Monday, July 26, 2010

MCD finally gets money from Delhi govt

The cash-strapped Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has finally managed to secure a sum of Rs 1,490 crore from Delhi government as the first instalment of its initial demand of Rs 4,500 crore.

This money will, however, not be used to fast-track Commonwealth Games projects, according to mayor P R Sawhney. The civic agency said it will wait for the second instalment to fund its various Games projects.

According to Delhi mayor P R Sawhney, Delhi government will release the amount on Tuesday. "MCD will receive Rs 390 crore to fund its non-plan expenditure, another Rs 500 crore to fund its plan expenditure and it will receive Rs 100 crore as grant. MCD will further be given a sum of Rs 500 crore in the form of a sanctioned loan," said Sawhney.

MCD claims that it will use the amount to immediately pay the 3,000 contractors who are currently on strike demanding pending salaries. Besides this, it will use the funds to pay pension amount due to the elderly, widows and the physically handicapped for a period of three months.

The remaining amount will be used to pay discretionary funds to its councillors. In January this year, MCD had passed a resolution to pay discretionary funds ranging between Rs 1 crore and Rs 3 crore to each member of its deliberative wing for funding various projects at their respective levels.

"Our Games projects are mainly on-track. Whatever little is required will be looked into soon after the state government releases the second instalment. The state government has released a part of our requirement and will release the rest later as it also has the burden of completing its own Games projects," Sawhney said.

On July 23, in a four-page letter written to Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta on Thursday, MCD commissioner K S Mehra had said that while the MCD was making every effort to augment its internal revenue resources and to curtail expenditures without hampering development work, it required a grant of Rs 3,539 crore in grant and another Rs 1,000 crore in loan for paying salaries, funding various Commonwealth Games-related projects and for compensating its poor property tax collections among other things.

Coke, Hero Honda warm up for Games

Concerns about whether the infrastructure set up for the Commonwealth Games is adequate and the event has been adequately marketed as a national spectacle still remain and this has resulted in lacklustre sponsorship. However, a few sponsors see the Games as a huge opportunity to market their brands, thanks to the expected influx of people from around the world and the scale of operation of the Games. While Coca-Cola India is the official beverage partner, the organising committee has also roped in other private players like Hero Honda, Adidas and Reebok.

The Games, to be held over two weeks, brings together 54 nations, mostly former British colonies, every four years.

Coca-Cola India, as the official beverage partner, will have its products like carbonated soft drinks and juices sold to spectators and served to all the athletes, team officials and volunteers during the Games. For Coca-Cola, sporting events like the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games are the best way to connect with consumers. “We have always been associated with sporting events around the world because we feel that it fits well into the brand strategy to drive engagement with our consumers. We are soon going to roll out a 360-degree campaign to market the brand in association with the Games,” said a Coca-Cola India spokesperson.

The organising committee has two lead partners, 10 partners and 12 sponsors. It has categorised those sponsors who would get a sponsorship worth Rs 100 crore each as lead partners, those who would get Rs 50 crore worth of sponsorships each as partners, and those who would get Rs 25 crore as sponsors, the organising committee had said in March, 2010. The lead partner for the games is Indian Railways while National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Central Bank of India, Hero Honda, Reebok and Adidas, among others, will serve as partners and sponsors. On being asked whether the organising committee is scouting for another lead sponsor, a Games spokesperson said that it is not.

The sponsorship target for the Games is reportedly almost three times that of Melbourne 2006, which was the most successful Games in terms of revenue generation so far.

Interestingly, Hero Honda has been associated with all major sporting events that have taken place in the past few months like the Indian Premier League and the Hockey World Cup. A spokesperson from Hero Honda, in an email statement, said, “These events are aimed.

False ceiling at CWG pool gives away

Less than three weeks after its inauguration and on eve of the the Federation Cup swimming meet, the false ceiling of the warm-up pool at the Dr SP Mukherjee Aquatics Complex gave away on Monday.

Luckily for the organisers, no swimmers were around when the mishap took place. However, there was panic among the 250 swimmers and divers who were taking part the meet that happens to be a test event for the Commonwealth Games.

There have been scores of construction workers at the venue as the changing room were being given finishing touches. A Swimming Federation of India (SFI) official hoped things will be place just before the start of the event. “They have assured that everything will be ready by Tuesday,” he said without committing himself on the subject.

Meanwhile, the SFI officials confirmed that they will not be in a position to hold the high-board diving since the infrastructure was not ready. The official refused to talk on the technical deficiencies of the pool’s draining system but said that the matter would be taken up with the Games Technical Conduct Committee (GTCC) people.

The first day of the Federation Cup will see 10 events, including two relays. The meet is important for all the swimmers as it will form basis for selection of the team to participate in the Commonwealth Games.

Tennis stadium handed to Games panel, work at other venues crawls

R K Khanna stadium, the venue for the tennis events, has been handed over to the Organising Committee of Commonwealth Games on Monday. The Organising Committee can heave a breath of relief as at least one stadium has been handed over to them for putting the overlays in place before the August 1 deadline.

At present, a BSES line is being laid close to the stadium connecting it to two grids to ensure power back-up.

This is the first time that tennis has been made part of Commonwealth Games. The central court of the stadium has a seating capacity of 5,000 besides six practice courts. It also has many environment friendly features, including solar lighting, Intelligent Building Management System, rainwater harvesting and dual flushing systems, among others.

Work on the other nine competition venues, however, is far from over. For instance, even though Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will inaugurated by the Sports minister on Tuesday, horticulture and other landscaping work are still going on at the venue. Inside the stadium, “finishing touches” are being given.

The status of work at SP Mukherjee Stadium is probably the worst, where red tents hide the ongoing work behind it. The street-scaping work is lagging behind and so is the horticulture and landscaping work.

All the stadiums have to be handed over to the Commonwealth Organising Committee by August 1 so that all the necessary overlays like — timing and scoring machines, cabling, setting up tents, etc, can be fitted in the stadiums.

What’s the future of stadiums?’
What will happen to the stadiums once the Games is over? The question left even Union Urban Development minister Jaipal Reddy wondering on Monday. “I do not know what we will be doing with the stadiums post the Games. I think all the agencies involved need to sit together to solve this problem,” he said during the handing over ceremony of RK Khanna Tennis Stadium. Incidentally, Reddy heads the Group of Ministers on Commonwealth Games. Reddy was later overheard discussing the issue with All India Tennis Academy officials. “If the stadium is not put in regular use, it cannot be maintained I believe,” he said. Reddy also mentioned the last-minute rush to complete the work. “We have a habit of doing everything nicely but at the last minute,” he said.

Fail deadline, get blacklisted: CM Sheila Dikshit

With several Commonwealth Games still struggling to meet the deadline, a nervous CM issued a warning to contractors constructing roads and pavements for Delhi. Any delay beyond the August 31, the deadline for completion of all Games-related projects, will lead to a blacklisting. In a meeting with contractors, CM Sheila Dikshit said the firms that don’t meet the deadline would be penalized and blacklisted.

Any compromise with the quality of work will not be tolerated, she said.

“Do not put us to shame. Your little carelessness will bring bad name to the entire nation,” she reportedly told the contractors.

Senior Delhi government officials said the CM was concerned about reports of stadiums, pavements and roads being washed away in just one spell of rain. Dikshit’s cabinet colleagues and senior bureaucrats had also found tardy work and poor construction quality during their inspections of under-construction venues and roads.

Dikshit also asked the contractors to bring any kind of obstacle to the notice of the government to ensure the the matter was resolved quickly.

With little more than two months to the Games, the city government is under tremendous pressure to complete all Games-related projects in time. Early last week, Dikshit announced a month’s salary to the entire team of engineers as reward if the Games get over successfully. She also exhorted the engineers and workers to work round the clock.

Senior government officials said two important arterial roads, a couple of flyovers, and several streetscaping and streetlighting projects are yet to be completed. Some of them, accept officials, may take more than a month to complete.

On complaints of delay in payment raised by the contractors, Dikshit said money would not be a problem.

Thanks to Games, Tughlaq-era monument gets new life

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was supposed to protect it, but after issuing a preliminary notification, the central agency all but forgot it. Now, thanks to the Commonwealth Games and more importantly, its location, a small Tughlaq era monument, called Phoota Gumbad, is getting a facelift.

Delhi’s State Archaeological Department has recently started work on the monument, situated to the south west of the Jawaharlal Nehru (JLN) Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Games, among other events.

Earlier, a team of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) had given approval for the stadium’s renovation work. Sources said the DUAC observations were very clear, “It (the tomb) must be retained and integrated with the stadium design. There should be no damage to the monument.”

Fortunately, there has been no damage to the structure of the monument but it presents a very odd site, ensconced as it is between the strong iron girders of the renovated Stadium.

The ASI had issued the preliminary notification for the monument in March 2004, along with two other structures within the JLN Stadium premises, one on the north west side called Kala Gumbad and the other, on the south west side, without a name.

The agency brought out the final notification for a 16 faced unknown tomb in December 2004 but the same was not done for the remaining two tombs.

“Till the time a final notification is issued, it is understood that the monument is under the state archaeology department,” said ASI spokesperson Dr B R Mani. He, however, did not give any reasons for not issuing the final notification.

The State Archaeology Department’s Jaspal Singh said, “The conservation work could not have been taken up before the civil work for the stadium was completed. Now that it is complete, we have started the conservation work and we are confident of completing it in a month’s time.”

CAG report on Commonwealth Games be made public: Delhi BJP

Delhi BJP today demanded that a CAG report on Commonwealth Games be made public as it would expose the "false" claims of the organising committee regarding the preparedness for the mega sporting event.

"The party demands that the fresh report of the CAG be made public," a press release quoting Delhi BJP President Vijender Gupta said. "This will expose the false claims of the Games Organising Committee," it said.

It also claimed the prime minister was "unsatisfied" with the preparations for the Games and had asked the auditing body to prepare a detailed report.

CAG, in a report in 2009, had expressed concerns over the slow pace of progress of all the projects connected with the Games, the release said.

The Prime Minister's office should make the report public, it added.

All pending work of CWG 2010 will be completed on time: Sheila

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday claimed that all pending work would be completed on time before Commonwealth Games 2010 to be held in the month of October.

Of late, the pending work related to CWG 2010 has drawn wide public attention.

Dikshit, however, looked confident after presiding over the Cabinet meeting of Delhi Government on Monday and reiterated there would be no deviation in deadlines fixed for completion of work.

“No, 31st August is the deadline, that all the work will done. In September, the finishing touches will be given. All the contractors related to electricity, street-scaping… we called for a briefing. We also told them that if they face any problem from any other agency including the police they would be helped; we even requested the police and they have even agreed to it that they will not arrest anybody who is working at nights,” said Sheila Dikshit.

She issued directives to the Public Working Department (PWD) to concentrate on completing works on roads close to the Games Village and to ensure proper street lighting.

“It is absolutely not like that…all those who are involved are getting money on time. This kind of complains must be done by the big contactors only. But, nowhere, we, Raj Kumar Chauhan, Minister in-charge for the PWD (Public Working Department) or our Transport Minister (Arvinder Singh Lovely) or our Welfare Minister (Kiran Walia)…or even our Finance Minister (A K Walia)…all of them have said that shortage of money should not be reason to stop the work. The payment is given to everybody, somebody is saying this thing,” Dikshit added.

She sternly warned the contractors who do not meet the deadline or execute a sub-standard job that they would be blacklisted.

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