Rs 330 crore for procurement of high-tech weapons and gadgets, armoured vehicles, close-circuit television cameras, metal detectors, bomb disposal equipment and protective gear for chemical and biological attacks.

Over 10,000 athletes from 71 countries, and 500,000 spectators are expected in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games between October 3 and 14.

LeT may target Commonwealth Games: Report

India fears that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the Mumbai carnage, may attempt to strike during the October Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and has voiced its concerns to the US, according to a media report.

The fears were conveyed by the Indian Army leadership to Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was in New Delhi on Friday and Saturday, The Sunday Times said in a dispatch from Islamabad.

LeT carried out the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 that killed 166 people and India fears that the group might target the country again.

After his arrival in Pakistan, Mullen had yesterday said that the LeT has expanded its operations to Afghanistan and the West and has become more active throughout the region.

The paper said the LeT has joined forces with the Taliban in a new alliance to kill western soldiers in Afghanistan.

In the past few weeks NATO commanders are convinced that LeT are behind a string of attacks and influx of fighters into eastern Afghanistan, the newspaper said.

The issue was raised yesterday by Admiral Mullen after he arrived in Islamabad for meetings with Pakistan's powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, the report said.

Outlawed under US pressure in 2002, the group has continued to operate under different names. The LeT's camps have long been used by al-Qaeda for training.

American officials are concerned that LeT has expanded its focus to Afghanistan and now has a more global agenda.

"Since 2008 I've watched them grow... to a terrorist organisation with global aspirations," Mullen said. "It's an organisation which is becoming more lethal, it's in Afghanistan and it's in other countries."

While the Pakistani military has taken action against terrorist groups such as the Pakistani Taliban, it has refused repeated requests from Washington to move against the Afghan Taliban or LeT, the report said.

Flower shops may come up near Delhi foot overbridges

Flower shops and bookstalls may be set up near foot overbridges to check their misuse in Delhi, a minister said Sunday.

"There are complaints that people misuse such structures. But after the Commonwealth Games in October we are planning to set up small shops near the foot overbridges so that there remains some sort of check on such people," Public Works Department Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan told IANS.

He said flower shops and bookstalls are the best options that the government can go for. "Besides, we can work out on some other options after the Games. But, there will be no shops with eatables," Chauhan said.

The public works department has received complaints that people use the spaces near foot overbridges for sleeping, while children play on them and they even become dens of hooligans and beggars.

The department, which is coming up with nearly 80 swanky foot overbridges in the city, has already completed 31 of them. The construction of 26 others is in progress.

The remaining nine foot overbridges are in the planning stage, a government official said.

The public works department deals only with infrastructure, Chauhan said, adding that the department can look at setting up shops or may ask the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) to execute the plan.

The government official said managing those costly and swanky structures remains a daunting task for the department.

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