Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Delhi Metro increases manpower for Games

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation(DMRC) is also gearing up for the upcoming Commonwealth Games and has increased manpower at stations to ensure smooth movement of commuters from October 3-14.

''Additional house keeping staff has been already deputed at all the important stations and additional queue managers will be put up at all stations leading to the Games' venues,'' a DMRC spokesperson said.

Besides, about 250 scouts and guides and 153 Bangalore Metro trainees will be deployed at various stations for crowd control and management. The DMRC spokesperson added, ''Volunteers of the Metro Citizens' Forum have also been instructed to be more vigilant and devote their time at the stations whenever possible.'' A Metro official of the grade of Assistant Station Manager will also be posted at the control room of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee for better liaison and coordination.

''Branding work related to the Commonwealth Games has been done at various stations, like Rajiv Chowk, Kashmere Gate, Vishvavidyalaya, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, and Jangpura,'' he added.

Further, additional ticket counters with pre-vended tokens have been set up at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and Jangpura Metro stations.

CWG art works to welcome commuters at Metro stations

Special artwork has been created by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on the Central Secretariat-Badarpur corridor to welcome visitors during the Commonwealth Games.

''We chose this corridor since Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the venue for the Games opening and closing ceremonies, falls on this line,'' a DMRC spokesperson said today.

The DMRC has decorated the Central Secretariat, Khan Market, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Jangpura Metro Stations with special mural paintings, drawings and ceramic artworks to give the stations a distinct look.

Specially designed tile artwork with three dimensional effect has been done on the walls of the concourse area at the Jawaharlal Nehru Metro Station and the theme of the tile artwork on the 163 metre-long concrete walls on both sides of the concourse has been derived from the various sports events that will be held during the Games.

These include gymnastics, swimming, wrestling and athletics among others. ''A harmonious colour scheme in beige, rust and deep red colour has been used for optimal effect. The artwork on these handmade ceramic mural art glazed tiles has been created by using water jet cutting technology wherein it is possible to cut very hard tiles too to create precise and fine patterns,'' the spokesperson added.

The CWG mascot Shera has also been prominently displayed for better visual effect and appeal.

Besides, 16 panels have been put on display at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Metro Station briefing the commuters and visitors about the genesis of the Delhi Metro, details about engineering feats like the construction of Moolchand Extra-dozed bridge, Metro milestones, unloading of coaches that were brought from abroad through special aircraft and others.

''At the Central Secretariat Metro Station, two thematic modern artworks titled 'You are Here' and illusion have been created at the concourse and platform levels of the station,'' he said. 'You are Here' takes inspiration from the Delhi Metro network map and interprets it in a futuristic manner using mirrors giving the viewer a feeling of being at various places all at once.

Delhiites keen on getting on with the Games now

After being put off by all the mess about the Commonwealth Games, Delhiites now seem to be getting into a 'lets do it' spirit with a whopping 74 per cent respondents expecting Delhi to be a better place to live after the Games.

The key findings culled out from the FICCI CWG survey conducted this month with support of Global Business Operations, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University, revealed that 69 per cent respondents believe the Games has catalysed the development of sports infrastructure in Delhi, which otherwise would not have happened.

Sixty one per cent respondents are of the firm view that CWG will lead to creation of job opportunities in the country. Most working professionals were confident that the event would boost industries like hospitality, tourism, sports goods manufacturers and infrastructure.

Almost 50 per cent of the people said they would go out and watch the Games but were not pleased with the marketing of the event.

Thirty one per cent believed CWG '10 will improve India's positioning as an international investment hub.

On how India will be remembered as a nation post CWG, 29 per cent of the respondents surveyed opined that India will earn the tag of being a good host.

Most of those surveyed held the view that Indian business houses should also contribute to the development of sports talent and sports industry in India.

In the analysis, Delhiites underlined the need to address corruption and unprofessionalism during sport selection; adequate job security to sportsperson; development of sports infrastructure should not be limited to metros and need for proper planning while organising such international events.

The survey drew responses from 321 people in Delhi-NCR region, of which 65 per cent were aged between 17-25 years and 35 per cent were working professionals comprising doctors, professors, state and central government employees, investors, businessmen and managers.

Wales arrive at CWG Village; first look makes an impression

Team Wales was all excited at its arrival at the Commonwealth Games village this evening, with school students putting up a colourful performance before them.

Team Official John Dallimore, who also heads the team of shooters, appreciated the good sites at the village. This was his third visit to Delhi and fifth official visit to India. There are 24 shooters in the Wales delegation.

He rubbished most of the negative reporting about the CWG 2010 by the Indian media and that back home as 'overhyped'. ''The information that has been coming out from our management has been positive and I am passing the same to my team. We are proud to be here,'' he said.

Mr Dallimore was also all kudos about the Indian shooters as he said his country was prepared, but felt India would be the best in the segment.

Talking about the facilities and arrangements at the Games village, he said the residential quarters were clean, spacious and very nice. ''We are happy with the facilities. Having visited six CWGs, I would have to say that this is the best,'' he told UNI post-welcome ceremony, while also appreciating the ambience at the Village. The chef de mission of Wales, Chris Jenkins, who had also visited Delhi earlier acknowledged the improvements made in the infrastructure and other amenities at the village and confessed ''now that the facilities have been upgraded, our focus has shifted to athletics''.

Mr Jenkins, however, emphasised that he would now like to see if the Organising Committee can maintain the improvements.

Pak Minister invited for CWG inauguration

India has formally invited Pakistan Sports Minister Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani along with those from other neighbouring countries, to attend the Commonwealth Games inaugural ceremony here on October 3, sources said here today.

However, it was not clear whether a formal invitation had been extended to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The sources, when asked whether Mr Qureshi had been invited, said he was ''welcome'' to come. The sources did not say whether a formal invitation had been extended to Mr Qureshi.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna also said in New York that Mr Qureshi was ''most welcome to witness some of the Games at least, and give us a chance to continue the dialogue.'' Asked whether any leaders from any other country had been invited, the sources said the Presidents of Maldives and Nauru and the Governor General of New Zealand had confirmed their participation.

Queen's Baton to enter Delhi tomorrow

The Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay will enter Delhi tomorrow from the neighbouring state Haryana after completing its 20,000 kilometers Indian journey.

The Baton passed through all 28 Indian states and seven union territories. It will reach the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee headquarters situated opposite Jantar Mantar on Jai Singh road in New Delhi in the afternoon, where it will be received by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi.

Several events have been planned during the display of the baton at the OC headquarters.

According to an elaborate display plan made for it, the Baton would set on a three-day city tour on Friday.

During its movement, the baton will pass through Vijay Chowk, India Gate, Teen Murti Bhawan, Qutub Minar and Lotus Temple and on Saturday, it will visit Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, St Columba's School and athletes' Games Village.

The 1.9 lakh-km-long QBR's journey across 71 countries will culminate on October 3 at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium before the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

Do your bit as patriotic Indians': CWG Village Mayor to media

With more and more participant countries complementing the Commonwealth Games village and feeling at home therein, the Mayor of the village, Retd Gen Dalbir Singh today asked the media to ''do patriotic reporting as true Indians''.

When told that the foreign delegates were quite satisfied with the Games village and the improvements made at the last stage, Gen Singh exclaimed ''that is what is the truth''.

Having had enough share of negative reporting about the loopholes at the Village, Gen Singh was in mood to set things right as he beamed in the appreciation received from at least 15 countries.

''We have received complements from at least 15 countries that they are extremely happy with everything at the Village,'' he told UNI. ''Continuos efforts from our side are also on. We have been asking the Joint Commissioner of Police to ask his personnel to be more courteous, helping and take care of basic manners as wearing gloves while frisking the guests,'' he informed.

With a Defence background, Gen Singh did not miss out on the opportunity to introduce himself as a true spirited Indian and likewise inculcate the very basic nationalistic nuances in the Indian media, when he said, ''I have a bullet in my thigh. But still I am working for my country. I am taking care of everything.'' ''You also as true Indians do your bit. At least you (the media) can report genuinely positive aspects, which is the only truth about the Village and the Games as of date,'' he added.

City ready to welcome CWG guests

With only a couple of days left for the grand start of Commonwealth Games (CWG), UT administration  is prepared to welcome the sports tourists. The administration and private operators in the hospitality sector have laid out lucrative discounts on room rents and menu. The tourism department has elaborated plans to hold regular cultural evenings at Sector-17 Piazza.

Talking to The Times of India, Chandigarh Hotels and Restaurants' Association secretary Gurwinder Juneja says at least 30 leading hotels and restaurants would offer up to 20% discount on room rents. 'Various food festivals featuring dum-pukht, lahori, Indian traditional delicacies and special ice-creams and dessert items would also be held,' he adds.

Besides, the department has invited renowned singers and artistes from across the country to perform regularly at Sukhna Lake and Piazza. CITCO general manager (tourism) AK Malhotra says Hotel Mountview, Shivalikview and Parkview would offer discount up to 20% on room rents and food items. 'We have printed attractive brochures of city tourist and heritage buildings for distribution among the visiting enthusiasts arriving by Shatabdi and airways,' he adds.

He further says they would beautify and illuminate the tourist attractions and heritage buildings to lend them aesthetic look during night. 'We have installed huge cut-outs of CWG mascot Shera at the Sukhna Lake. More would be set up at Sector 17 and other places.'

Besides, UT administration has also doled out short-term and two-day sight-seeing packages for Shimla, Kasauli, Fatehgarh Sahib, Amritsar and Wagah border. 'Short-duration trips would be organized for them to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of Nepli and Kansal forests here,' says another official.

Eco-friendly rickshaws emerge as OOH medium

Eco-Activate plans to increase the number of E-rickshaws to 40 in October. Each rickshaw has an ad-space of about 180 sq. ft.

'Green Delhi and Clean Delhi' has long been the motto of the Delhi government. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), along with Eco-Activate and Vodafone, has rolled out E-rickshaws - a much awaited, battery powered and eco-friendly mode of transportation.

E-rick, developed by Eco-Activate, offers a pollution free alternative mode of transportation in the national capital. Coming on the heels of the Commonwealth Games, these hybrid rickshaws have become an addition to the out of home (OOH) industry. Telecom service provider Vodafone is making an attempt, by associating with this project, to make a positive contribution towards conserving the environment.

The E-rick has a total advertising space of 180 sq. ft inside and outside and as part of the CSR initiative, the company has branded the entire fleet. "Partnering with this project is our way of making a positive contribution towards environment conservation," says Sanjay Warke, chief executive officer, Vodafone Essar Mobile Services, Delhi Circle. The branding on the vehicles has ensured enhanced visibility for Vodafone across the city.

Currently, there are about 25 such rickshaws running on five routes (five per route). These routes are Chandni Chowk, Vishwavidyalaya, Saket, Greater Kailash-II (GK-II) and Aurobindo Marg.

The routes have been identified keeping in mind commuter traffic across the city. "Areas such as Chandni Chowk are extremely congested and there is a need to provide alternate modes of transport," says Warke. They are also available in the North Campus area to facilitate students in and around the campus. Residential areas such as Saket and GK-II have E-rickshaws plying to ease traffic.

The company plans to increase the existing fleet to 40 vehicles in October and also plans to raise the fleet by 100 vehicles by the end of the year. The company has already tied up with MCD and is in an exclusive contract with it for 2000 vehicles.

It is also learnt that later, E-rick vehicles will run on routes such as Vikas Marg, Lajpat Nagar, Defence Colony, Janak Puri District Centre, Rajouri Garden, Karol Bagh and several other areas. These are expected to serve as the feeder service for the Delhi's Metro services.

Talking about the association with E-rick, Warke says, "It's the uniqueness of this initiative that influenced our decision to partner with Eco-Activate. The timing of the launch was apt, with the Commonwealth Games around the corner."

The vehicles also come with unique features such as GPRS devices that will ensure safety of passengers unfamiliar with the capital. Additionally, aspects such as drivers who speak English are bound to make travel more convenient for those not familiar with the local language.

Seating about two-three people, an E-rick ride in South Delhi area (Saket, GK-II and Aurobindo Marg) will cost Rs 15 per person per ride and in Vishwavidyalaya and Chandni Chowk, the charges are Rs 10 per person per ride.

Touted as the solution to Delhi's chronic traffic problem, E-rick is a hybrid service powered by batteries and aims to ensure reduction in carbon footprint with zero emissions. The battery needs 6 -8 hours of charging, after which it can power the rickshaw for 90 kms. The vehicle can cruise at a top speed of 25km/hour.

The production cost of an e-rickshaw is about Rs 1.75 lakh. The drivers for the E-rick are hired either through a manpower agency or are existing pedal pushers, who are paid minimum wages as applicable (about Rs 5000-6000 per month).

The safety measures taken to build the rickshaws make it not only safe for the environment but also for passengers. The rickshaws are made of Polyethylene - an elastic material which prevents overturning in case of collision.

Incidentally, E-rick fleets were present at a number of international events such as the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens; the Expo 2005 in Japan; and the 2006 Football World Championship in Germany.

Similar fleets were also used for very successful campaigns such as the Expo 2008 in Saragossa, Spain; the presidential elections in the US in 2008; and the Incredible India campaign in Japan (September 2008).

Thousands of Games volunteers quit: report

Indian press reports say up to 10,000 of the 22,000 Commonwealth Games volunteers have quit, just three days before the event starts.
The Times of India newspaper says volunteers have walked away because of poor training and motivation, unglamorous assignments, and random allocation of responsibilities.

Unnamed officials have told the paper that some volunteers have left without returning their free Games uniforms.

The situation has led to private parties having to step up their contribution to the volunteer efforts.

"We are doing all that has been asked of us," said Abhijit Sarkar, spokesperson for Sahara group, which has provided volunteers at Indira Gandhi airport and the athletes village.

An official associated with the volunteer program claimed that all of the volunteers had turned up at the athletes village, even though there have been complaints of no-shows.

The paper says there is now concern over how the event's logistics will be affected by the lack of volunteers.

Scottish team building and settling well at Delhi base

Home Nations athletes appeared to be putting concerns over their accommodation in the Games Village firmly behind them yesterday to focus on preparations for the Commonwealth Games which open in Delhi on Sunday.
The build-up of athletes from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is gathering pace and those who have already arrived seem satisfied with the village facilities.

Games organisers, responding to complaints that rooms in some of the accommodation blocks were dirty, have had up to 4,000 people working around the clock to get the accommodation ready as competitors from across the world arrive in Delhi.

The accommodation initially allocated to Team Scotland athletes was branded unfit for human habitation.

But Team Scotland head of media Katriona Bush said accommodation for the Scottish athletes was up to an "acceptable standard" and athletes were now able to concentrate on their preparations. "People are settled and happy. Our athletes have started training and getting focused on their events," she said. "However we are still concerned that facilities are up to standard in all the accommodation blocks. We are joining forces with other nations in an effort to ensure that it (accommodation) is the same for everyone."

A further 42 members of Team Scotland from lawn bowls, boxing, wrestling and rugby sevens arrived at the Games Village yesterday. That took the number of athletes already in Games Village accommodation to 161 out of an overall team of 191.

The group of 42 had originally been due to arrive last Thursday but were delayed because the Games Village rooms were not clean enough to move into at that point.

Freestyle wrestler Tracy Connell, one of the Scottish athletes affected by the delayed arrivals, said: "I'm really thrilled to finally be in Delhi and looking forward to getting started with training. We've explored some of the village and so far everything looks great."

Andrew Turnbull, of the Scotland rugby sevens squad, said: "We didn't come expecting five-star accommodation. Our apartments are really nice and the food is good so we have no complaints."

Beggars, homeless and Delhi's slums 'disappear'

TENS OF thousands of beggars, homeless people and daily wage earners have either fled India’s capital New Delhi or been hounded out of the city ahead of the troubled Commonwealth Games that open there on Sunday.

Armies of hawkers who for years have zig-zagged through the traffic selling magazines, mobile phone accessories, pens, balloons and even elaborate sculptures have disappeared overnight without explanation.

An unknown number of labourers, the majority without identification papers – only a tiny number of Indians have them – have been coerced by police and local officials into leaving Delhi or staying at home, under threat of arrest and imprisonment on a raft of nebulous Victorian-era charges such as vagrancy and loitering.

“I have been unemployed for the past month because of the games and opted to return to my village in Uttar Pradesh province, as there is a good chance I might be arrested even if I move around the city,” said Subhash Gupta, a painter and whitewasher.

The games have ensured that the poor get further trampled upon, he lamented, dismissing the event as a “curse”.

Mr Gupta also claimed that Indian Rail was “actively conniving” in this mass exodus from the city by turning a Nelson’s eye to ticketless travellers, an allegation that could not be confirmed.

Delhi’s more than 1.4 million homeless people have simply vanished, presenting an image of a prosperous city with no indigent underbelly to the visitors from 71 Commonwealth nations.

“If I was poor I would abuse the games,” said retired Maj Gen Sheru Thapliyal.

“I am not [poor] but I still find no merit in them and the chaotic and wasteful preparations that have gone into making them happen.”

Delhi’s slums, which comprise about 30 per cent of the city, have either been hidden behind massive hoardings announcing the games or ringed by hastily planted bushes, most of which were already wilting yesterday.

Open sewers alongside newly constructed roads and facilities for the games have been similarly disguised, but little has been done about the fetid odour they emit.

And a posse of urban cowboys have managed to rid the city, or at least the parts associated with the games, of hundreds of cows that routinely squat proprietorially on roads, causing traffic chaos and, often, accidents.

Over decades there was little effort to rid the city of the animals – as many were owned by professional wrestlers whom few wanted to tangle with – and because numerous neighbourhoods were content with the easy availability of cheap milk at their doorstep.

The capital’s well-heeled have opted to holiday abroad until the games end on October 14th, as all the city’s educational institutions will remain closed.

Severe traffic and security restrictions aimed at smoothing the movement of Commonwealth athletes and officials will ensure attendance at most workplaces remains low during the sporting event, making it the ideal opportunity for a holiday.

Billed as an economically resurgent India’s coming out party, the Games’ organisers – beset by problems such as security, unfinished stadia and unhygienic and shoddy accommodation for athletes – are bent on presenting a rosy, but unreal portrayal of Delhi.

“The games were meant to be a participatory event for the city, one to be enjoyed,” said university lecturer Neelkamal Puri. Instead, they had ended up being antagonistic, restrictive and anything but fun, she added.

Cops crack the whip, fine 400 lane violators

As the Commonwealth Games  draws closer, the traffic police have cracked the whip on those entering dedicated Games lanes. Over 400 motorists were issued challans on Wednesday. This is more than double the daily average so far since the new provision for a Rs 2,000 fine was implemented. The dedicated lanes, meanwhile, continued to cause congestion on arterial roads forcing several office-goers to stagger their work hours.

The situation will remain similar on Thursday, as the routes connecting six key venues — Games Village, Games hotels in Chanakyapuri, JLN Stadium, IG Stadium, Major Dhyanchand Stadium and IGI airport — will remain out of bounds from 8am to 8pm. Roads leading to some other venues including Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, RK Khanna and Thyagaraj Stadium were also blocked for brief durations during the day to facilitate movement of athletes.

The roadblocks led to jams on several stretches, including Mathura Road, Ring Road, DND, Kamal Attaturk Marg, SP Marg, Africa Avenue Marg and Lodhi Road. ''I was stuck on the DND toll road for more than 40 minutes because of a major jam at Ashram. I have requested my office for flexible work hours now and plan to avoid the peak hours by reaching work by 8am and returning before 6pm,'' said Pulkit Singhal, a resident of South Extension.

The traffic police said that with over 1,000 more athletes having arrived in the city on Wednesday, the intensity of movement of Games traffic has increased. This has made it more important to ensure that the Games Lane is clear at all times. ''Overall, the compliance with Games Lanes has been credible for Delhiites. There is discomfort but people have been cooperating with the restrictions imposed. But with the number of athletes and movements increasing, it is important to ensure discipline on the roads and keep the passage clear for Games traffic,'' said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

Meanwhile, a 42-year-old pedestrian, a labourer, was injured when a Commonwealth Games car hit him on the dedicated Games lane in the Dhaula Kuan on Wednesday morning.

1500 volunteers to help police manage traffic

In what could be seen as an attempt by Delhiites to come forward and show their enthusiasm for the Commonwealth Games, 1500 volunteers will help the Delhi Traffic Police  regulate traffic from October 1 till the Games end. These volunteers, trained by Delhi Traffic Police, will be distinctly dressed in T-shirts, caps, and reflective jackets and will be seen all over the city at various road junctions. Of these, 600 volunteers are from Nirankari Mandal.

The volunteers, who came from different backgrounds and comprise mostly youngsters, responded to Delhi Traffic Police's call for volunteers mainly through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. ''A friend and I decided to volunteer together. We want to stay true to Indian tradition of 'athithi devo bhava'. This is our time to make India shine,'' claimed 21-year-old BBA student Nishant Bhardwaj.

Some of them were homemakers or with private jobs who had taken time off to extend their services. But what was uniform was the palpable excitement in the volunteers for playing a part in the Games. ''This is a great opportunity for India and we are doing this out of commitment to social work. Though the Games have been riddled with problems, we need to think positive and make it a success,'' claimed Vaibhav Sharma, a first-year MBA student and a volunteer.

These volunteers have been through three briefing sessions by the traffic police where they were trained in rules and regulations, the dedicated lane traffic rules as well as the different categories of vehicles of players, media, dignitaries as well as other vehicles that will be plying in the blue lanes. They have also been taught to direct traffic during emergency situations like when there is a glitch in the traffic lights or there is heavy traffic flow.

Cops hasten setting up of card readers

To expedite the process of installing accreditation card readers at all the entry gates to the Commonwealth Games venues, a team of Delhi  Police officers visited the OC office inside the Village late on Tuesday night to collect data of all the people who have been given accreditation cards. The data is being given to ECIL so that it could be fed into card readers that will monitor entry and exit of people.

The move came a day after TOI reported that card readers have not been installed at entry and exit points of venues, as granting access without them may pose a security threat.

Union home minister P Chidambaram during his visit to the police headquarters on Tuesday also raised the issue and asked ECIL and Delhi Police to fix the problem.

ECIL officials said feeding the data into the card readers within three days was an uphill task. "In case the project is not completed, we may install the card readers only at certain strategic locations. Other places will have CCTV cameras and entry will be allowed through manual verification," said an ECIL officer.

Gurgaon catches Games fever as baton arrives

The Queen's Baton for the Commonwealth Games 2010 reached the Millennium City on Wednesday amidst great pomp and show. Deputy commissioner R K Kataria received the baton after it crossed the Jhajjar-Gurgaon border near Farrukhnagar.

The baton was then carried in an open vehicle to Gurgaon's Nehru Stadium where it was welcomed by schoolchildren and villagers who stood guard holding the Tricolour. The DC handed it over to finance minister, Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, minister of state for agriculture and cooperatives, Sukhbir Singh Kataria, and Haryana director general of police, Ranjeev Dalal.

Kataria said the state government announced cash prizes of Rs 15 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 5 lakh for Haryana players who win gold, silver and bronze medals at the upcoming Games. Several Arjuna awardees, Bhim awardees and Dronacharya awardees were present at the function at Nehru Stadium.

Arjun awardee, athlete Bhim Singh said, ''The arrival of the baton has filled us with enthusiasm. Sportspersons from Haryana will win lots of medals for India. I expect at least 50 medals from team India.'' Bhim awardee, gymnast Poonam Chabra said, ''I feel honoured to be part of the Baton Relay. I wish the Indian team good luck and I am sure they will make us proud.''

After halting at Nehru Stadium, the Baton headed to Tau Devi Lal Stadium before reaching Dhanchiri Camp at Delhi-Gurgaon toll plaza, where a colourful cultural programme was organized in the evening.

Lt General Raj Kadian, head of the Baton Relay Run in India, said the 100-day journey of the Baton in India was nearing completion. Kadian said the message of Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth of Nations, scribbled on the baton had not been read by anyone till now as it was covered with an 18-carat gold leaf. It will be unveiled and read out to sportspersons during the Games opening ceremony.

The baton will be handed over to the Delhi government on Thursday as it completes the last leg of the relay.

Race against time to fix scoring gear

It's a race against time for the Commonwealth Games  organising committee (OC) and Swiss Timing, the international firm chosen to install the timing scoring result (TSR). The deadline for TSR installation is Friday and sources said most venues are yet to get the required equipment.
The TSR, incidentally, is the single most important equipment for the Commonwealth Games as it's crucial in computing event results. The system includes the On Venue Result (OVR) system and the Games Time Sports Equipment.

Compounding the problem is the tight security at the venues, said the sources. ''Equipment for installation of the system has to be sent to the venues across the city. But security is so tight that getting access to the venues is a major problem. Many people working on the project have not got the required accreditation,'' they said.

Shortage of vehicles with venue access permits (VAPs) has only added to the delay, said officials. The police are only allowing vehicles with VAPs to enter the venues. The TSR installation team is apparently scrambling to resolve the problem.

For the TSR to work effectively, a whole range of sports equipment like photo finish cameras, swimming touch pads, therma sensors, scoreboards etc needs to be set up.

The TSR system was to be commissioned in the last week of September. Games officials had then claimed that the late date of commissioning was not a problem, especially as it had cut down on the rental that the OC was paying for the use of the TSR. The argument given was that commissioning the TSR would take only a few days as it required little testing. The OC had instead set up test labs to simulate Games-time situation.

Interestingly, TSR installation was delayed as some of the equipment were used in the Youth Olympics in Singapore and could be made available only after August-end.

The OC had received additional funds of Rs 687.06 crore specifically for the overlays from the government with the rider that the TSR should be operational one month before the Games.

Can’t shut eye to rampant corruption: SC on CWG

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Commonwealth Games project has bred corruption and is meant for public purpose only till October 14 — the closing day of the Games — after which “everything” will be used for “private purpose”.

“Till October 14, Commonwealth is a public purpose — thereafter, everything will become private purpose,” a Bench of Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly observed.

Declaring that it would not shut its eyes on the “rampant corruption”, the court criticised the government on its preparations for the international sporting event.

The court cited the recent collapse of the new foot-overbridge near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium like a “pack of cards” as an example of the quality of the infrastructure work done for the Games.

“In this country, payments are made without work being done. The newly constructed bridge collapsed like a pack of cards,” the Bench said. “Rs 70,000 crore is involved. There is rampant corruption. We cannot shut our eyes,” the court said.

The oral observations were made during the hearing of a case filed by the Archeological Survey of India, highlighting government lapse in permitting certain buildings to exist near Jantar Mantar against ASI’s monument conservation laws.

Semenya out of Commonwealth Games, Ticket Sales Poor, by Alfons Juck, Note by Larry Eder

The Commonwealth Games  has a long and storied past. The matches in athletics alone have been amazing. The 2010 version, which opens this weekend, is having both media  and security problems. Neither of those have helped ticket sales, which are at a paltry 200,000 out of an estimated 1.7 million tickets available.Security concerns have kept many athletes away. While UK athletics and many other teams have kept a stiff upper lip, elite athletes have several concerns: security issues, the absolute exhaustion many face at the end of a ten month season, and how to prepare for 2011-2012.India has huge potential in the global sporting world. They have had some outstanding athletes in track & field, and I believe we will see many more to come. They apparently understand cricket there as well, which, I assume, like American baseball, is a wonderful excuse to watch a sporting event while consuming adult beverages in a warm climate.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games are not getting a break now. Caster Semenya, the World Champion from South Africa, has pulled out of the Games. Citing a continuing back injury, her team SA announced her withdrawal earlier today.

EME NEWS (SEP 29, 2010)

Semenya out, Mokoena still possible
JOHANNESBURG (RSA): South African media are confirming the bad news. 800 m world champion Caster Semenya will not compete in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. The South African team management said they would not risk the health of Semenya, who has apparently been suffering with the ailment for some time now, and had taken the decision in the interests of the athlete. Semenya had reportedly been struggling with a lower-back problem, but a scan done showed the injury was more serious than first thought. Final decision of former World indoor champion in long jump Khotso Mokoena is expected in few days time.

Tamgho is the male Rising Star
LAUSANNE (SUI): World indoor record holder in triple jump with 17.90 French Teddy Tamgho is the 2010 winner of the men's European Athletics Rising Star of the Year Award presented by MONDO. He is succeeding his countryman sprinter Christoph Lemaitre who won this trophy a year ago. The Frenchman became the third longest jumper in history after breaking his national record with a 17.98 effort at the New York Diamond League meeting on 12 June. Only world record holder Jonathan Edwards (18.29) of Great Britain and Kenny Harrison (18.09) of the USA have jumped farther than the 21-year-old. Although he could only finish a frustrating third at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona Tamgho has been the triple jump sensation of the year. Writes European Athletics. He is also Samsung Diamond Race winner. Second place for Spanish long jumper and multi-talented Eusebio Caceres ahead of Poland´s shot put Youth Olympic Games winner Krzysztof Brzozowski.

Mbango must wait
MONTE CARLO (MON): IAAF approved four top athletes nationality switches. US Hurdler Tiffany Ofili can represent Great Britain from September 5 this year. Former track runner Michael Aish is now marathon runner and is switching from New Zealand to USA from July 22 in 2011. Olympic triple jump winner 2004 and 2008 Francoise Mbango will be able to represent France (formerly Cameroon) only from April 23 in 2013. That means no Daegu or London for France. Poland´s walker Sylwia Korzeniowska (sister of famous Robert Korzeniowski) is in similar position and able to represent France from June 1, 2013.

Icelandic talent with Swedish coach
REYKJAVIK (ISL): Respected Swedish coach Agne Bergvall (coaches also Carolina Kluft) signed the Icelandic talent Helga Margrét Thorsteinsdottir to be her coach. Helga was the fisrt Icelandic youngster in history to get a medal at the WJC in Canada this summer when she got a bronze in the heptathlon. Agne will be her main coach but to begin with she will continue to live in Iceland as she is still in school for one more year. During that time her first coach Gudmundur Hólmar Jónsson will carry on the daily training. Vesteinn Hafsteinsson will be her manager (in his group for example discus olympic winner Gerd Kanter) and will as well coordinate the work with Agne and her club at home. Thorsteinsdottir scored this year 5878 points in heptathlon what is also national senior record.

Heltne gets two years
MONTE CARLO (MON): Two new interesting doping cases from IAAF. Romanian shot putter Anca Heltne was positive at National Indoor Championships on February 27 and is banned for two years until March 31, 2012. She will lost bronze medal from European Cup Winter Throwing in France (promotion for Russian Anna Omarova from fourth to third) and also 7th place from World Indoor Championships in Doha. Talented US 400 m runner Michael Berry was initially banned for 3 months for cannabis during US Junior Championships on June 26. This was later reduced to time served upon the successfull completion of USADA educational program. That allowed him still to compete at World Junior Championships in Moncton in the winning US 4x400 m team. Later on August 1 he clocked his PB 46.13 while winning the US Junior Olympics in Sacramento.


SOFIA (BUL): Pity in Bulgaria. Seven meters are missing in the new multisports hall in Sofia to be able to have a track. National Department of Physical Education and Sports is still considering options, it is not a financial question, Bulgarian media are writing. The situation in Sofia in regard to indoor training and competitions is not good. The classic Festivalna Hall is under reconstruction which is not finished yet and is missing financial backing.

LEXINGTON (USA): World´s fastest 100 m runner in 2010 Tyson Gay writes on his twitter that another top US sprinter Travis Padgett is coming to Florida to train with his group. Padgett has a 9.89 best from 2008 and clocked in 2010 as fastest 10.10. He has two sub 10 legal times in his record.

LONDON (GBR):  David Higgins has resigned as the chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to take up the same role at Network Rail, writes insidethegames. Higgins, former chief executive of construction firm Lend Lease and English Partnerships, will succeed Iain Coucher. The ODA's director of finance Dennis Hone will replace Higgins, who will stay on in his post until February 1, 2011. "It has been a privilege to lead the ODA over the last five years and I am leaving with the Olympic Park on time, within budget and with the finish line in sight," said Higgins, who earns £394,999 per year.

NEW DELHI (IND):  Manish Kumar, head of press operations for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, has been sacked following a series of rows regarding the distribution of media accreditation passes. Insidethegames informs. Kumar, who is also a deputy director general of the Organising Committee, was handpicked from the private sector to work for the organising committee by Chairman Suresh Kalmadi. He has been replaced as head of press operations by Manjushree Roy who has been transferred around the Organising Committee five times in the past year.

CHICAGO (USA): American marathon hope Ryan Hall has withdrawn from the Chicago Marathon on October 10th. Hall was aiming at breaking the American record during his Chicago run but doesn't feel ready after a disappointing run in September at the Philadelphia Half Marathon  and some poor workouts in the last couple of weeks.

MOSCOW (RUS): In an interview with Reuters Sergey Bubka confirmed he is sure Yelena Isinbayeva will return to top form rapidly during the indoor season and will again dominate her event. Isinbayeva took an indefinite break earlier this year, a decision Bubka backed. "She will be back at her best, I don't see any problems or any obstacles. She competed for so many years, she is very professional, very committed." Bubka was quoted. Isinbayeva will return to competition in February 2011.

NEW DELHI (IND): The Indian Tourism Minister Kumari Selja has blamed the negative media coverage around the Commonwealth Games for the disastrous ticket sales. According to Insidethegames only 200,000 tickets of the 1.7 million have been sold so far, only achieving 10% of the revenue target from ticket sales. Hockey, one of India's most popular sports, has received 30% of all sales.

LONDON (GBR): Lord Sebastian Coe has dismissed claims that the London 2012 organizing committee has decided to finish the Olympic marathon in front of Buckingham palace instead of in the main stadium. The Olympic stadium is located in Stratford and it is claimed the organizing committee is embarrassed to show the area and its people. Traditionally the Olympic Marathon has its finish in the Olympic Stadium writes insidethegames.

MONTE CARLO (MON): IAAF received the news of the death of Khalid Abdullah Al Meer, a member of the IAAF Competition Commission and a former Vice President of Qatar Association of Athletics Federation (QAAF). Khalid Abdullah Al Meer, 55, of Doha, Qatar, died on Monday, 27 September. He leaves behind his beloved wife and 4 children. He will be laid to rest at the Abu Hamour burial ground, Doha. Throughout his life, Al Meer was actively involved in sports activities in general and Athletics in particular and held various positions during his 20 year career with the Qatar Athletic Federation. He retired from the federation in the year 2008, after serving as Vice President since 1996. He was Competition Director of the Doha IAAF Grand Prix from 1997 to 2008.

FRANKFURT (GER): One of top German sprinters Marion Wagner decided to continue in her career. The 32 years old Wagner was after Barcelona considering to end it. The main issue was her health situation which is now improved. For indoors she wants to help her team in relay and in the 200 m.

CHULA VISTA (USA): Retired legendary US pole vaulter Stacy Dragila two months ago became a mother, to daughter Allyx Josephine Waltz (father Ian Waltz is one of US top discus throwers).  "I have waited so long to experience that and it's a dream come true," Dragila said as per teamusa website. These days, she also spends a lot of time giving back to the sport. Last fall, Dragila and Waltz started the Altius Track Crew. She teaches kids everything they need to know about pole vaulting. And with the help of UCS Spirit, she is able to provide the kids with poles that fit them that their schools might not have. The first camp consisted of 40 high school kids, her goal is to grow it to 75 - 100 kids.

DALLAS (USA):  Michael Johnson Performance announced it has been named the Official Training Partner of the Dallas Cowboys. Through this unique partnership, Dallas Cowboys players and training staff will leverage the proprietary training programs and technology offered by Michael Johnson Performance (MJP). Informs Michael Johnson website.

MOSCOW (RUS): Russian running family is celebrating. Yelena Sidorchenkova (world class steeple runner) gave birth to a boy (3.4 kg, 51 cm). Father is multiple national champion Aleksandr Orlov.

SAN JOSE (USA): Olympic marathon medalist Meb Keflezighi will defend Rock 'n' Roll San Jose half marathon title at the fifth staging of the race on Sunday. Keflezighi is one of the top names in a field of more than 13,000 runners over a course which is recognised as the fastest in California and where he won in one hour ane exactly one minute a year ago.


PARIS (FRA, Sep 26): French in-shape Abdellatif Meftah won the 33rd edition of Paris-Versailles road race at 16.3 km after 48:40. Kenyan Miriam Wangari won the women category in 56:06. Informs RRW.

CAPE TOWN (RSA, Sep 26): South African marathon record holder Gert Thys (38) competed in his first marathon since his doping suspension ended (December 2008). He won the Cape Town Marathon in 2:22:12. His national mark from Tokyo 1999 is 2:06:33.

TATABANYA (HUN, Sep 25-26): Young Hungarian Bence Pasztor is confiming his throwing talent. The 15 years old athlete won three events at National U16 Championships. Shot put (4kg) with 18.53 what is national best, discus (1 kg) 56.56 and hammer (4 kg) 80.27 m.

KAARIKU (EST, Sep 25): Interesting experiment by Esthonian decathlete Anders Raja. He competed in heptathlon in women events with women heights and implements. He scored 7342 points after 12.7 at 100 m hurdles, 195 in high jump, 17.42 in shot put, 23.6 at 200 m followed by 679 in long jump, 53.48 with javelin and 2:08.4 in the 800 m. World record of JJK is 7291 points, Raja´s decathlon best is 8119 from Berlin World Championships.


LUKOVIT (BUL): Clarification to Bulgarian Athletics Federation elections. 76 out of 102 clubs were present. And all voted unanimously for Dobromir Karama

PC ticks off Kalmadi for CWG delays

In a veiled reference to the unfinished works at the Commonwealth Games venues, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said the fact that some of the works to be done by other agencies had not been done had put an “extra burden” upon the security system.
“I am satisfied with the security arrangements we have put in place but not yet satisfied whether what others had to do has been done. Therefore it puts an extra burden upon the security system. We are trying to sort out those issues by today,” he said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi met Chidambaram on Wednesday evening. According to the sources, Kalmadi was pulled up by the Home Minister for the delays in handing over the Games venues to the security agencies. He was also told off with regard to the prevailing confusion over the issuing of accreditation cards and vehicle passes.

When asked to elaborate his remarks, Chidambaram said, “What is the point of elaborating? All of you know what has been done and has not been done. All I can say at this time is... keep your chin up and try to do the best so that fullproof security is provided. I can assure you that notwithstanding the difficulties, we will provide fullproof security at the Games venues and the Village.”

On whether there are any “credible threat” to the Games, the Home Minister said, “Credible and not credible are judgments. There have been statements which have come to our notice. But we take every piece of information seriously and have put counter measures in place. It would be wrong to say that there is credible threat.”

Chidambaram said that he had visited three Games venues — Siri Fort auditorium, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Pool Complex and Talkatora stadium. Asked whether he was satisfied with the security arrangments, he said, “I am never satisfied. Things can always be better.”

Girls lured to Delhi Games for work being sold to brothels

UNDER-aged girls are being lured to Delhi for work at the Commonwealth Games, only to be sold into prostitution.

The Indian Government has issued an alert, after receiving numerous reports that girls from the country's poor tribal states are being exploited by sex-traffickers.

The advisory by India's Home Ministry, obtained by The Australian, says: "The victims are mostly those who are promised work in Delhi ahead of the Commonwealth Games by fraudulent placement agencies but instead are likely to be trafficked.

"Minor girls are the main target. Strict action is urgently required against those involved in such trafficking, both in the source, transit and destination areas."

Hundreds of young girls from poverty-stricken rural states are believed to have been successfully trafficked into the city's burgeoning number of brothels, massage parlours and escort agencies.

Kailash Pathak, from rural West Bengal, fears his 13-year-old daughter, Khushbu, is among them.

The Australian accompanied Mr Pathak this week as he searched seedy Delhi's red-light-district for any sign of her.

He said he had tracked down a man he claims stole his daughter and reported him to police. "I rang him and said, 'Have you taken my girl?' And he said, 'What if I have? What can you do about it?'"

The man, Pappu Bagel, confessed to The Australian from a police cell that he led Khushbu away from her home but denied it had been against her will.

Delhi's illegal but thriving prostitution racket has been gearing up for several months for the Commonwealth Games.

Several establishments have reportedly been running basic English classes for their workers and renovating premises for foreign visitors.

Inside one brothel, The Australian saw a large flat-screen television fitted to the wall.

"It's so we can watch the Commonwealth Games," a middle-aged female worker explained as two men worked on renovations in one of the adjacent tiled and toilet-sized rooms in which women ply their trade.

The woman said she had no under-aged workers in the brothel and did not tolerate traffickers peddling young girls.

Outside another nearby brothel, where a 16-year-old girl trafficked from Nepal was rescued by police just two days earlier, The Australian counted more than 100 men in the space of just 10 minutes descending the dingy, narrow stairs in packs of 20 or more.

Delhi police have raided a number of brothels in the city's red-light district in recent weeks.

A police superintendent from one inner-city district said about 80 young girls had been seized from brothels and traffickers in the past six months.

Nishi Kant, from Delhi-based anti-trafficking network Shakhti Vahini, said his organisation had rescued 54 under-aged girls from the red-light district and the nearby New Delhi railway station in the past six weeks.

"The traffickers tell the girls and their families that they can get them good jobs in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games, but once they land here they're trafficked to various suburbs of Delhi and forced into prostitution," he said.

"The Commonwealth Games has become a disaster in the context of child-trafficking because we're seeing a clear rise in the number of cases."

Metro steps to tackle Games rush

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has taken a host of measures to provide easy access and comfortable travelling to commuters during the Commonwealth Games.

According to DMRC officials, about 250 scouts and guides and 153 Bangalore Metro trainees will be deployed at various stations for crowd control and management. This will be in addition to the volunteers of the Metro Citizens' Forum who have been instructed to be more vigilant and devote their time at the stations whenever possible.

An assistant station manager will be posted at the control room of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee for better liaison and coordination.

“Additional house keeping staff has been already deputed at all the important stations. More ticket counters with pre-vended tokens have been set up at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Jangpura metro stations and additional queue managers will be put up at all the stations leading to the Games venues to ensure smooth movement of commuters,” said a DMRC spokesperson.

Strict security arrangements for CWG: Gill

Even as Australia issued a fresh travel advisory regarding India, Sports Minister M.S. Gill Wednesday said strict security arrangements have been made for the Commonwealth Games and there is nothing to worry.

"There are foolproof security arrangements for the Games and there is nothing to worry about," Gill told IANS.

When asked about the fresh Australian advisory, Gill said: "I have spoken to the Scottish minister, Canadian minister and the Australian minister and all of them are satisfied with the security arrangements."

"In fact, I have been told by some of the foreign delegates that they faced problems because of stringent security arrangements at the Games Village and venues," he added.

Australia's fresh terror alert advises its nationals to avoid some parts of the country and leading tourist spots including the Red Fort and Baha'i temple in New Delhi.

In its updated advisory, while Jammu and Kashmir has a "do not travel" warning, the northeastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur have been clubbed under the "reconsider your need to travel" category.

The department of foreign affairs and trade website said: "Terrorists may also be planning attacks against Indian political and security interests. We also continue to receive reports about possible terrorist attacks in markets frequented by foreigners in New Delhi."

"India's Supreme Court as well as the famed Lotus temple are all subject to possible terror attacks. The Indian parliament and Red Fort are also on the list of places that could be terror targets along with hotels in New Delhi and Mumbai," it said.

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