Monday, August 16, 2010

STA secy holds meet to discuss preparations for C’wealth Games

Keeping in view the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, State Transport Authority Secretary Mahavir Kaushik apprised various buses and taxi operators on Monday to be prepared, as a lot of tourists are expected in the city during that time.
Kaushik called a meeting of representatives of the all India tourist buses, contract carriage buses, LPG auto rickshaws, radio auto and radio taxi operators. The secretary said the spirit of “Atithi Devobhav” should prevail among all tourist vehicle operators. They were told that drivers of all vehicles should be well behaved and in complete uniform.

Besides, fully functional fire extinguisher, first aid box, and complaint/ suggestion book should be available in the vehicles. They must charge according to fare meter. He laid stress on internal as well as external maintenance of vehicles. They must also, at all times, carry Pollution Under Control certificate.

He added the documents regarding the vehicle must be complete in all manners, the drivers must have driving license and the Global Positioning System should be operative in radio taxis and autos. Any complaint from tourists or the general public will invite stern action against the guilty under relevant provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act /Rules, said Kaushik.

The meeting was attended by Gurdeep Singh from Banga Tourist, Tara Singh from Tara Brothers, Manjeet Singh from Nijjer Tourist as representative of the All India/Contract Carriage Bus Operators, Harcharan Singh and Kamal Kant representing LPG Auto Rickshaw Operators, Amandeep Kaushal, Col V S Dhillon from Radio Taxi and H S Maan and Prem Singh from Radio Auto.

Choas greets tourists at Jama Masjid

Tourists headed to Old Delhi during the Commonwealth Games  will be greeted by the usual chaos in and around Jama Masjid. While the roof of the 17th-century monument again started leaking this monsoon, the situation outside doesn't look promising either MCD is yet to start redevelopment work in areas surrounding the mosque.

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had undertaken work on the main monument over three years ago following a Delhi high court order. And even as ASI claimed to have carried out repairs last year, leakage was reported from the dome just recently. This year though, ASI has not undertaken any work at the mosque.

Jama Masjid Shahi Imam SyedAhmed Bukhari said: "I recently wrote to the director general, ASI, and the authority informed us that restoration work will commence after August 15 for which a new estimate has been prepared. The biggest concern is the leakage from the main dome, as it could result in damage to the interiors,'' he said. ASI officials said that they needed more cooperation from the Wakf Board if complaints of leakage from the main dome are received. "Work will soon commence and if the roof is again leaking, we will address the issue more precisely,'' said officials.

ASI officials said conservation was a continuous process and they had already addressed a lot of concerns inside the heritage building such as flooring work and roof repairs. Other works undertaken involve replacing broken chajja stones and restoring damaged sections of marble. However, beautification work of areas around the mosque is yet to see light of the day.

The Jama Masjid redevelopment plan conceived over four years ago underwent many revisions and witnessed several delays in getting necessary clearances from DUAC and ASI. Sources indicate that MCD now plans to start work only after the Games. MCD commissioner K S Mehra said: "The procedures have been completed and work will soon begin.'' Mehra, however, did not indicate a time-frame for the project.

Under the redevelopment plans, new road sections from Subhash Marg and peripheral roads will cater to traffic around the area and adequate provisions for pedestrians and non-motorised vehicles will be made. A bay for tourist buses is also proposed on Subhash Marg. The market/shops around Dargah Sheikh Kalimullah will be turned into single-storey structures built at the level of the ground around Meena Bazar to avoid any obstruction to the view of the area.

A.R Rahman “Yaro India Bula liya” song for commonwealth Games releasing very soon

Rahman claim that the theme song which he prepared for the Commonwealth Games would be far more better than the hugely popular Shakira song “Waka Waka”,which got the entirely different mixture of Hindi and English.

Rahman also said about the lyrics of the song “Yaro India Bula Liya” that the song will be 90% in Hindi and 10% in English.

"I have been working on the song for the past six months. It is in my voice with a chorus and I promise that it will be a big part of the celebration and will be unlike anything that has happened before in India," Rahman told reporters.

"I can’t reveal much because I have to tweak the lyrics a bit and add some sound elements. But the song is about India, about energy, winning and not giving up. We want the crowd to sing along with us at the opening ceremony. It is simple but not simplistic," he said.

The Group of Minister (GoM) on the Games had approved the song at a meeting on Sunday after they heard the song.

"We discussed the theme song among ourselves and A R Rahman, (film director) Shyam Benegal and (producer) Bharat Bala. The GoM has approved the theme song in principle." Urban development minister S Jaipal Reddy, who heads the GoM, had said after the meeting.

Song will be launched officially exactly after10 Days followed by a Rahman live performance.

Commonwealth Games 2010 now only have 48 days to go.Stay tuned.

All venues to be ready in a week's time: Commonwealth Games OC

The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (CWG OC) vice- chairman Randhir Singh on Monday said all the venues are in top shape and will be ready in a week's time. Randhir Singh and CWG OC secretary-general Lalit Bhanot, addressing a joint press conference in New Delhi, said they visited all the venues, except the Kadarpur Shooting Range, in the last couple of days and were satisfied with the preparations.

"I must say that I was very worried until I visited the venues. After seeing the world class facilities, I can say that every venue is in a top shape and we should be proud of it," Randhir said.

"We personally visited the venues for the last five days. We have been to each and every venue except the shooting range in Kadarpur and from there also we got a positive report. We checked every facility thoroughly. We checked each and every room. The field of play is already in a proper shape.

"We checked the rest of the building, the rubble, the grassing of the surface, the gardening etc. We should be proud of the job done by the stakeholders, the Delhi government, DDA and other agencies."

"There are a few things like painting and polishing, a tile broken here and there, such small things are being fixed. Everything will be ready in a week's time. All these minor things will be cleaned up by then and we can even hold an event after that.

"It is very, very encouraging what we saw."

Randhir then went on to give details of the work remaining in various venues.

"The teams from OC have already moved into the stadiums. The Karni Singh shooting range is in an excellent condition. There was a little problem in the trap arena, which is being looked into. The rifle ranges in 50 metre, 25m and 10m are in top condition."

"The Games village will be opened on Sep 16. At least 10 members from every country will come for the athletes registration and they will stay there," he said.

Bhanot said they have also spoken to the venues owners about the mandatory clearance certificates that they need to hand over to CGOC.

"The venue owners are in the process of getting the safety and other clearances from various authorities."

Himachal offers week-long hospitality for CWG record holders

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has announced that his government will provide free week-long boarding and lodging in its hotels to world record holding athletes during the Commonwealth Games.

‘The week-long free package to the world record holders during the Commonwealth Games being held in Delhi is aimed at attracting the best sports talents to visit our state and enjoy the traditional hospitality along with their spouses,’ Dhumal said.

He said that Himachal Pradesh is universally acknowledged as the best destination where visitors from different parts of the world come to spend their holidays.

Claiming that a number of new initiatives had recently been taken by the state with a view to diversify the tourism promotion activities and prolong the stay of visitors, Dhumal said that the state had also launched a home stay scheme to involve rural masses in the promotion of tourism development

He said that the state would be delighted to have the world record holders emerging during the Commonwealth Games as its distinguished guests and extend them not only warm reception but traditional Himachali hospitality as well.

The free stay for the athletes will be organised by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC).

DD hires UK's SIS Live to produce CW Games in HD format

Doordarshan, which has the domestic broadcast rights for the Commonwealth Games 2010, has hired SIS Live of UK for production of the event in high definition (HD) TV format, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Monday.

"The transmission (of Commonwealth Games) in India will be both in HD and standard definition (SD) format," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said while replying to supplementaries during Question Hour.

Arrangements have been made for setting up of International Broadcast Centre (IBC) at Pragati Maidan for broadcast and relay of the games. "All activities in respect of IBC have been entrusted to a consortium comprising Global Television Services Pvt Ltd and Shaf Broadcast Pvt Ltd," she said.

Doordarshan, she said, did not have the technical knowhow and human resources to produce the event in HD format so production and coverage has been outsourced to SIS Live.

SIS Live (Satellite Information Service) is Europe's largest outside broadcast (OB) and uplink supplier.

"There has not been any recruitment for the purpose. However, Doordarshan has trained 300 personnel for the Games and a large number of personnels are being deployed for doing the Rights Holding Broadcaster (RHB) duties for exclusive coverage of games within India," she said.

To a question, she said at the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention it has been decided that all stadiums will cover all spots that were oozing unnecessary or direct sunlight that impact HD format production.

"It has been decided that the Organising Committee will cover all those areas where unnecessary or direct sunlight was coming," she said.

Doordarshan has engaged 691 personnel, including retired people, in different categories on yearly contract against the existing 5,097 vacancies to manage the work smoothly, she said.

"Group of Minister (GOM) has now taken a decision for Prasar Bharati to set up recruitment boards. Accordingly, steps are being taken and recruitment rules are getting finalised to fill up the vacancies," the minister added.

India fears Commonwealth Games embarrassment

With less than 50 days to go before the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, concerns about India's lack of preparedness have reached a fever pitch.
Fear of national embarrassment over India's notorious inability to deliver infrastructure has triggered a search for those responsible.

After an emergency meeting at the weekend, Manmohan Singh, prime minister, ordered investigations into complaints of corruption and mismanagement.

He named a panel, to be headed by S. Jaipal Reddy, minister of urban development, to supervise the completion of construction of venues still lacking toilets, safe access and catering facilities.

Earlier this month, a new weightlifting arena was met with public derision after its corrugated iron roof failed to keep out heavy monsoon rains.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata party has protested against the ballooning cost of the games -- now estimated at more than Rs100bn ($2.1 billion) compared with an original estimate of Rs19bn -- and inflated contracts handed to businesses ill-equipped to deliver.

Suresh Kalmadi, a senior Congress party politician and head of the games' local organizing committee, and Sheila Dikshit, the chief minister of Delhi, have been singled out for vilification in the national press.

"The prime minister observed that there had been slippages in the time schedules of some of the construction works and deficiencies had also been observed in some of the works," Mr Singh's office said in a statement.

It said the government needed "to gain public confidence by instilling order and carrying out effective supervision of the preparation works." The Central Vigilance Commission, an anti-corruption watchdog, has identified 16 projects where financial irregularities are suspected.

Mr Singh's high-profile intervention comes ahead of a deadline on Wednesday for a team of outside experts to assess the quality and safety of the games venues and their suitability for top-class athletes.

Much to the Indian government's disappointment, a string of athletes from Commonwealth countries, including Chris Hoy, the medal-winning British cyclist and Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter, have pulled out of the event, citing clashes with sporting commitments elsewhere.

Queen Elizabeth II has sent similar regrets. "The stadiums we built match the best in the world and far in excess of the requirement," said M S Gill, sports minister. "It is therefore sad that some of the leading sportspersons are not coming to India."

Hoteliers in India's capital too say bookings have been disappointing. Some senior politicians and commentators have been scathing in their criticism of the games, eroding public confidence in what was supposed to be a national showcase for an emerging Asian power akin to Beijing's hosting of the Olympics in 2008.

Mani Shankar Aiyar, a member of the upper house of parliament and former sports minister, said he hoped the Commonwealth Games would fail so as to deter India from hosting other large sporting events.

Even Mr Gill has said he would not wish India to host the Olympic Games as most of its 1.2 billion people are not interested in organized sport and should not bear the cost of it.

M J Akbar, a senior journalist and publisher of the International Herald Tribune in India, described the games as an unsuccessful ruse by India's elite to bring new infrastructure, such as a metro system, to the capital city ahead of more deserving cities.

As far back as three years ago preparations were running into trouble. Then activists were kicking up a fuss about an athletes' village being built on the flood plain of the sacred Yamuna river.

A.R. Rahman asks media to project 'positive image' of CWG

Oscar winner A.R. Rahman, who has composed the theme song of the Commonwealth Games, said Monday that he was pained by the negative publicity for the mega sporting event.

Appealing to the media to present a positive image of the Games, Rahman said: "It is my humble request to you (media) to present a positive image of the Games to the international community."

"Hundreds of people are working day and night for making the Games successful. People across the world are asking if India will be able to hold them successfully... so kindly bring a positive image to the Games," the music maestro told reporters during a function in the capital.

Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi quoted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Independence Day address in which he said the Oct 3-14 Games would be a "national festival".

"With 30 days to go for the opening of the Games village, we are confident of a great Games," Kalmadi said.

With the delay in preparations and corruption allegations in the biggest sporting event being organised in India since the 1982 Asiad Games, Manmohan Singh Saturday issued clear instructions that the facilities for the Games be made ready in time and meet international standards.

Doordarshan not hiring hands for CWG, says Soni

As Doordarshan goes into the high-definition mode for the Commonwealth Games, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni Monday said no new recruitments will be made in the national network for the event.

Admitting that there are large number of vacancies in Doordarshan, Soni said the recruitment board has been constituted by the government to fill up the vacancies.

There are 5,097 vacancies but they are not for the Commonwealth Games, Doordarshan did not feel the need for recruit for the Games, Soni said replying to the supplementaries in the Rajya Sabha Monday.

The minister said that a Group of Ministers has been set up to look into the vacancies and its report will be submitted by the end of this month.

She added that training is being given to the present staff for the Games.

Doordarshan has trained 300 personnel for Commonwealth Games and a large number of people are being deployed for doing the Rights Holding Broadcaster duties for exclusive coverage of the Games within the country, Soni said.

The minister said that a committee, of which she and union Law Minister Veerappa Moily are members, is looking into various issues related to the high definition telecast of the Games.

There was an issue of extra light coming in some stadiums, the Organising Committee has assured that it will cover all those areas from where unnecessary light or sunlight is coming in, Soni said.

Some members had pointed out that sunlight in the stadiums may effect the quality of high definition telecast.

Doordarshan will go into high definition mode for the first time for the telecast of the Commonwealth Games Oct 3-14.

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