Wednesday, July 28, 2010

All is well in Delhi, Chairman assures International Security Administrators

Assuring the security administrators attending the International Security Liaison Conference , the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (OC CWG Delhi 2010) Chairman Mr. Suresh kalmadi, MP, said that visiting security experts can assure the athletes and sports persons in their respective countries that “All is well in Delhi”.

The International Security Conference is being organised by the International Security Liaison Group (ISLG) and OC CWG Delhi 2010 from 28 to 29 July 2010 in New Delhi’s The Ashok Hotel.

The Chairman said, “Security is a critical component for the success of the Games. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Delhi Police  will ensure that the Games are held in a safe and secure environment not only at all the competition and non-competition venues, but throughout the length and breadth of the city of Delhi”.

“The Delhi Police is planning a very strong security ring around the city and several layers of checks and filters with the help of the latest technology and trained and experienced security personnel at the games Village and at all the venues” he added.

OC chairman informed the delegates that a Games Operation Centre headed the the CEO would function at the Games headquarters round the clock to resolve all issues and that he himself would chair the Games Time Managing Committee to look into any critical issues which may arise.

During the interactive two-day conference which is for the security professionals from the member nations and territories of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Delhi Police will make a detailed presentation to update the members on the security processes in place.

CWG 2010: Squandering away Rs 35K cr common wealth

Reverberations of senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks on the Commonwealth Games preparations was still being felt by the government. Though Congress managers rushed in to downplay the former Union minister’s remarks, there was a growing concern about the fate of the event.

Mr Aiyar’s caustic comments on the Games may have been frowned upon publicly by his party colleagues, but they have found traction with large sections. Several Congress leaders in private spoke of growing doubts about the Games passing off without any major mishap and the organiser’s ability to hold an event of such scale without a blemish.

While disapproving of the public spat between the two senior Congress leaders, party spokesman Manish Tewari said here on Wednesday that a post-mortem of the Games will be done, if necessary, after its conclusion.

Mr Aiyar had expressed his unhappiness with such a large amount of money being spent in the name of the Games and felt that India would have been much better off had this money been spent on the uplift of the poor.

Speaking with a remarkable candour on a day when the city received good showers, Mr Aiyar said: “I am delighted in a way because rains are causing difficulties for the Commonwealth Games. Basically, I will be very unhappy, if the Games are successful because then they will start rooting for Asian Games, Olympic Games.” “Those who are patronising the Games can only be evil. They cannot be God,” he said.

There are fears within the government about the fall-out of any slip-up during the fortnight-long event, and the impact it may have on the country’s image across the world.

Not only have preparations of the venues been schedule, questions are being raised at the manner in which large amounts of public money is spent. While speculation about large-scale corruption has been swirling around for quite some time, the decision by CVC to step into the frame have only lent credence to the allegations.

Delhi finance minister A K Walia, who’s also a member of the Commonwealth Co-ordination Committee stoked fears about the Games on Wednesday when he said that he was not sure if all stadia would be ready by the August 15 deadline.

Mr Walia visited the Yamuna Sports Complex in East Delhi on Wednesday morning. The venue will host archery and table tennis events. “The way the work is going on, I have doubts over some of the Games venues but I hope that they will be ready in time,” Mr Walia said. Waterlogging was reported from Yamuna Sports Complex last week after heavy rains lashed the capital.

The budget for holding the Games was initially pegged at `345 crore, but has now swelled to some `35,000 crore, forcing many people to question the decision to go for it.

Commonwealth Games: Finally, workers get some legal cover

Labourers working at Commonwealth Games project sites finally have some reason to smile.

A week since a drive was started by the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA), along with with the labour department and Delhi government, to ensure the rights of workers under labour laws, around 2,000 workers have successfully been registered and verified.

DLSA, which appointed a three-lawyer panel to look into the condition of Games project labourers, is holding camps every day till August 5 at various sites. So far, the panel has visited Akhsardham complex, Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, Shastri park and Indira Gandhi International Airport site, Tughklak Road metro station and R K Khanna stadium.

DLSA project officer Gautam Manan, who is spearheading the drive, said all workers at different sites are being registered as per labour laws. The workers are also being insured against any kind of damage. "The camps sensitize the workers about their rights and insurance in case of any mishap. Most of these workers are daily wage earners and little do they realise that these things make a difference in their lives,'' he said.

The DLSA drive comes a week after the Delhi high court directed the government to verify the registration of all workers at Games sites across the capital. Despite the claims of the government that around 3,000 workers had been registered in the last two months, HC in its order on a PIL filed by Peoples' Union For Democratic Rights on the plight of the Games workers took a stern view of the situation. "It is worth noting that the figures that are stated in the affidavit do not refer to workers employed for the purpose of CWG...the learned counsel for the state could not clarify whether all the workers who are registered are employed in CWG or elsewhere,'' the court noted on the affidavit filed by the Delhi government saying "around 4,000 applications were being processed and over 31,000 workers had been registered till date''.

It directed the Delhi government to verify the "registrations that had been made'' and sought the "exact number of workers registered with the CWG". The HC also set up a three-member panel a third body apart from a workers' welfare board and a monitoring committee to sensitise them on their entitlements.

The HC was earlier told that around 48 workers had died at various Games site and due to the absence of any registration, the families of the deceased could not get any compensation.

31 nations to be briefed on 4-tier Games security

Security heads from 31 participating nations will review security arrangements for the Commonwealth Games on Thursday, taking stock of the four-layered cover that will be thrown around key venues during the mega sporting event.

Representatives from 31 countries, including Pakistan, are set to take a tour of the newly-constructed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held, as well as the Games village where participating teams will be put up.

Live security demonstrations will be given to security heads to help showcase preparedness of agencies to ensure foolproof protection to venues and players.

“They will be shown the four-layer security network, and things like how spectators will be frisked, vehicles checked and potential terror threats warded off. Rescue and evacuation drills will also be showcased,” a senior official overseeing the security arrangements said.

Eight heads of state have confirmed that they would be attending the Games, even as the government expects a dozen heads of state to grace the event. Only the heads of state will enjoy the privilege of being driven in cars to the games venue.

Remaining VIPs, including MPs and senior judges, will have to arrive in a bus. As per security plan, athletes and officials will be allowed into the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium only in bus. It is with this in mind that the parking of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium has been designed to accommodate 150 buses.

Over 10,000 athletes from 71 countries and 500,000 spectators are expected to take part in the Games to be held from October 3.

Each of the 13 competition venues for the Games will have a tight 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.

A ‘village’ full of India’s traditional artists

An artist village is coming up at Delhi Cantonment to accommodate the 2,500 artists who are coming to perform at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 19th Commonwealth Games. The Organizing Committee (OC) is getting its act together to host the artists who will be mesmerising the spectators with their dance during the 12 day sporting extravaganza starting from October 3. The dress rehearsal for different cultural events would start from August 1.

“Artists would start arriving in another three to four days. The village would be ready by then,” said an OC official.

But those working on the ground are a bit sceptical about the OC's claims as far as preparations at the ‘village’ is concerned.

For the opening ceremony alone there will be around 15,000 participants, including the 2,500 professional artists.

Panel breaks catering tender into three

The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, which is still finding catering for the event too hot to handle, has now decided to break the problem down to bite sizes to make it easy. Instead of one tender for all catering needs, from athletes to security staff, three tenders will now be floated.

Till now the Organising Committee has only signed a single catering contract, with Australian firm Delaware North, for the Games Village. The Committee still has no clue who will serve food at the competition and non-competition venues to athletes, games technical officials, VIPs, workforce, volunteers and security staff.

After a bit of a reshuffle in staff who are handling the catering, the Committee is trying to sort out the matter now. The catering has been divided into three parts with separate tenders for VIPs, which includes athletes, technical officials and games officials, another for the workforce, volunteers and security staff and the last for food stalls to cater to spectators.

For VIPs, the organising committee is discussing the possibility of hiring the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation. “The way talks are going on at present it is highly unlikely that the OC and IRCTC will be able to iron out a deal. We will have to float a tender,” said a senior Organising Committee official.

The catering budget has already gone haywire and the committee wants Rs 121 crore more. Even the Rs 106-crore Games Village contract was signed after the tender was floated twice. Delaware North’s first bid was rejected on the excuse that the firm had not paid the earnest money.

The Committee had invited an expression of interest for providing catering services at competition and non-competition venues in 11 parts. Five firms had submitted their bids totaling around Rs 77.93 crore. After negotiations the amount came down to Rs 73.22 crore. The Committee, which had initially fixed the total catering budget at Rs 63.33 crore, found this too high. After trimming the menu and number of people the price came down to Rs 68.46 crore. But even this price was way too high, so all tenders were cancelled. No contracts, however, had been signed with any firm.

Delegates briefed about Games security

Delegates from 71 Commonwealth Games federations are in the Capital for a last-minute briefing to clear doubts related to security for the event. On Wednesday, the delegates were briefed about security arrangements by the Delhi Police and CISF. The CISF is in charge of the venues, while the Delhi Police are responsible for the overall security and traffic management. Off late several think-tanks across the globe have expressed security concerns about the Games. Many have even warned that Delhi would be attacked by Lashkar operatives. “We have briefed all delegates and cleared their doubts about any security threat to the Games. We have also told them in detail about the security arrangements in place,” said Delhi Police special commissioner Neeraj Kumar.

MCD refusing completion certificate for Karni Singh Stadium

With the Commonwealth Games just two months away, MCD is refusing approval to issue completion certificate for the shooting venue of the mega event due to a pending proposal for widening the road leading to it.

A proposal regarding layout plan of the Karni Singh Stadium in Tughlakabad was postponed by a meeting of the MCD Standing Committee today after the area councillor raised objections. The MCD has already completed dense-carpeting of the existing road leading to the venue.

Councillor Sarita Chaudhary had been demanding that the widening of the road also be done along with the improvement, but MCD officials argue that this will involve cutting of trees and a prolonged procedural delay.

"According to the master plan of Delhi, the road should be 60 m wide. They have now improved only the existing road which is 10 metres wide. Road widening is important as it will help ease the traffic congestion in the area. If they cannot widen now, they should at least demarcate the area so that the road can be expanded to 60 m later," she said.

The Standing Committee today refused to approve the layout plan. "We will not approve it till the issue of road widening is resolved," Chaudhary said.

MCD officials insist that the area where road widening is being proposed by the councillor is part of the southern ridge. "It will take a lot of time to get clearance related to the Indian Forest Act as the road widening will involve felling at least 1,000 trees," said a senior MCD official.

Chaudhary said, "It is not that trees were not cut for any Games projects in Delhi. If we cut some trees, we can plant double the number. But traffic situation is very bad on the stretch and widening of the road is quite important. I have been raising this issue for the last so many years but nothing is being done," she said.

Seeking quota, Jats threaten to disrupt CWG

Thousands of Jats on Wednesday attempted to storm the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee office here during their protest demanding quota in jobs but were prevented by police.

The Jat Mahasabha, which is spearheading the protest, threatened that they will try everything possible to disrupt the sporting extravaganza if their demand was not met with.

Carrying torches similar to that of the Games, the protesters marched towards the Games' headquarters from their protest site, a few hundred metres away at Jantar Mantar, but were prevented by police from marching ahead.

A large number of police personnel were deployed near the protest site to prevent the protesters and ensure that no untoward incident takes place.

"Some of the protesters tried to enter the Games office which is across Jantar Mantar. However, we managed to prevent them and stopped them from crossing the road towards the office," a senior police officer said.

The protest created traffic snarls in the city though police said there were no major problems.

"From petrol to vegetables, everything that reaches Delhi passes through our area. If our demands are not met, we would not only disrupt the supply of essential goods to the capital but also disrupt the Games," a Jat leader said addressing the protesters.

Pakistan won't recall Abbas for Commonwealth Games

Sohail Abbas, Pakistan's record-breaking hockey player, will not feature in October's Commonwealth Games (CWG) in New Delhi as the country's hockey bosses have decided against including the veteran player in the national team.

A top Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) official said Wednesday that Abbas will not be invited for the preparatory camp for the Oct 3-14 Games because Pakistan doesn't need the short corner expert, who holds the record of scoring the highest number of goals in international hockey, anymore.

"We will not be inviting Abbas for the Commonwealth Games camp, we don't need him anymore," said Asif Bajwa, PHF secretary, according to a newspaper.

Abbas skipped the team's training camp for the Europe tour last month and instead opted for the Bangladeshi League without informing the PHF, after he was disgruntled on his omission from the team for the Azlan Shah tournament.

Bajwa said the federation played its role by inviting the drag flick specialist repeatedly and will not ask him again to join the camp.

He also claimed that the team performed well in the Europe tour and did not miss the veteran player as Pakistan attempted to retain its lost status in hockey.

"The team showed improvement in Europe, where we achieved satisfactory results without Abbas," he said.

Pakistan will prepare for the CWG in two phases. The first phase will begin with a training camp in Abbottabad Aug 12-26. The team will then fly for a training camp to the Netherlands Sep 1-20. Bajwa said that chief selector Hanif Khan would announce the list of probables soon.

Meanwhile, Bajwa expressed satisfaction over the performance of Michel Van Den Heuvel, the team's new coach from the Netherlands, following the Europe tour which was the Dutchman's first assignment in the role.

Pakistan drew three matches against Spain, won the only battle against France and drew two matches against Holland during their two-week long sojourn.

Bajwa, who accompanied the team in Europe, said he saw positive changes in the team.

"There were some notable changes in the team. The coach has brought positive changes and we are happy with his performance. Heuvel is currently in Netherlands and will be returning before the Abbottabad camp to supervise the team's training. Heuvel will be back early next month to join the team and we are hoping for better results under him in the Commonwealth Games," he said.

We are with Govt in making CWG a success', says Vijender

Delhi BJP president Vijender Gupta today assured full support to the government in making the Commonwealth Games successful and said it should speed up the pace of Games-related projects to build a ''good image of the national capital''. ''We are with the government in making the Games successful. If the government needs our help, thousands of BJP workers are ready for that. But it should work honestly in completing the projects well in time,'' Mr Gupta told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of Delhi BJP unit's monthly magazine 'Bhajpa Sandesh'.

However, he lambasted the Delhi government for the delay in the Games-related projects.

''Games were announced in 2003. What was the government doing for so many years. Now even Congress Ministers, who visited the sites have expressed their displeasure over delay in several projects.'' He claimed that though the government has so far spent thousands of crores of rupees over the 12-day international sports event, several projects were lagging behind schedule.

Mr Gupta expressed hope that 'Bhajpa Sandesh' would create awareness among the workers on party activities.

The party would bring forth the government's failures before the people through the magazine, he added.

Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu lauded Mr Gupta's efforts to strengthen the party and exposing the government's failure on all fronts.

''We must get back Delhi, which used to be our stronghold,'' said Mr Naidu, who was recently appointed Delhi in-charge of the party.

Mr Gupta presented him a memorandum of 600,000 signatures against steep price rise.

While speaking on the occasion, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Leader of the Opposition in Delhi Assembly, said the magazine would also provide guidance to the BJP workers so that the party can further develop, especially in Delhi.

Game near, Delhi Police seeks to optimise manpower, resources

Many Delhi Police constables, cooks, drivers and cleaners often find themselves working in the homes of high-ranking officers. But they may soon be deployed on Commonwealth Games duty as the short-staffed force tries to optimise on its manpower and resources for the mega event.

It is also an open secret that cars for official purposes are frequently used for personal chores by officers and their families. These too are set to be put on Games duty.

Delhi Police Commissioner Y.S. Dadwal has directed special commissioners and joint commissioners to review the manpower and vehicles deployed in their respective zones. A detailed review report has to be submitted by Sep 15.

"During the games every officer has to perform and to take extra effort for the games," said Dadwal at the Delhi Police headquarters during a meeting in preparation for the Oct 3-14 event.

"Every district has to make a detailed review of vehicles and manpower so that each and every personnel on duty is accounted for on legitimate official duty," minutes of the meeting read.

Last year the ministry of home affairs also held a meeting with Delhi Police asking them to see whether their personnel and vehicles were being utilized properly.

It had also asked the Comptroller and Auditor General to conduct an audit. "All the districts conducted their internal manpower audit and submitted the report. During the exercise, a large number of personnel who were unauthorisedly employed with officers were withdrawn," the minutes of the meeting noted.

A senior police official told IANS on condition of anonymity: "Those police employees working as cooks, sweepers and drivers in the homes of retired police officers will also be utilised for Games."

The idea is to utilise during the Games such police employees who are otherwise deployed at the homes of retired as well as serving police officers. Vehicles will also not be allowed for personal purposes.

Not only this. Several officers may be left without their official cars, as these will be used to provide security to delegates and sportspersons during the October Games.

In order to increase their strength, Delhi Police have also decided to rope in "physical training instructors" from police training colleges into the security services.

The strength of Delhi police is around 69,000 men. But, according to officials, around 13,700 men who are undergoing training at present would also be ready to take charge during the Games. This will take the total strength of the force to over 80,000.

Delhi Police had recruited 6,700 men in December last year and the batch is almost ready for deployment. A few months ago, another 7,000 constables were recruited and were imparted basic training for patrolling with an eye on the Games.

To meet the demands of the security force, police have also floated tenders for hiring cooks to be deployed at various barracks and police stations during the Games.

Delhi Police have been floating tenders for the past six months to hire cars as escort vehicles for the buses and other vehicles ferrying delegates and players.

Govt to lease out CommonWealth Games stadia!

In a major public-private partnership effort in sports infrastructure, the Centre has finalised a plan to offer five major sports complexes built for the Commonwealth Games on a 10-year agreement to companies after the games are over.

Companies will need a minimum of Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) as their net worth to bid for the two big stadia -- JN Stadium and Indira Gandhi Sports Complex.

For the remaining three -- Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Swimming Pool Complex and Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range -- the net worth for bidding would be Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion).

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has asked Feedback Ventures to advise it on the bidding process and has floated a request for qualification (RFQ) from interested companies, which will close on August 23.

The ministry, along with Sports Authority of India (SAI), held a meeting today under the aegis of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry with companies to discuss details.

Representatives from Reliance IMG, Wipro, Coca-Cola, GTL Teleservices, AISA, Australian Trade Commission, 21st Century Media and Golf Academy were among those who attended the meeting. Sources said several of these companies have shown interest in the bidding process.

Under the terms for bidding, the company which offers the highest annual fee and wins the bid will be allowed branding rights over the stadia, permission to sub-let built up space, use the venue for concerts and sports-related activities and running academies, among other things.

They will also have rights for ticket sales and parking in the area. Even sponsorship rights on events organised by sports federations will be given to them as part of the deal.

In return, it has to maintain, operate and manage the stadia and ensure a certain number of days are reserved for sports federations which want to use the premises for events, at subsidised rates.

The private party will not be allowed to lease the premises out for religious events, political rallies or anything that jeapardises security of the country. It will also not be allowed to bring any structural change to the stadia.

Gopal Krishna, secretary, SAI, told Business Standard, "We had an interactive session with the stakeholders to understand issues related to the concept. We intended to seek their suggestions to improve the plan and process in this regard. We are holding another round of meetings with the industry and stakeholders in Mumbai on 30th July."

The government has spent Rs 2,400 crore (Rs 24 billion) so far on renovating and refurbishing these stadiums for the Games.

Concerns have been raised that once the event is over, this large infrastructure might be left in disuse and, as was seen after the Asian Games in 1982 in Delhi, deteriorate due to lack of maintenance.

The move is expected to get the government a steady stream of revenue, which could be used for promoting sports as well as ensuring that the world-class infrastructure is maintained. It would also give opportunities to sport management companies, in collaboration with corporate groups, to develop new sports properties, as had happened with the Indian Premier League in cricket.

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