Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Games venues likely to be handed over to police by September 7

The government cannot commit whether all Commonwealth Games venues will be handed over to the Delhi Police by September 7, so that security facilities can be put in place.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who conducted a security review on Wednesday, said the police will have one week to put all security overlays — metal barriers, tyre busters, CCTVs and metal detectors — and conduct anti-sabotage drills before another review is done on September 15.

However, asked if all venues would be ready in time for the handover, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy could only say: “They will be more or less ready for takeover by security.”

He was speaking to journalists after a meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on the Games late on Wednesday evening.

Rain worry

This points to yet more delay and extended deadlines, for which the GoM is largely pinning the blame on the weather. “We are worried about the rains,” said Sports Minister M.S. Gill.

Despite this worry, the GoM could not reveal any contingency plan in case the downpours continue during the Games itself. “If it rains one or two days before October 3, we could have a plan-B,” said Mr. Reddy. “Some items could be reviewed.”

The opening and closing ceremonies were discussed in detail at the GoM meeting, but the Ministers studiously avoided comment on the reports that some sections have been disappointed by A.R. Rahman's theme song. “I have nothing to say on that. It has been approved by the GoM,” said Mr. Gill. “The theme song was entrusted to Rahman. His word is the last word,” added Mr. Reddy

The Queen's Baton Relay arrives in Mysore

The Queen's Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games arrived in Mysore from Kekkanahalli Check Post, Charamarajanagar on the Tamil Nadu/Karnataka border on Wednesday evening.

The QBR passed through Bandipur, Gundulpet, Nanjangud and finally arrived at Mysore, receiving a rousing welcome by the District Administration at the Mysore Palace Balarama gate.

The District In-charge Minister, Suresh Kumar received the QBR and balloons were let off in the sky to mark the occasion. The Queen's baton relay was first handed over by the District In-charge Minster to Olympian boxer and Arjuna Award winner C.C.Machaiah who ran 100m with the baton.

Cheering on

Thousands of school children cheered the QBR on the 5.2 km route. The Games mascot ‘Shera' was taken in an open jeep and was cheered by the public and the school-children throughout the route.

Well-known sportspersons like Seetharam (1982 Asian Games bronze medal winner in Marathon), Poojashree Venkatesh (Indian woman's tennis player), Girish A Koushik (former World U-10 chess champion), Boppanna (former Indian hockey player), Damodar Gowda, Somashekar, Sridevi, Nagendra Prasad (all Indian athletes), P.G. Chengappa (Badminton) Pappanna Narashima (Football), R. Nagaraj (Tennis), Srikanta Rao (Roller skating), Varsha S. Puranik (Roller Skating), M.S. Thejkumar (Chess), Aditya B. Sagar (Cricket), Lohit M. Urs (Motor racing) were amongst the runners.

The QBR will proceed to Bangalore on Thursday. Cultural programmes were held at the Mysore Palace entrance.

Delhi Games venues 'not yet certified'

India's failure to prove all Commonwealth Games venues and the athletes village are structurally sound and safe to use could jeopardise the event.
Just 14 days remain before athletes arrive in New Delhi but official reports of dodgy building practices and bogus building approvals still plague all 17 venues and other structures built for the Games.

Thousands of athletes from 71 commonwealth nations start to arrive from September 16 to take up residence in the village.

They will compete in New Delhi from October 3-14 but the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has yet to receive confirmation the village or any of the venues are safe.

"We are 14 days away from people arriving," CGF chief executive Mike Hooper told AAP from Delhi.

"Without a building completion certificate, you can't use the buildings. It's pretty simple - you can't use the venues."

In late July, India's anti-corruption watchdog dropped a bombshell by citing suspected dodgy building practices at a number of Games' venues and accusations that construction firms have inflated their costs.

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) inspected 15 roadway and sporting venues and found substandard concrete and steel works, and evidence that regulatory approvals had been forged.

"Clearly, we could see the alarm bells and question marks and that's why we've been pursuing this," Mr Hooper said.

The CGF responded, requiring the Indian government to provide building certificates by Aug 18 that confirm all of the venues are safe to operate.

India missed that deadline, promising it would provide all of the required documentation by Tuesday, August 31, but failed to do so.

Mr Hooper said he met with Organising Committee (OC) chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Wednesday and reiterated the importance of the CGF's request.

"After writing four or five times (to the OC), we're disappointed that we didn't receive it because that's what the government agencies gave a commitment to do," he said.

Mr Hooper said without the building certificates he is unable to allay any fears from countries participating in the Games.

"I think our members quite clearly want a reassurance that everything has met the proper building codes," he said.

"Can we show them that today? No."

Without the building certificates, the Games are in danger of not proceeding.

"Obviously, we can't have people using venues without appropriate clearances - fire, health, safety, etc," he said.

Perry Crosswhite, Australian Commonwealth Games Association (AGFA) chief executive, was awaiting word from Mr Hooper about building safety issue.

"That's an ongoing issue we've got," Mr Crosswhite told AAP.

"Knowing the Indians, they've probably got `em but they can't find them. Things always tend to be a little bit confused."

Mr Hooper said the Indian government expects to provide the requested documentation in several days.

Shah Rukh Khan may be asked to liven up Commonwealth Games

With Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman’s Commonwealth Games (CWG) theme song failing to create fervour like Shakira’s Fifa World Cup Waka Waka, a worried government is exploring if Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan can liven up the opening ceremony on October 3.

The internationally-acclaimed Rahman was expected to weave magic with the theme song, but it failed to take off and the empowered group of ministers (eGoM) is struggling to find ways and means to revive the Games spirit.

Khan has not yet been formally approached. But if he agrees to perform, dropping his shooting commitments abroad for Don-2, it will be a repeat of the Delhi Asian Games, 1982, when actor Amitabh Bachchan took the stage to sing Swagatam Shubha Swagatam.

Another name in the reckoning for the CWG opening ceremony is of actor Akshay Kumar.

Shyam Benegal, chairman of the three-member cultural committee which cleared the song, rejected criticism, saying: “Some Delhi MPs aged above 80 are not liking it. But this song is for young people.”

But he did not answer why committee co-member Javed Akhtar did not attend the meeting which cleared the theme song. The third member, Prasun Joshi, too, refused to answer the question.

It is learnt that the three differed on the quality and content of the theme song. Eyebrows were raised when the cost of the song came to Rs5.55 crore.

CWG's Organising Committee to ensure efficient cleaning and waste management

In a bid to facilitate smooth functioning of all the venues during 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi has made elaborate arrangements to ensure efficient Cleaning and Waste Management.

To ensure the primary collection of waste across venues, the OC has engaged three cleaning vendors-- ISS, Sarvatra and A2Z Maintenance & Engineering Services-- to deal with an estimated 1,63,200 kg. of waste per day.

These vendors have been entrusted with the responsibility at the total cost of Rs. 21 crore through a global open tender process. The contract is for the period from August 1 to October 30, 2010.

ISS has the mandate of cleaning of the Main Press Centre and International Broadcasting Centre at the ITPO, Pragati Maidan, while Sarvatra will be taking care of the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Aquatics Complex and the Talkatora Indoor Stadium. A2Z Maintenance & Engineering Services will be dealing with all other venues.

The service providers will arrange the requisite consumables and bins for primary collection and move them to the Waste Compound at each venue.

The municipal agencies, NDMC and MCD, are responsible for secondary collection from the Waste Compounds for disposal.

Eleven Waste Compounds have been identified at all venues with the association of NDMC, MCD and CRPF.

A total of 1100 waste bins have been provided by the municipal agencies. The waste will be divided into three categories - biodegradable, recyclable and sanitary waste. These will be collected in colour coded bins. Environment-friendly and World Health Organization approved chemicals are being used for disposal purposes.

Organising Committee has put in a team of 51 people to ensure world-class cleaning and waste management. Five of these people will be deployed at the OC headquarters and the rest at different venues, to ensure planning and coordination with the relevant civic agencies.

OC Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi is committed to provide international standard of cleaning at all venues.

P Chidambaram reviews CWG security

Home Minister P Chidambaram today reviewed the security measures for the Commonwealth Games starting October 3.

Top officials including Home Secretary G K Pillai, Delhi Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal and senior officials from Intelligence agencies and National Security Guards briefed him about the measures for the mega sporting event.

Dadwal is understood to have given a presentation on deployment of security personnel, traffic management and contingency plan for emergency.

A four-tier security apparatus with Army back-up will be put in place during the Games. However, so far there is no specific threat to the Games.

Over 10,000 athletes from 71 countries and 500,000 spectators are expected at the Games.

According to the security plan, athletes, officials and guests can visit the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium only by bus and no VIPs, except the heads of state, will be allowed to take their cars in. Parking arrangement has been made for 150 buses at the stadium.

Each of the 13 competition venues for the Commonwealth Games will have a tight security ring and special arrangements will be made to transport the athletes to and from the Games Village. Helicopters carrying commando snipers will keep an eye on the convoy.

This is aimed to prevent incidents like the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore in March 2009.

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

Besides, after the takeover of all venues and the Village, security agencies will start their work for erecting metal barriers, tyre busters, CCTV and metal detectors and conduct anti-sabotage drills.

"The security will be similar to that in Parliament," an official said.

Mock security drill will be held by security agencies and electronic bar codes will be provided to authorised cars and buses.

The security forces are likely to take over the venues from September 7, a week before the arrival of the first batch of athletes and officials.

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