Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Village kitchen ready to dish out delicacies

The Commonwealth Games venues may still be incomplete but athletes can at least be assured of a good meal during the XIX Commonwealth Games.

The organizing committee (OC) has finally managed to get Delaware North, caterers for the Games, to take charge of the Village kitchen.

With the soft launch of the Village scheduled for September 16, it has been a literal race against time to get the kitchen ready for Delaware to take over.

Now that the kitchen is operational , the Village is expected to become fully functional from the time of the soft launch, especially with around 700 foreign delegates from 71 countries scheduled to visit on September 15. The delegates from each participating Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) will stay at the Village and give feedback to their teams back home, said OC sources.

According to sources, the Village caterer had asked for a fortnight to set up their services , which at one point seemed doomed with last-minute constructions still on in the Village . However, after Delware took over the kitchen following a thorough inspection on Monday , Games operations finally began for the OC, said officials.
Jiji Thomson, special DG and in-charge of catering at the Games Village, said: ‘‘ The first meal will be served on September 16 at the Games Village as planned two years ago.”

The logistics are huge, as expected. From sourcing of food items to getting the kitchen equipment in place, it’s a long list. Interestingly, while certain raw items like mutton, chicken and fish are being sourced from India, a number of items are being specially flown in for the 8,000 athletes expected to participate in the Delhi Games 2010.

Ajay Grover, OCs consultant (catering), said: ‘‘ Since the Village will have multicuisines , specialized food items as well as chefs are being brought in for the purpose. While lamb is coming from New Zealand, bacon has been flown in from Holland and salmon from Norway. Condiments like peanut butter and maple syrup have been imported from Canada and elsewhere . Fruits such as peaches , apples, apricots and kiwis have also been flown in. With a new menu scheduled every day, the Village kitchen will be working round-the-clock , churning out 12,000 meals per service period.”

Grover said the menus have been created keeping in mind nutritional value and will be rotated on a six-day basis. Taj SATS is sourcing not only food items for Delaware but will also supply chefs, service personnel and kitchen/catering volunteers, said the organising committee officials. That's not all. Food safety checks will be done on the hour, every hour.

Around 65,000 litres of treated water will be used every day in the kitchen with even the floors being cleaned with potable water. This is to ensure that international standards are maintained, said Grover. Athletes are expected to start arriving from September 23, by which time the OC is hoping that the rest of the Village will also become fully operational.

International cuisines

Delaware North took over the kitchen on Monday

More than 1,200 employees will work in the kitchen, including

270 chefs from 6-8 specialists chefs from Malayasia and Africa

The supply chain is backed by Taj SATS, which will provide staff members and source food items like chicken, mutton, fish

Over 7tonne of mutton has already been shifted to the cold room in the kitchen. This will be marinated and put in deep freeze. Same will be done with other meat

800tonne of food will be cooked during the Games

13 tonne of raw rice consumed

Food (hot & cold) would be replenished according to the

food safety laws. For example, any baked item will have to be changed every 30mins

Menus will be offered on a 6-day menu cycle

Meat served will be Halal

Commonwealth Games given the green-light after all venues pass safety checks

Fears that some events at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi would have to be cancelled have been allayed after safety certificates for all venues were finally issued last night - less than four weeks before the start of the Games.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has today written to all countries competing in next month's event assuring them that all the documentation is now in place.

There had been safety concerns after a report in July by India's Central Vigilance Commission anti-corruption watchdog that there had been a number of suspect building practices used at Games' venues with substandard materials used.

CGF chief executive Mike Hooper said: 'We were very concerned because of what was in that the report which was why we needed those safety certificates to provide us with reassurances that the venues complied with all the requirements and were fit for purpose.

'I finally got the occupancy certificates, as they are called in India, for all the venues and Games Village from the organising committee last night and we can now focus with getting the overlay in place for the Games.'

Athletes are expected to start to arrive at the Games Village in New Delhi from September 20 ahead of the 12-day event which runs from October 3 to 14.

Games head says Delhi venues are safe

The head of the Commonwealth Games Federation says he can vouch for the security at sporting venues in New Delhi, but not for the rest of the city.

Less than a month out from the event, Mike Hooper has offered a vote of confidence in Indian authorities.

"In and around the venues - the games venues, the village - I'm confident they will be safe and secure," he said.

He also says he is encouraged by 15 test events in the last nine months that have been held without incident.

But Mr Hooper, who lives in New Delhi, adds this qualification:

"Obviously I can't speak for softer areas like downtown and all those sorts of things," he said.

Mr Hooper says he believes the presence of the security forces and police is adequate to provide a safe and secure environment.

"The presence of the security forces here, the Delhi police, the numbers, their plans etc, I think are adequate," he said.

The Australian Government has warned of a high risk of a terrorist attack in New Delhi.

Cops' vehicles to be taken away to escort Games' VIPs

Don't be surprised if you see men in khaki springing out of a vehicle that says 'All India Tourist Permit' at a crime scene instead of 'Delhi Police' once the Commonwealth Games begin. Or if your local SHO goes by in a private Indica, beacon light flashing. Because all the wheels of the Delhi  Police's middle level officers will be used as escorts for athletes and officials for the Games.

The Delhi government has asked all police officers from assistant commissioner of police (ACP) downwards to put their government vehicles on Games duty. This, because the state government hasn't been able to hire enough vehicles from private transporters.

Of the 2,000 vehicles to be used as security escorts and pilots, 400 will be the Delhi Police's distinctive white Maruti Gypsies and Chevrolet Taveras.

"These vehicles will add to those already sanctioned as convoy escorts and pilots," said a senior Delhi police officer requesting anonymity.

The officer also said that the officers have to give up their vehicles from September 16, when the first batch of foreign delegates arrives. To facilitate their patrolling and commute, each officer will be given an allowance of Rs 2,400 a day.

The officer said Delhi Police's PCR reserve might also be pressed into the security arrangement if required.

"The vehicles will be acquired as per requirement during the event. We will use the log-book system to compensate the private vehicle providers on the basis of the vehicle's daily usage," said Rajan Bhagat, spokesman, Delhi Police.

30 temporary stalls in Dilli Haat demolished

Inside Dilli Haat dancers from Manipur performed to the beat of traditional folk music before guests who gathered to mark the beginning of Delhi Celebrates a cultural extravaganza to mark the Commonwealth Games.

On a rainy evening, outside the cultural hub, Saroj Kumar Jha and other artists from Madhubani district in Bihar quietly packed their creative work into an autorickshaw. They are among those artists who were shocked to find their temporary stalls demolished at Dilli Haat on Tuesday morning. Nearly 30 stalls were demolished at Dilli Haat late in the night on Monday.

The launch of Delhi Celebrates with Manipur Day as the theme came under a cloud as rumours of a demolition to clear about 30 stalls in order to prepare the place for receiving visitors and tourists during the Commonwealth Games did the rounds.

The fact that the demolition happened late on Monday night was another issue that left many shocked and it is learnt from sources that while the action was taken on the directions of Delhi Tourism, a section of senior officials from other departments involved in the functioning of Dilli Haat were not happy with the sudden development.

These temporary stalls had been at Delhi Haat for nearly a decade, sources confirmed. They were located towards the end of the complex next to where the cultural programmes are organized.

Saroj Jha revealed that stalls are given to artists for 15 days. He along with other artists had come to Delhi in the hope of making some good money by selling Madhubani art creations at Dilli Haat.

According to Jha, Monday was their last day at the Haat. They would have in any case packed up and gone on Tuesday. But when they reached Dilli Haat on Tuesday morning from Palam area they were shocked to find the stalls demolished and their goods left on the spot. I did not lose anything but there were people who did suffer as some of their things did get destroyed, Jha added. All artists expressed their anger over the treatment metted out to them in the name of preparations for the Commonwealth Games.

DTTDC managing director Reena Ray said only those temporary structures which were encroaching upon green areas or were flouting safety norms were demolised.

No interference between Games baton relay and twin festivals

A route has finally been worked out for the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay and the Mumbai Police, who were once worried, now say it will not interfere with the simultaneous Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.

“The baton will come on September 10 at the Gateway of India. From there, it will go to Regal, Madam Cama Road, Godrej junction, Mantralaya, Air India junction, D Tata Road and NCPA. The baton will then go back to Air India junction, NS Road, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate station, High Court junction, Hutatma Chowk, MG Road, S D’Mello Road and back to the University. It is scheduled to reach the campus by 1 pm. After a lunch ceremony, the baton will be taken to Goregaon by 3 pm the same day along the Western Express Highway,” Dy CP (Traffic) Nandkumar Chaugule said.

On September 12, the baton will leave the city for Surat.

As the relay will reach Goregaon in the afternoon, there is no possibility of a clash with the Eid celebrations, Chaugule said. “As it is, our officials will be on the streets in order to deal with the Eid crowds since earlier in the day and we do not anticipate trouble,” he said.

On Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, he said, “The festival starts on September 11 when the idols will be installed. This will leave our officials free to take care of the traffic situation during Ganesh Chaturthi.”

The relay began from Buckingham Palace on October 29. Its route includes 170,000 km through 70 Commonwealth nations in 240 days, and 20,000 km across India’s state and UT capitals in 100 days. The 340-day total of 190,000 km makes the 2010 rally one of the longest in CWG history.

MCD’s 11th hour warning: Games Village site most vulnerable to dengue

Says it was poor judgement to build flats for athletes near Yamuna bed

Surrounded by the Yamuna on three sides, the Commonwealth Games Village is the most susceptible spot for the spread of dengue, according to officials of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, who now say the site was a “poor selection” for hosting athletes from 71 countries.

The government is now enlisting the support of military experts and doctors from the National Institute of Malaria Research and the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme to secure the site that contains flats for athletes besides training facilities.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Kiran Walia visited the Village accompanied by experts and representatives of the civic bodies to ascertain what can be done to reduce the malaria and dengue menace at the site. “Work is being done on a war footing in the area. We have increased the strength of fumigators and dengue breeding checkers at the site,” Walia said.

“The Games Village is a priority now. We have put staff in all venues and intensified operations, but this site is a trouble area,” said MCD health official Dr V K Monga. In fact, an MCD survey to map dengue hotspots has found that the Village was the most vulnerable. As the monsoon nears its end, water will begin to recede in the Yamuna, creating pools of stagnant water, perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, Dr Monga said.

Dr Monga said the authorities should have sought the opinion of the agencies and the health officials before they zeroed in on the site. But Walia was more guarded. “Maybe it was poor judgement to have the Games Village near the Yamuna, but now we can’t change that. What we can do is try to control the outbreak there,” she said.

The MCD doesn’t have the expertise to clean up the river bed that is at least 40 feet below the surface road,” Dr Monga said. “This is a fight against nature. We are trying to do whatever we can,” he said, adding that the MCD needed the coordination of all departments to fight the menace.

A Malaysian athlete, who was in the Capital in July to participate in the Asian All Star Athletic Meet, a test event for the Games held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, had been diagnosed with dengue. Later, the MCD and the health department traced the people she had met while on her tour, and the places she had stayed at, and carried on fumigation operations there, the officials said.

The civic body has come under fire from the government for not doing enough to control the outbreak. The agency said it hadn’t received the funds earmarked for the control of the vector-borne disease from the government. But Walia said she had released the funds on Tuesday after a meeting with Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad last week.

The MCD has now started spraying synthetic pyrethroids, potent lipophilic insecticides used for mosquito control in some South East Asian countries, at the CWG sites, as part of its intensified operations to control dengue. It will also be emptying the water trenches near the Yamuna bed, while Pest Control India officials will be in charge of fogging and spraying the residential areas inside the Village. A team has been called in to specially clean up the river bed, officials said.

1.7 million likely to watch the Games

The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee estimates 1.7 million spectators to throng the stadiums for the 12-day mega-event from October 3 to 14. And to ensure a smooth Games viewing experience for the spectators, 195 paid staff and over 2,000 volunteers will be deployed at the venues.

Volunteers will guide the spectators past ticketing gates and security checkpoints to the seating arena. Explaining why this could be an arduous task for spectators, the Organising Committee's Spectator Services head G.G. Dwivedi cited the example of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium which has 21 entry gates but only three gates -- 3, 9 and 14 -- dedicated to spectators.

“It could be a challenge for spectators to find the right stadium, event and entry gate at some sports complexes. Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium alone will have 44 paid staff and 700 volunteers,” Mr. Dwivedi said.

A spectator plaza will also be set up to hold an information booth and refreshment and merchandise stalls. No food or water bottles will be allowed inside the stadium. The list of items not allowed is on the back page of the ticket.

Lane restrictions from September 20

The lane restrictions for Commonwealth Games-related traffic will come into effect in the Capital from September 20. The traffic police will conduct a three-day trial run on certain stretches beginning Wednesday to familiarise road users with the arrangements.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Satyendra Garg on Tuesday said once the notification for exclusive lane came into operation, violation would attract a fine of Rs.2,000 and the violating vehicle would be impounded.

“People are advised to avoid the exclusive lane during the trials and familiarise themselves with the pattern of traffic movement during the Games. There will be enough signages indicating commencement of the dedicated stretches,” said Mr. Garg, adding that adequate number of traffic personnel would be deployed on the stretches during the trial run between noon and 2 p.m.

On Monday, the trial would be conducted on the lane from Commonwealth Games Village, National Highway-24, Road No.56 and Road No.58A up to Yamuna Sports Complex; Lodhi Road Madrassa to Lodhi Road flyover; Bhishm Pitamah Marg from T-point Lodhi Road and August Kranti Marg to Siri Fort Sports Complex; Ring Road from T-point Bhairon Road to Raj Ghat; and from Chandgi Ram Akhara to Maal Road on Ring Road.

Similar exercise would be undertaken on Thursday from Nizamuddin bridge, Ring Road and Captain Gaur Marg to Kalkaji Mandir; and from Sardar Patel Marg to Mother Teresa Crescent.

Mr. Garg said the trial run on Friday would be on the Road No.56 and Road No.58A to Yamuna Sports Complex; Kalkaji Mandir, Maa Anandmai Marg, Lal Kuan and other roads.

Despite cash crunch, unlimited budget' for festivals

Notwithstanding the municipal commissioner's proposal suggesting cuts in budget works with civic treasury facing cash crunch, Pune mayor Mohansingh Rajpal on Tuesday said that PMC had unlimited budget' for cultural festivals and events like the Queen's Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games (CWG).

The Queen's Baton Relay for the CWG will reach Pune on September 9 and the PMC has decided a grand welcome.

"The PMC has organised various cultural festivals and events to welcome the baton relay. Various sponsors have come forward to support us. There is no question of budget. We have unlimited budget for such events," said mayor Mohansingh Rajpal, speaking to reporters on Tuesday.

The Baton relay will arrive at Bharati Vidyapeeth at 3.30 pm on Thursday, and will travel from Swargate, Sarasbag, Vishrambagwada, Laxmi road, Alka talkies, Agriculture college, Pune University, Baner phata to Balewadi.

"The PMC appeals to citizens to participate in the event," said the mayor. A Congress leaders in the PMC claimed that MP Suresh Kalmadi will also be present on the occasion.

Meanwhile, the PMC standing committee on Tuesday approved Rs 25 lakh to celebrate cultural events for Shaniwar wada festival' during annual Ganesh festival starting this week end.

"The PMC will organise events in all parts of the city, so that citizens can enjoy the festival," said standing committee chairman Arvind Shinde, who added that the provision of Rs 25 lakh was made in the annual budget.

As per the BPMC Act, the state government had issued directions to municipal bodies that institutions should not be given donations exceeding Rs 3 lakh and the total annual civic donation amount should not exceed Rs 30 lakh.

However, the PMC had shelled out the massive amounts of Rs 51 lakh for the 83rd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan and Rs 30 lakh to celebrate Baisakhi. Meanwhile, only 60 per cent of budgetary works for 2009-10 have been completed due to a cash crunch.

Commonwealth chaos: Village flooded, Army called in

Just a week left for an international team to fly in for a final inspection and the Commonwealth Games Village still looks like an island in the Yamuna. Unable to drain the rainwater that has collected, which is breeding mosquitoes, a desperate Delhi government has decided to call in the

Delhi health minister Kiran Walia confirmed the army has been approached. A formal communication to the General Officer Commanding, Northern Command, will be sent soon.

"We approached the army because they are far better equipped to manage flood-like situations. Incessant rains have flooded most parts of the Village... The river has also been flowing above the danger mark. We have inspected the area with army officials,” Walia said.

The government had relied on the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to pump out the water but the only step the agency seems to have taken is to fine the Village several times for mosquito-breeding.

Walia has directed the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control to clean the Shakarpur drain, within a 2-km radius of the Village, as it is completely clogged and is stopping the rainwater from flowing out.

With dengue looming, Australia and Malaysia have issued advisories while 25 participating countries have written to the Organising Committee for information on measures taken.

Security agencies to take over CWG venues today

Delhi Police is likely to take over all Commonwealth Games venues on Tuesday and start plugging security loopholes, if any, to ensure an incident-free event which high on terror radar. Though there is no specific threat to Games but a general one, security establishment is leaving no stones unturned for the mega event which would showcase country's ability to hold such events.

Delhi Police, which is the nodal agency for Games security, will conduct various drills, including anti-sabotage checks once they take over possession of the venues, a senior police official said.

Apart from around 80,000 Delhi Police personnel, over 17,500 paramilitary personnel, 3,000 commandos and 100 anti-sabotage check teams will be deployed across the city. The Army has been asked to be alert.

Once security personnel take over the venues, the entire venue will be completely sanitised by security personnel and are sealed after a thorough check.

Concerns were earlier raised about the delay in handing over venues to security agencies as some quarters felt that it would hamper the security preparations.

Delhi Police Commissioner YS Dadwal, however, downplayed the delay and said the force was prepared to handle the security issues related to the sporting extravaganza.

"We know the stadia and surrounding areas. We know the city very well. So securing them or other areas will not be a problem," Dadwal had told PTI when asked whether the delay in completion of Games projects was compromising security preparedness.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram will review the arrangements on September 15, once the security overlays are put in place.

Heli-borne snipers, four-layered security cordon around Commonwealth Games venues and exclusive lanes for Games vehicles were among the components of the mammoth security plan for the event.

The security plan prepared for the mega event, which will see participation of around 8,500 athletes from 71 countries competing in 17 events, also envisages snipers on rooftops, commando hit teams and expert groups to tackle any chemical, biological, radio-active or nuclear attacks.

Air Force will provide surveillance from the skies. Heli-borne assault teams will also be deployed to thwart any terror strikes.

"We are closely working with central intelligence agencies. The Air Force will be surveying the airspace. We will have heli-borne snipers patrolling the skies," a senior police official said.

According to the plan, the venues, Games Village, practise and parking lots and Indira Gandhi International Airport where athletes arrive will have a four-layered security cordon

Delhi will be most happening place during Games: Dikshit

Seeking to allay apprehensions regarding the Commonwealth Games, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit Monday asserted that the event beginning Oct 3 "will be held" and urged people to take part in the cultural festivities taking place in the capital during the period.Launching the calender for the 'Delhi Celebrates' events, Dikshit said Delhi will be the most happening place for the next two months with hundreds of artists and performers descending onthe capital for taking part in the festivities till Nov 4. The Games themselves will be held Oct 3-14.

"The Commonwealth Games are here and it will be held," she told the gathering.

The chief minister said everyone had come together with enthusiasm, putting together a huge programme that will cater to tastes of all.

Underlining that the festivities will be held across the capital, she urged people to spread the message and enjoy themselves.

A host of programmes on art, culture, cinema, heritage and cuisines will be  eld in the capital till Nov 4 in which participants from across the country will throng the capital.

A number of special programmes have been planned for athletes and visitors during the Games.

Speaking at the event, Culture Secretary Jawahar Sarcar stated that the concept of 'Delhi Celebrates' has been woven into a noble matrix.

Given that bringing together 15 different cultural organisations under one roof was a herculean  task, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the culture ministry to work under Dikshit's leadership.

Sarcar also emphasised on organising such cultural festivals in the capital annually.

Students participating in C'Wealth Games function served stale food

Students from eight schools in Ghaziabad, participating in the opening ceremony of the upcoming Commonwealth Games, were served stale food during a practice session in the national capital.

"I was pained to know about the complaint that children were served poor quality food," principal DDPS Govindpuram, Richa Sood said.

Sood informed officials of the Commonwealth Games about the incident and asked them to improve the quality of food, warning the officials of not sending the children for the preparation otherwise.

Children from Sun valley school, Vaisahlli;Indus valley public school, Vasundhra; Swami Vivekanand Saraswati school, Rajender Nagar; DAV public school, Brij Vihar and DLF school Rajendre Nagar, among others are scheduled to present yoga and aerobics during the opening ceremony of the event.

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