Sunday, 30 May 2010

Queen Elizabeth II not to attend Commonwealth Games

Buckingham Palace has informed that Queen Elizabeth II will not attend the Commonwealth Games in India in October.

It will be the first time in 44 years that she will not be at the sporting event. Previously she has attended at some point during the games, either for the opening or closing ceremony.

Queen Elizabeth II will miss the Commonwealth Games owing to "heavy workload", leaving it to Prince Charles to represent the British Royal family in Delhi this October. He will be in India and will read out a message of support from the Monarch to the athletes.

Buckingham Palace said the Queen would not be able to attend because of the volume of her engagements this autumn.

A spokesman said he could not yet give details of the events that would prevent the Queen from attending the games.

Some 71 nations are expected to take part in the Commonwealth Games, which open on 3 October.

It will be the biggest multi-sport event in India since the Asian Games in 1982.

Air New Zealand ends relationship with NZOC

Close on the heels of Australia loosing sponsorship from Telstra, Air New Zealand dropped its sponsorship as official travel provider for the New Zealand Olympic Committee, arguing that the economics did not stack up.

Withdrawl of sponsorships from 2 major Commonwealth sporting nations indicate a troubled financial world still feeling uncertain about the future.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines is set to fly the New Zealand team to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi this year. This will bring and end to the relationship held by Air New Zealand since the athletes last travelled by ship.

Delhi will be the first games since the 1952 Helsinki Olympics that Air New Zealand has not been the official travel provider for an Olympics or Commonwealth games.

Air New Zealand deputy chief executive Norm Thompson said that although, in an ideal world, the airline would fly the New Zealand team, the company had made a commercial decision.

"We're a commercial organisation, we've got a responsibility to our shareholders. Admittedly, the largest shareholder is the Government, but we've got 25,000 other shareholders that we're responsible to as well, and if we don't see any commercial value in doing something, then we will generally not do it."

Terry Daly, the NZOC's commercial director said he understood Air New Zealand's rationale in light of the global financial crisis and troubles in the aviation industry.

Despite its official standing, the NZOC gets only about 5 per cent of its funding from the Government, with the rest needed from a variety of sponsors.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Shera mingles with DU aspirants

Shera, the mascot of the Commonwealth Games 2010, met Delhi University aspirants on Friday. With admissions process for various courses of Delhi University starting, Shera was there on the spot cheering students and visitors.

The mascot attracted the attention of all visitors to the university, a majority them students who were appearing for admission tests and are applying for various courses

"The Commonwealth Games is taking place in our Delhi. So we are very happy, about this. It is good to see that Shera is publicising the Commonwealth Games," said Rahul Chaudhary, a student.

As part of the promotion of the CWG, the organising committee will conduct a quiz competition based on the commonwealth games and the mascot, Shera, will try to lighten the atmosphere through out the form sale period, May 28 to June 11, said CWG officials.

“We want to relieve the students of the pressure they are under and create a friendly atmosphere. Simultaneously, we also want to create awareness about Shera and the games. Though most students of Delhi know about the games, those outside Delhi are not really aware of it so we are trying to familiarise them,” said an Assistant Project Officer of the organising committee.

Students took a break from the form-filling process and participated in the quiz contest. Questions such as “When and when were the first CWG held?” and “What are the two colours of CWG?” were answered by students. One lucky student would be awarded each day with a goodie bag.

Aimed at humouring the students, Shera, entertained some of them as they posed and clicked pictures with the mascot of the CWG.

Shera made his first appearance at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2006 in Melbourne, where it was declared the mascot of the XIX Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi in October 2010.

Rahman to perform live at Commonwealth Games

The “Mozart of Madras,” A. R. Rahman, has been roped in to perform at the grand opening ceremony of Commonwealth Games 2010, scheduled to take place in New Delhi Oct. 3-14.

(Watch video of Commonwealth Games theme song)

Rahman to perform live at Delhi Commonwealth Games
Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee, informed on Thursday that Rahman would be performing live at the opening ceremony.

Rahman who has been earlier given task to compose theme song for the Games, confirmed that he will perform live during Opening ceremony.

(Read: 'Swagatham' is Rahman's Commonwealth Games theme song)

The organizing committee will release the theme song before the Games in hopes that those present at the opening ceremony will sing along.

Rahman, who received two Oscars last year for his popular music in Slumdog Millionaire, has been named as the most downloaded Indian artist in the world.

Also, Indian band Eupohoria's work has been chosen as Commonwealth Games anthem.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Cleopatra targeting medal at CWG 2010

Cleopatra Borel-Browne is targeting a medal at the Commonwealth Games in India as her primary focus this year.

The Trinidad & Tobago shot putter won a bronze medal at the previous Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, four years ago, and she now aims for a brighter colour in Delhi this October.

"The goal for this year is to bring another Commonwealth medal back to T&T," said 31-year-old Borel Brown.

"The competition will be pretty steep. Valrie Vili (the reigning Olympic, World, and Commonwealth champion from New Zealand) is arguably the No.1 shot-putter in the World and the Commonwealth."

She added: "It is going to be a tough meet, but I am preparing for it. I am really excited. It is at a difficult time of the year for track and field - October, but I really like competing for T&T.

Cleopatra"I believe I have a very good chance to bring home a medal, and I don't take that lightly, so I am going to go out there and do my best."

In 2006 Commonwealth Games at Melbourne, Borel-Brown won the bronze with a distance of 17.87 metres to finish behind Vili and Vivian Chukwuemeka of Nigeria.

Last Sunday, she continued her preparations for the Games with a victory at the Brazil Grand Prix in Rio de Janeiro, with a season's best throw of 18.05m.

Borel-Brown, who holds the T&T national record at 18.91 metres, explained that her preparations for the Commonwealth Games may have cost her a place in the final of the shot put at this year's World Indoor Championships in February in Doha, Qatar. She finished 12th with a distance of 18.31m.

"My training for Doha was not intense as it would have been if the World Indoors were the sole focus of the year," she said.

"My last meet before Doha I threw 18.80 metres (which would have gotten me in the finals). Technically, I was feeling very good before leaving to go Doha. However, the travel was extremely rough. I went with one free day and then I competed the next day."

Thursday, 27 May 2010

5 athletes added to Australian Commonwealth Games squad

Emerging race walker Jess Rothwell and four marathon runners are the latest additions to Australia's track and field squad for the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October.

Rothwell, a former world junior championships representative, gained the final berth up for grabs in the event.

The 20-year-old forced her way into the squad by finishing ninth earlier this month at the World Race Walking Cup in Mexico despite just returning from injury.

She joins Claire Tallent and Cheryl Webb in the women's 20km race in Delhi.

Marathon runners Lisa Flint, Martin Dent, Jeff Hunt and Michael Shelley were also added to the squad, joining automatic selection Lisa Weightman.

Dent is the only one with previous Commonwealth Games experience, having contested the 3000m steeplechase four years ago in Melbourne.

The squad now stands at 74 athletes, with Athletics Australia hoping to take a team of 90 athletes to India for the Games.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Commonwealth Games cars: CWG 0001- CWG 2000

Delhi Government has proposed an exclusive registration number series for the 2000-odd cars the Commonwealth Games organising committee (OC) is procuring for VIPs.

The series is likely to start with the letters CWG, abbreviation for the sporting event used globally, followed by numbers 0001-2000, a senior Delhi government official said.

While no final decision has been taken yet, chances are that these vehicles will continue to have this special number as legacy of the Games.

“Special numbers will help police and OC members identify vehicles catering to delegates and other VIPs, especially in wake of security curbs during the event,” Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta said.

The cars will include sedans and more luxurious cars for VIPs like visiting heads of states. There will be limited number of super luxury, bulletproof cars for VVIPs. The cars will have distinct colours and the Games logo.

Sources said these cars would be ‘sponsored’ by one of the three Indian car manufacturers. Since these cars would be later sold through dealers, the OC wants brand-value associated with the fleet. A unique registration number would add to the brand value, a Delhi government official said.

During the Melbourne Games, Toyota had sponsored cars and later sold them as special edition cars.

According to officials, the transport department has already written to the ministry of road transport and highways seeking its permission to start this series of unique numbers. Senior officials said all vehicles are issued '10-digit' registration number that includes the state code and the district code where the vehicle is registered.

“It would require amendment in the Motor Vehicle Act to have unique series for which transport officials have been directed to write to the union ministry,” a Delhi government official said.

Swimming, atheletics venue may skip trial runs

New Zealand's Commonwealth Games boss Mike Stanley believes Delhi will provide a "useable" venue as fears mount over construction delays for October's games.

New Zealand Olympic Committee officials and representatives from competing sports are in Delhi this week for further inspections of venues and arrangements in the Indian capital.

Their visit comes as Mike Hooper, chief executive officer of the Commonwealth Games Federation, told Reuters there was the potential for embarrassment.

The main stadium remains months overdue while the swimming pool and other venues have also had delays.

The October 3 start is approaching rapidly and it appears some of the venues could host the games without trial runs to iron out potential problems.

"I am not wanting to sound alarmist, but the reality is there is a lot more to be done, a lot of finishing work to be done," Hooper said.

"The Games will happen, swimming will happen, athletics will happen. But it comes down to the level and standards of completion, I suppose."

Stanley, the NZOC president, was waiting for first hand accounts from his staff on the ground in Delhi but didn't dispute Hooper's views.

"I imagine the report is accurate and is consistent with what we are being told and have been told since March," Stanley said.

"We have come to expect that there will be delays on the facilities.

"We remain confident that they will be in a useable state although some of the completion details may be not quite there. But they will be available for the games programme and we have to plan that way.

"So yes, it's going to be a race against time but we should remember Athens (the 2000 Olympics venue) was looking like that and they got there."

Stanley said there was considerable pressure from within India and by the Commonwealth Games Federation to step up the construction pace.

India is hoping the Commonwealth Games can showcase its growing economic power. But new infrastructure like roading and power are also facing delays. They believe as many as two million tourists could be in New Delhi during the games that will feature around 10,000 athletes and officials.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

MCD ask Delhiites to renovate premises

If your house falls on any road that leads to a Commonwealth Games venue, the MCD wants your house repaired and painted. The civic body is likely to make the renovations mandatory.

Residents of Defence Colony, Lajpat Nagar, East of Kailash, Bhogal, Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk have already received such letters from the MCD.

“We had a meeting in April wherein the government asked us to motivate the residents to take up fa├žade improvement of their houses and buildings. In many cases, it was recommended that the buildings are painted again as well. I have informed all the deputy commissioners to hold meetings and encourage the residents,” said MCD commissioner K.S. Mehra. The MCD’s central zone, where most of the CWG venues are located held a meeting to this effect on May 8.

Considering that these are private buildings and the MCD cannot force the residents, in the CWG meeting it was suggested that such residents be given monetary benefits such as rebates in property tax on completion of the work.

However, the MCD has said it cannot shell out the money for this. “We are already short of money. How can we give rebates to residents?” said a senior MCD official. Further debate on this is planned early next month.

Indian boxers to train in UK, Kazakhstan

Prior to the national championships in July, a selected group of boxers is being sent to the UK, Kazakhstan and Russia. While a team of around 15 boxers will head for the British Isles next month for training-cum-competition, another bunch will be participating in competition in Kazakhstan.

No wonder World No.1 (light heavyweight 75 kg category) Vijender Singh is excited. “Our recent trip to China (Super Cup) taught us a lot about Asian boxers. The UK trip will now help us study our European opponents better,” the Olympic bronze medallist told DNA.

With an eye on the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, the Indian Boxing Federation is making sure that India’s rise as a boxing nation is maintained.

National boxing coach GS Sandhu is understandably optimistic. “With new and better spiring partners, we would get to learn a lot more about the different techniques others would employ in CWG,” explained Sandhu. He maintained that his boys will face some stiff competition from the English boxers. A good show in the UK will, in turn, give India a strong chance in CWG.

Meanwhile, bantamweight boxer Jitender Kumar (56kg) is off to Kazakhstan. “We came across many tougher boxers during the Cuba trip and we are expecting similar competition in Kazakhstan. The prize money is also good,” said Jitender, who is now in Patiala for the national camp. Jitender is likely to be accompanied by Amandeep Singh (48kg), Dinesh Kumar (81kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg).

Such has been India’s rise in the world of boxing that not only are athletes being sent abroad for training, but various countries now want to send their boxers to India for the same.

“We are now an established boxing nation and Indian boxers are known to be good spiring partners. Therefore, countries like Mauritius and Sri Lanka have sent their teams here for training. Even England and Australia want to send their teams here prior to CWG,” explained Sandhu.

Scotland team to miss CWG Rugby 7s..!!

Scotland may claim to be the home of seven-a-side rugby, but it looks increasingly likely that the nation which gave birth to the abbreviated game more than 125 years ago may not have presence at the Commonwealth Games sevens competition in Delhi later this year.

That was the unavoidable conclusion of the warning issued by Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, who made it clear that Scotland’s performances on this season’s IRB Sevens World Series have not been up to scratch.

In the seven IRB tournaments held to date, the Scotland team has not once reached the quarter-final stage, the criterion they would have to meet to be put forward for the Delhi event.

Cavanagh said: “In order to have their selection confirmed, and in line with all of the other 16 sports, Scotland Rugby sevens need to demonstrate the potential to finish in the top eight at the Games and confirm the availability of the strongest possible combination of players.

"We have been in ongoing discussions with the SRU and will review the situation with them following this weekend’s final leg of the IRB Sevens.”

The final event is the Emirates Airlines Edinburgh sevens, which takes place at Murrayfield this weekend. The Scots have traditionally done well on home soil – they reached the semi-final stage last year – and coach Stephen Gemmell is confident of strong performance from a side boosted by the arrival of such international stars as Ally Hogg and Ben Cairns.

However, Cavanagh’s insistence on assurances about the strength of the squad which will be available in October is likely to be a greater stumbling block than performances over the past few months.

Even if Scotland do well in their own tournament, it is unlikely that the SRU would be able to guarantee the release of players of the calibre of Hogg and Cairns in October, when the Commonwealth Games will clash with the early rounds of next season’s Heineken Cup.

“We’ve always been clear about the criteria for taking part in the Games and we’re comfortable with that situation,” said SRU communications director Dominic McKay. “We’ll make sure we have the strongest possible squad to compete at the Games.”

However, there appears to be a growing acceptance within Scottish rugby circles that the country simply does not have enough quality players to be competitive on a number of fronts. Graham Lowe, the SRU’s performance director, is currently conducting a review of how the top players are utilized, and it would be no great surprise if participation in the IRB series dropped off the agenda.

As embarrassing as that might be in the country where Melrose butcher first conceived of sevens as a money-spinning wheeze for his local club in 1883, it is probably a more realistic approach than the current situation where resources are spread painfully thin.

There are also suggestions that a Scotland team will not have to meet such stringent performance measures to be entered in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Meanwhile, Scotland coach Andy Robinson has defended the decision not to play three-Test series in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand over the next few years. Speaking after the details of Scotland’s forthcoming international programme had been revealed, Robinson suggested that matches against lower-ranked nations would do more for player development.

“I do not believe it would be beneficial for us to play a series of three Tests against the individual SANZAR countries at the end of our season,” said Robinson. “What I believe works for us, from a performance perspective, is a mix between SANZAR and Tier 2 unions as that gives us the opportunity to develop players, which is part and parcel of touring.”

Scott MacLeod, the Edinburgh lock, has been added to the Scotland squad for next month’s two Tests against Argentina. MacLeod, 31, has been called up as Nathan Hines has ruled himself out due to a family bereavement. Scott Newlands, also of Edinburgh, will take MacLeod’s place in the Scotland A squad for the IRB Nations Cup in Romania.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Commonwealth Games Tennis venue inaugurated

Dr. M. S. Gill, Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports inaugurated an upgraded R.K. Khanna Tennis Complex. This is the first time that tennis as a medal sport has been introduced in the Commonwealth Games.

R.K. Khanna Tennis Complex will be the Venue for Tennis competition for Delhi Commonwealth Games. The venue has hosted Davis Cup matches in the past.

The stadium has been upgraded at a cost of Rs. 65 crores and provides state of the art facilities for the Commonwealth Games. The stadium will have fourteen tennis courts (one Centre Court, one Show Court and 12 Courts). The elements of local architecture with locally available materials such as red sand stone have been used with contemporary modern features to create an aesthetic blend, for the external facade.

SPORTS FACILITIES AT THE STADIUM

• Total Built up area : 11500 sqm.
• Total cost : Rs. 65 crores.
• Field of play : 1 Centre Court, No. 1 Court, 6 match court and 6 practice courts.

• Space utility of new : The stadium now has developed 3 new blocks :

(i) The Centre Court South Block (which was existing but has been upgraded). This has 4 floors. This has facilities for Athletes, doping control, Umpires, C.G. family and broadcast. The centre court seating capacity is 5200.

(ii) The No. 1 court: This block has seating capacity for 1000 spectators. This block also has facilities for ball kids, technical officials, athletes and broad casting.

(iii) The Media Centre: This block is a three storey structure with basement. It houses the facilities for media, reception, Press conference rooms, and international federations.

Green Building Features
• Solar Lighting –reducing running costs.
• Passive Solar Cooling
• Rain water harvesting

Spaces

• Equitable access for most spaces
• Para-sports facilities
• 1000 sqm. Spectator’s Plaza
• CCTV
• Catwalk lighting for Centre Court and No. 1Court-This glare of the field of play light
• Synthetic Acrylic Court Surfaces-11 layer system for medium pace. The courts have a subsurface drainage as well, to increase the longevity of the courts.
• Fire-fighting and Fire Detection systems
• Dedicated Broadcast Centre
• Dedicated Press Conference rooms and lounges
• Dual Grid power supply from BSES

CWG Australia looses Telstra sponsorship

Telstra has dropped its multi-million- dollar sponsorship package for the Commonwealth Games team.

The telco giant will not back our athletes in Delhi, including the long-running hero messages scheme. The program was regarded as a key part of our athletes' success at the Commonwealth Games with fans able to offer support to favourite team members.

"We're disappointed and a little bit taken back because we've had a very long and healthy relationship with Telstra," Games chief Perry Crosswhite said last night from Delhi.

"Certainly the hero messages and faxes mean so much to our athletes and really lifted their spirits.

"It's also the financial support they gave us that will be missed. They'd been with us for a long time so it's unfortunate they won't be with us in Delhi."

Telstra says the decision to axe its sponsorship of swimming and the Games are part of a cost restructure. The company is focusing on lucrative sponsorship deals of the NRL, AFL, and V8s.

Telstra is not the only corporate entity to withdraw its sponsorship of the Delhi Games.

The Australian Commonwealth Games Association has lost several key sponsors who had backed the Melbourne Games in 2006. NAB, Tabcorp, and Microsoft have decided not to renew sponsorships for Delhi.

"It's difficult to compare Melbourne with Delhi when a number of companies jumped on board because it was in our backyard in 2006," a senior Games official said.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

CWG opening ceremony to start @ 1900 hrs local time

The Group of Ministers led by Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy have decided that the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony will start at 7 pm. The creative group, which conceived the ceremony had initially planned a 1930 hrs start since the laser show and pyrotechnics would require darkness.

(Read our Commonwealth Games opening ceremony coverage)

The CWG organising committee had, however, objected saying it had signed a deal with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation stating the ceremony would begin at 5.30 pm.

This had not gone down well with the creative group as it was too late to come up with a new theme. The OC had also claimed earlier that the opening ceremony will be best ever in history of sports.

Finally, an agreement has been reached with all stakeholders and the start of opening ceremony has been scheduled at 1900 hrs IST The ceremony will continue for about 2.5 hours

Friday, 21 May 2010

Call for Ireland to join Commonwealth

Senator David Norris, hoping to become Ireland's next president has called for the Republic to join the Commonwealth

Senator who plans to run in the country's presidential race, said membership would reap enormous benefits.

Speaking at the launch of the book Ireland and the Commonwealth: Towards Membership, at the Royal Irish Academy, he said that although joining the Commonwealth is unlikely to be top of the Irish political agenda, "should it be demonstrated that this is what the Irish people wish I believe that it could be accomplished with a minimum of fuss".

The majority of members are of the Commonwealth, he said, were now republics, with the Queen's position largely titular.

"New successful applicants such as Rwanda have recently joined the Commonwealth even though they were never a British colony. It would produce very useful cultural, financial and political contacts for this country and among other things would enable Irish athletes to compete in the Commonwealth Games, something which I am sure they would welcome."

The book, produced by the Reform Group, is a collection of articles, debates and speeches, generally supportive of Ireland’s membership of the Commonwealth.

The Reform Group believes that the Republic of Ireland should, as a sovereign state, cultivate its "already close relationship with the peoples of the Commonwealth by becoming members of the association".

It argues that this would not only be strategically beneficial but would be an important symbol of a new confident state "at ease with its own identity and free from the animosities of the past".

Other contributors to the book also voiced their support for the move.

Professor Robert Martin, an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, said: "There is a natural bond between Ireland and the Asian, African and Caribbean countries of the Commonwealth. It should be strengthened and institutionalized. Commonwealth membership would be the best means of achieving these ends."

Author and journalist Mary Kenny said: "It would enlarge Ireland’s influence to join the Commonwealth – and enhance the sense of inclusivity in the Irish nation."

Commonwealth Games tickets sale to begin in June

Tickets for the XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi will be on sale in June 2010. Approximately 1.7 million tickets will be available for opening and closing ceremonies along with 17 events to be held during the games. Tickets are subject to availability, and will remain on sale until the start of each event.

Tickets will be available at selected retail outlets in Delhi - National Capital Region (NCR) and major metros, and through a dedicated Call Centre. Tickets purchased online are to be redeemed against the real physical ticket from selected retail outlets across Delhi - NCR (list will be published in June).

The ticket-sales program will be launched in June 2010. This will give registered supporters a chance to receive ticketing news and information. Please visit our website regularly (subscribe to our feed) for updates or visit official CWG website.

There will also be free events, including Road Cycling and Marathon. These events will take place at Central Vista (India Gate) and Greater Noida Expressway. The exact location of events and routes for both Road Cycling and Marathon will be published on our website.

Please note that tickets will only be available via official Commonwealth Games 2010 ticket channels and the Games website.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Delhi traffic updates on social networking sites

Delhi Police has launched a new service to issue advisories and traffic updates relating to Delhi will be available on renowned social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

(Read: Delhi Police launch SMS traffic alert service)

Delhi police will update the status of traffic across the city. Citizens can also post the updates from wherever they are. While the aim seems to have been to set up a strong two-way communication channel with citizens, image building for the Commonwealth Games, which the city will host in October, is clearly an objective too.

“Management of traffic in Delhi, during Commonwealth Games, will be a big challenge as well as a great opportunity,” the police say on the page. “Delhi Traffic Police cannot possibly succeed without the active participation and co-operation of all road users in Delhi.”

This page allows Delhi road users to request police presence in certain areas, make complaints, and ask questions, for example about the fines for different traffic offenses. A few have also expressed their appreciation for the work of the traffic police.

“We have launched this page to know the views of the public and establish a flow of communication with the residents of Delhi,” says Mr. Rajan Bhagat, spokesperson for the Delhi Police.

“We need suggestions to improve. Every comment cannot be an appreciation, thus we are looking into the problems faced by the residents of Delhi and this is a new channel,” added Mr. Bhagat.

The page also acts as a traffic monitoring service of sorts, with Delhi traffic information posted on an hourly basis by both the police and Facebook users, with messages like, “Traffic obstruction at GT Karnal road as one HTV broke down” or “Vehicle has been removed and traffic normalized.”

Mr. Lalit Kumar Sharma, the administrator of the page was very upbeat as he said, “We can change, together, step by step.”

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Delhi govt turns to property registration for funding CWG

Facing a severe funds crunch owing to hefty spending on projects related to the Commonwealth Games this year, the government of Delhi today decided to substantially raise the property registration fees in the capital to fetch an additional revenue of Rs100 crore annually.

Now, for registration of property worth up to Rs 20 lakh, 1% of the total value will have to be paid as registration fee instead of the current Rs 100.

The rate for property valued at more than Rs 20 lakh has been fixed at Rs 50,000.

The decision to raise the property registration fee under section 78 of the Registration Act, 1908, was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Sheila Dikshit.

"The fee of Rs 100 was fixed in 1964. It had not been changed for the last 45 years," Delhi revenue minister Raj Kumar Chouhan said. "The increase in registration fee will fetch the government nearly Rs 100 crore annually."

The new rates of registration will also be applicable for registration of documents such as conveyance deed, sale deed, gift deed, partition deed, and settlement deed.

Justifying the increase, Dikshit said property registration fees had remained unchanged since June 27, 1964, and it was decided to rationalise the rates after comparing them with neighbouring states. Also, Delhi has to cover for increasing cost of 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The national capital, hosting the prestigious Commonwealth Games in October, is going through financial difficulties, especially after the Centre substantially curtailed the allocation for the purpose in the Union budget.

Chouhan said fees for several other categories have also been increased. Now the fee for registration of a will has been increased to Rs500 against the existing Rs100.

Fees under the miscellaneous category have also been increased to Rs1,000 for each instrument.

For example, to file an appeal or to submit an application under various sections of the Registration Act, the existing fee of Rs 10 has been revised to Rs 100.

Similarly, for authentication of a power of attorney, the existing rate of Rs 3 has been increased to Rs 1,000.

Quick reaction teams on Metro trains

Metro commuters will soon have women commandos with rifles and sniffer canines as their co-passengers while commuting.

A good number of trained CISF people, including young women commandos are undergoing rigorous training and will soon be deployed to ensure security of metro commuters. About 10 sniffer dogs are also being trained.

The commandos are part of quick reaction teams (QRTs) in which women in uniform will be on mobile duty in Metro trains during the Commonwealth Games in October, said a senior CISF official.

“We are going to increase the strength of our QRTs before the Games and at the same time, introduce 10 new well-trained sniffer dogs, in order to ensure better security of metro commuters during the Commonwealth Games,” said the official.

“This is an initiative taken by the CISF in order to cater to the increased demand of sniffer dogs for its Bomb Detection Squads in the Delhi Metro for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games,” Rohit Katiyar, CISF spokesperson said.

“Presently, we have 11 sniffer dogs — six from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and five from the CISF — in the dedicated dog squad for Delhi Metro. The new dogs, which are undergoing training, were procured by the CISF itself,” said a DMRC spokesperson.

Talking about women commanders, Katiyar made it clear that one should not underestimate them.

“Our women commanders undergo all kinds of training that male commandos undergo and are equally efficient,” said Katiyar.

Officials said the CISF will increase the strength of its special units of QRTs immediately after the Home Ministry issues a sanction for the same.

DMRC and CISF recently had undertaken a security audit of the commuter service, keeping in view the increasing passenger load with the introduction of new metro stations.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Euphoria compose 2 versions of CWG anthem

Singer composer Palash Sen and his band Euphoria have been working on the official anthem for the Commonwealth Games 2010 to be held in Delhi later this year (2010). The group is ecstatic as their work has been accepted by the Delhi CM.

Sheila Dixit has given her go ahead and now there will be two versions of the CWG 2010 anthem – English and Hindi.

One is named ‘Gateway To Your Heart’ and the other, ‘Dilli Meri Jaan’. ‘Gateway To Your Heart’, a two-and-a-half-minute song, is in English so as to be able to connect with the foreign audience of the Games.

Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee has also engaged Rahman to compose song for the opening ceremony of the games.

"Gateway to your heart" will be played August (2010) onwards internationally. A 30-seconder of the anthem’s English version will also be played at the FIFA World Cup on 11 June, 2010.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Security co-ordination: Next challenge to overcome

Delhi Police is working on creating a centralised system to provide security clearance to thousands of officials, athletes and other supporting staff at over 50 Commonwealth Games venues.

"There will be multi-department interaction during the Commonwealth Games. Police personnel and officials from civic agency, ministries, departments including those in charge of cleaning and upkeep of the venues would have to be given access. There is a need of a system to identify such men and allow them the entry," a senior Delhi Police official said.

Official sources said a number of personnel from civic agencies - Municipal Corporation of Delhi and New Delhi Municipal Council, Sports Ministry, Culture Ministry, central paramilitary forces, private supporting staff for catering and house-keeping work among others shall be frequenting Games venues.

Delhi Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal, who has been interacting with members of his departmental technical committee on the matter, is the nodal officer in-charge of security matters.

Authorities are considering the idea of issuing security cum identity passes which will provide limited and graded access to officials and staff.

Delhi Police has already carried out a security audit of all the Games venues. According to the information given on CWG website the 17 sports to feature in the Games will be held at six venue clusters and five stand-alone venues in Delhi.

Besides, 26 new training venues are being constructed for the Games for different sports. Apart from this, 16 training venues are being upgraded.

Delhi Police has also made a crisis management plan to deal with any contingencies including fire, stampede and terror attacks at the Games venues.

Delhi Police is on a heightened alert against the possibility of terror attacks during the Games.

Sources said the Delhi Police, which is the first line of defence at Games venues, does not as yet have any data on the number of such employees or officials who shall be coming to the venues.

"We are coordinating with different departments including several ministries, civic bodies and central security agencies as to how we can address the issue. Providing daily passes to such officials will not be possible," the official said.

Commonwealth Games will be held from October 3 to 14 in the national capital.

Lakhs of domestic and foreign visitors including athletes, mediapersons, security officers and dignitaries will be coming to attend the event. Other than this, hundreds of supporting staff shall be providing various services during the event.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Delhi follows Beijing, to intensify drive against air pollution

With the Commonwealth Games in mind, the Delhi government Saturday said it will intensify pollution checks in the capital. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit convened a meeting with officials and discussed about the possible increase in pollution level during the Oct 3-14 Games.

“There will be an huge increase in quantum of traffic during the Games. It will be in the fitness of things if number of vehicles coming from other states may be minimized at least during those days,” Dikshit said.

As of now, around one million vehicles enter the capital daily.

It was also decided to intensify pollution check drives in Delhi and exhort people to go for regular pollution under control (PUC) checks.

Dikshit also suggested that all coal-based power stations be shut down during the duration of the Games.

It was also decided that timings would be strictly enforced for trucks plying in the city.

During the meeting it was also suggested that in case of parking at unauthorized places the amount of fine may be increased along with the hike in parking charges to discourage use of private vehicles.

Since schools and colleges will remain closed during the Games so 1,200 school buses and 2,500 maxi cabs will remain off the roads.

Dikshit also stressed upon the need of a short-term and long-term strategy to de-congest roads.

Friday, 14 May 2010

1400 medals at Commonwealth Games

Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL) has received order from Organizing Committee Commonwealth Games-2010 Delhi for manufacturing around 1400 sports medals to be awarded to winners of different sports events during Commonwealth Games.

India Government Mints (Units of SPMCIL) have impeccable and glorious distinction of minting coins and medallions. IGMs also manufactures medals like Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, etc. and is, in the past, associated with prestigious national and international events viz manufacture of sports medals for IX Asian Games, 1982 Delhi, Commonwealth Youth Games, 2008, Pune, Military World Games, 2007, etc.

SPMCIL would also be appointed as Official Ticket Printing agency of CWG-2010. These tickets having enhanced security features would be printed at India Security Press (ISP), Nashik Road. The Admission Tickets for Asian Games 1982, Delhi were also printed by ISP, Nashik.

Radio Sports NZ not to send team to Delhi

New Zealand's radio rights holder for the Commonwealth Games, Radio Sport, plans to commentate from broadcast booths in Auckland, not from trackside or poolside in Delhi.

The station's programme director, Chris Gregory, is adamant that the decision not to send a full team to India, but instead cover events from a studio 12,500km away, won't affect listeners.

The station will have only two staff reporters, to file news stories, in India during the Games in October.

But Gregory denied the station was "forced" into reduced coverage, saying: "We haven't been forced into anything. It's a big part of our programme for this year, but, like any business, we have got to be prudent on how we approach it and take on wider concerns about security and the event itself."

However, Gregory confirmed: "We've got commentary teams calling from audio-visual feeds. I don't think it does [reduce the listeners' experience], the perception that someone is not there.

"The reality is we are using people on the ground, and we are not compromised in terms of commentary because we will have the best commentators in their specialist field to cover the events, whether they are there or not. We comment on a lot of stuff on a day-to-day basis when we are not there, it is the nature of radio – we don't have to verify where we are."

Gregory said the station had previously covered netball finals and rugby league tests remotely, but said it had sent bigger teams to the Commonwealth Games in the past. The Sunday Star-Times understands the station has decided only breakfast newsreader Rikki Swannell and reporter Brenton Vannisselroy will be sent to Delhi.

Sky Sport boss Kevin Cameron did not return calls to discuss how his network, which holds the television rights, would cover the event.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Delhi airport T3 to have a million trees

Intricate landscapes, variety of plants, cacti and bushes will now adorn the Delhi International Airport. With the airport authorities rushing in to meet the deadline for integrated T3 terminal in June-end, they are leaving no stone unturned to make it a grand affair. The authorities are in the process to plant around a million trees and small plants to revamp the Delhi airport.

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The new Terminal 3 building, currently under construction and expected to cost US $2.6 billion will have the capacity to handle an additional 33 million passengers annually by the Commonwealth Games. On completion, the terminal will become the world's third largest passenger terminal after Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3 and Beijing International Airport's Terminal 3.

"The green project is already underway and by the end of June we are expecting to finish it. For external landscaping, about 320 different varieties of plants and trees will be used and 266 varieties of plants will be used for internal landscaping. Over 9,22,000 trees and plants will be planted for the entire project," said a Delhi International Authority Limited (DIAL) official.

There will be around 39 kinds of trees, 26 types of plants, 86 varieties of shrubs, 6 types of cacti that will be planted. Landscaping for an area of 70 acres outside the Terminal and 10,000 square meter inside the terminal building will be done. About 39 types of groundcovers and soft landscaping work will be carried out on the lawns covering 30,000 square metres.

The officials stated that most of the plants have been selected from plant nurseries across the country and a few varieties have been flown down  from abroad.
"A majority of the plants are from Indian nurseries, but exotic varieties of Orchids have been sourced from Thailand and Dioon Spinosa from Mexico," said the official. 

To complete the mammoth task, DIAL authorities are taking experts' help. EDAW, an international firm in Hongkong has done the landscaping work for the airport. And along with a Bangalore-based landscape architect company - Beyond Built - which is assisting from concept to commission process in the project, the authorities are expecting to deliver a state-of-the-art piece of work.

"EDAW was involved in the landscape design of Hongkong International Airport, Hongkong Disneyland and many other international projects. We hope that the project sets an example for other airports in the country," added the official.  "About 10,000 plants will be regularly maintained at a nursery near the terminal. The nursery will also be used for research and development in horticulture for the terminal landscaping later on," explained the official. 

Amir Khan's brother may represent Pakistan

World champion Amir Khan's brother Haroon will fight for Pakistan at the Commonwealth Games after being overlooked by the English authorities. This comes in wake of rejection by English Boxing association, and is possible because Haroon holds both Pakistani and British citizenship.

"There's no future for him representing England as they've got their podium squad and development squad, and he's not even on that," said Shah Khan, Amir's and Haroon's father.

Speaking ahead of his elder son Amir's fight with Paulie Malignaggi in New York on Saturday, Khan said the Pakistan authorities had taken a look at his younger son and were happy to have him as part of their programme for October's Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Haroon, 19, says he has been forced to abandon his dream of emulating his big brother by fighting for Britain at the 2012 Olympics because the England selectors refuse to consider him. The bantamweight, who was the 2009 junior ABA champion, has dual British-Pakistani nationality and is excited about representing his father's homeland at the Games in New Delhi in October.

"I really wanted to box for Britain at the Olympics ever since Amir won silver in Athens," said Haroon, who has won 61 of his 67 fights. "I looked at what he did and dreamt of going one better.

"But I've never had a look-in with the senior England squad, not even a letter. What used to happen was when I was a junior, they would call me up a week before an international and ask if I could box.

Haroon is contemplating not to represent Pakistan at London Olympics, and his desire is limited to only Commonwealth Games.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

CWG to provide security blueprint for 2010 WC

Organizers of the 2011 cricket World Cup will draw their security plans based on this year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

"The Commonwealth Games will be the benchmark for us about security arrangements," World Cup director Ratnakar Shetty told the Press Trust of India on Wednesday.

The Commonwealth Games, scheduled for Oct. 3-14, will be the biggest multiple sport event in India since the 1982 Asian Games.

The cricket World Cup is to be jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh during February and March.

"Security is an important aspect for organizing any event in the Asian subcontinent," Shetty said. "People have doubts ... because of events that have taken place in this part of the world."

Shetty said cricket organizers in all three host nations had the support of their respective federal governments, which was considered vital for staging international events.

The three co-hosting cricket boards had already appointed their own national security managers, he said.

Shetty said it was mandatory for the three cricket boards to appoint their own security managers.

He said the security manager for each country would co-ordinate all arrangements, execute security plans and liaise with the government.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

IRCTC bags CWG catering contract

Indian Railway Catering Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a Railway PSU, has successfully clinched the rights to confer its catering services to sportspersons at the Commonwealth Games venues in Delhi beside from selling tickets online for Commonwealth Games.

According to a Railway official that IRCTC has taken the onus to provide catering services to sportspersons as well as team officials as per their dietary requirement during the Commonwealth Games, and a special team has been appointed to oversee the food served.

He affirmed that the catering service will be offered by IRCTC in eight sporting venues during the course of the event which begins on October 3.

It is not clear as to whether catering contract will cover the Commonwealth Games village as well along with other venues as well. The details are further awaited. Earlier, the OC members have indicated that there would be 11 clusters in catering and each would be given out to one caterer. A lot of hospitality chains were in race for catering contract.

Congestion charge for Delhiites

Delhi seems to be preparing in full swing for the Commonwealth games. The modernisation of police including the introduction of the mini robot, going green, improved infrastructure and now it is the drive to reduce congestion on roads.

In a bid to reduce the congestion on certain roads to make them congestion free, the government will now charge the commuters for travelling in the congested roads of the city. The trend already exists in Europe where they have a Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ). It helps reduce congestion and also increases funds for the transport system.

Speaking at a discussion on 'Clean air before the Commonwealth Games' at the Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi Environment secretary Dharmendra said, "The Delhi Transport department is working out a plan to levy a fee on motorists driving in the congested areas of the capital before the Games. The step would help in controlling number of vehicles in busy areas during the sporting event. There has been a quantum jump in the number of vehicles plying on roads in the capital in the last few years and such steps can help in checking inflow of vehicles on Delhi roads."

Managing traffic during the upcoming Commonwealth Games is a big challenge for the Delhi government. The Delhi Traffic police is also planning to have dedicated lanes during the Games for swift movement of athletes and delegates.

Monday, 10 May 2010

1400 multi-lingual guides for Delhi

With the Games expected to draw tourists from countries beyond the Commonwealth, the Ministry of Tourism is hoping to break some language barriers.

The ministry has already asked the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM), Gwalior, to train 1,400 tour guides who can speak Chinese, Russian, Korean, German, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, Thai or Portuguese. While the Commonwealth mostly includes countries where English is popular, the ministry wanted to ensure a more comfortable experience for visitors from non-English speaking countries who are likely to visit Delhi for the Games.

The new guides will need to have speaking and writing skills in at least one of the 10 foreign languages. The IITTM will then teach them about the history, society and important monuments of Delhi and nearby areas. Dr Sandeep Kulshreshtha, who is Head of Academics at the institute in Gwalior, said that apart from working in Delhi, the guides would also accompany tourists if they want to visit other parts of the country. “Hence, during the training, knowledge on important tourist spots in other parts of the country will also be provided,” he said.

Full bore shooting range inaugurated

Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports M S Gill today inaugurated the newly-constructed Full Bore Shooting Range at the CRPF Campus at Kadarpur in Gurgaon, Haryana.

The range, built at a cost of Rs 28 crore, will be the venue for holding the prestigious Queen Matches during the Commonwealth Games that Delhi will host in October this year.

The range is located at the foothills of the Aravali Hills range, within the campus of the Central Reserve Police Force at Gurgaon near here.

The venue has the natural barrier of the Aravali hills on the one side and at suitable orientation. It has been designed as a "No Danger Area" range with well-designed side baffle walls and end butt wall in RCC.

An official pres release movable electronic targets would be used for the first time for Full Bore shooting competition for 300 yards, 300 meters, 500 yards, 600 yards, 900 yards and 1000 yards during Commonwealth Games.

Dr Gill suggested the starting of an annual big bore shooting competition among the Central Para Military Forces, State Police Forces and the Army for proper utilisation of the range.

The release said the range would also be the venue for national and international shooting competition evnts.

The stadium is supported with a facility block with covered area of 2280 sq m with a seating capacity of 324.

The project was funded by the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and constructed by the Central Public Works Department.

UN praise Delhi pollution watch before CWG

A pollution monitoring system developed by Indian scientists has come in for praise from the United Nations as an important step to ensure clean air during the Commonwealth Games.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), a specialised agency of the UN, said the System of Air Pollution Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) will serve as an example within India, South Asia and globally.

Aimed at managing air quality, it has been developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

"The WMO recognises SAFAR as a very important activity in the region and will make all efforts to get international visibility for the project," L. Jalkanen, head of the WMO's Atmospheric Environment Research Division, wrote in a letter to SAFAR project director Gurfan Beig in March.

The UN recognition holds significance as some athletes have hinted at skipping the Games, as they fear that Delhi's air is unsafe to breathe.

Scientists at IITM are elated and confident that the system will help in ensuring clean air during the Games, dubbed as the first ever Green Games.

"SAFAR will make India one of the few countries to take a big leap in environmental research," Beig told.

"The system will tell us the quality of air at a given moment and also what it will be 24 hours later, thus alerting people and helping them avoid immediate exposure to unhealthy air."

SAFAR will provide information on air quality on an hourly basis and forecast pollution levels 24 hours in advance through wireless colour digital display panels located at 11 key points in the city during the Games.

"On any day, if the pollution level is high, the Delhi government might order closing of shops or reducing traffic flow," Indian Meteorological Department director Ajit Tyagi told.

Only a few developed countries have the technical knowhow to use such a system. It was used during the Olympic Games in Beijing and also at the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

The Indian capital is among the most polluted cities in the world. Its major problem is an ever-growing number of cars, three- and two- wheelers, which occupy a staggering 75 percent of the road space, although only 20 percent of the commuting public use them.

Delhi has over five million vehicles and another one million come to the metropolis from towns in the national capital region in adjoining states.

China had a tough time battling air pollution during the Olympic Games last year and there are doubts whether Delhi can be as effective as Beijing in enforcing traffic curbs, raising emission standards and stopping Games' construction work well in time to improve air quality.

SAFAR will provide air quality levels in a four-kilometre stretch around the Games village and other major venues. Instruments like ozone and carbon monoxide analysers and real time analysers for various other pollutants would be used for collecting the data.

The system will provide details about oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, black carbon and benzene present in Delhi air.

"Exposure to the pollutants will affect human health, increased respiratory symptoms, heart and lung diseases, allergies being some of them," said Beig.

SAFAR's inputs will greatly help in identifying the major sources of air pollutants and recommending measures to help improve the air quality.

Bids invited from OOH agencies

The Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games 2010 has invited bids from OOH agencies for production of vehicle graphics, standees, banners and signages for national sector of the Queen’s Baton Relay 2010. The specified materials will have to be delivered latest by June 5.

The agencies should be empanelled either with DAVP (Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity) or MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) in Delhi. The bids will be opened on May 17, 2010 at 1 pm.

The Games will also offer a sponsorship marketing opportunity for the agencies. The interested agencies should submit their request for considering sponsorship opportunities on printing collateral materials for the national sector of the Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 Delhi through cash and/or ‘value in kind’ provision of agreed products and services.

The eligibility criteria specifies that the agencies must have been in the business of providing professional services in the area of production of specified materials for at least the last five years. Relevant documentation in support of the experience claimed will need to be submitted. In addition, the agencies shall be required to submit documents of previous experience of providing indoor/ outdoor venue signage, venue branding services to major clients along with the list of clients.

The agencies should have an annual turnover of at least Rs 1 crore or more in any of the last three financial years from similar businesses. This apart, the agencies should have at least one full-fledged office with necessary infrastructure in the National Capital territory or region. The documentary evidence of complete details of operations in Delhi as well as numbers of years of operation will have to be provided along with the bid.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

21 countries to participate in wresting meet in Delhi

New Delhi's Indira Gandhi Sports Complex will play host to senior Asian freestyle, Greco Roman style and the female wrestling championships from May 12 to 16.The event is being seen as a test case for the wrestling competition of the October 2010 Commonwealth Games.

It is one of the major tournaments of FILA in which top wrestlers from 21 countries will compete for top honors with each other.

"This is a major tournament of FILA; it is also opted as a test event for the Commonwealth Games 2010. Asia is a very strong continent in wrestling. In fact, 90 percent of medals in Olympics in wrestling come from Europe and Asia. We have excellent participants from 21 countries," said G.S Mander, the president of the Wrestling Federation of India.

The 21 countries include all major wrestling nations like Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Korea, China and Mongolia.

Several of the participants are medal winners of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and 2009 Senior World Wrestling Championship held in Denmark.

The competition will be held daily in the afternoon with preliminary rounds from 2:00 to 5:00 PM and medal rounds to decide Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medal winners from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.

Freestyle wrestling competitions will be held on May 12 and 13, while the female wrestling competition will take place on May 14. The Greco-Roman style competition will be held on May 15 and 16.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

15,000 radio cabs for Delhi

It will be a smooth ride for tourists and citizens during the Commonwealth Games in Delhi as the government has estimated that around 15,000 radio taxis will be on the roads by October.

"There is no hurdle to obtain licences (to operate radio taxis). Anyone who satisfies the criteria can get it without difficulty.

We are encouraging people to travel by buses and radio cabs instead of using personal vehicles," transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said. The cabs will be in operation before the Games and will offer a safe mode of transport, he added.
Earlier, chief minister Sheila Dikshit flagged off a new radio taxi service 'YO Cabs'.

Guernsey names squad for Commonwealth Games

The Guernsey Commonwealth Games Association has announced its team to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October this year. A total of 45 atheletes will represent Guernsey during Delhi Commonwealth Games to be held in October this year.

The squad is as follows:

ATHLETICS: Dale Garland, Lee Merrien, Tom Druce, Matthew Bailey, Hywel Robinson, Nathan Stevens. Kylie Robilliard, Helen Hadjam.

BADMINTON: Elena Johnson, Gayle Lloyd.

BOWLS: Alison Merrien, Gwen De La Mare, Lucy Beere, Matthew Le Ber, Donald Batiste, Ian Merrien, Garry Collins, Daniel De La Mare, Gary Pitschou.

CYCLING: Tobyn Horton, James McLaughlin, Joshua Gosselin, Ann Bowditch.

SHOOTING FULL BORE: Peter Jory, Adam Jory.

SQUASH: Chris Simpson, Henry Birch, Zephanie Curgenven, Natalie Dodd, Issey Norman-Ross.

SWIMMING: Ian Powell, Tom Hollingsworth, Alexander Beaton, Ben Lowndes, Jeremy Osborne, Ian Hubert.

TABLE TENNIS: Garry Dodd, Oliver Langlois, Matthew Stubbington, Alice Loveridge, Dawn Morgan, Kay Chivers.

TENNIS: Heather Watson, Patrick Ogier, Dominic McLuskey.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Kenya to send 250 athletes to CWG

Kenya will send a team of 250 athletes and officials to this year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Indiain spite of the security concerns.

National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) chairman Kipchoge Keino ruled out withdrawing the Kenyan team from the competition saying they are satisfied with the organization efforts to get the situation under control.

This follows terror threats that Delhi remains a possible terror target during the games.

Keino announced several measures including bringing on board Kenyan policemen to boost the security of the team in India.

"We are taking along several police and intelligence officers to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games in October," said Keino.

At the same time, Keino announced the appointment of a Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police Jonathan Koskei, as the games Chief de Mission because of his profession.

"We are not taking anything for granted.

"We have appointed Koskei because he has knowledge and well placed to advise us on issues of security and of course his involvement in sports.

"I believe we will be well secured as a team," said Keino.

Several intelligence and police officers will also be included in the large Kenyan contingent to the games.

Stephen Soi, who will be the games executive officer and a former police officer, said security, starts with individual athletes and they will sensitize them on need to maintain limited movements while in India.

"No one will be allowed to walk out of the athletes’ village alone or without permission.

"We are serious about the security because we do not want the terrorists to win in this war against a noble event," said Keino.

Kenya will send a large contingent of over 250 athletes and officials and Soi confirmed it will be a major challenge to restrict their movement and provide total security to them.

Keino said between six and ten officers will be allowed to accompany the team.

More than 8,000 athletes from 71 nations are due to compete in India.

"But we are having contacts in Delhi.

"From the Kenyan High commission to individual security agents, we have established links with the security officials in India which we will use to advise us on the situation time and again," said Soi.

Delhi Police to acquire MROV to tackle threat

Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, the Delhi Police is set to buy a mini remote-operating vehicle (MROV) that can detect and defuse bombs and explosives, an official said Thursday.

Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said: “We had a technical evaluation of the MROV. This is the first step in the procurement process.

“Bidding for the price is yet to be done. We are hoping to get it before the Commonwealth Games,” he added.


Canada based ICOR Technology manufactured robot, ROBOCOP can not only trace the explosive but lift it and put it in a Total Containment Vehicle (TCV), which is used for defusing bombs. This way, bomb squad personnel will not have to expose themselves to the explosives.

MROV has a robotic arm with a 5 degree movement including a turret, shoulder, elbow, wrist and claw joint. It can lift approximately 20 kgs and drag up to 130 kgs. The caliber T5 robot are used by Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams across the world and can also drag injured people to safety, climb stairs and negotiate rocky terrain. It has a maximum speed of 8 km /hr.

The SWAT robots can also fire weapons if they are mounted on it, guided by the five laser cameras with pan, tilt and zoom features. This feature is especially useful in hostage situation.

The Caliber T5 robot can be operated from a Command and Control Unit within a distance of 500 metres in direct line of sight and up to 300 metres in a closed building. It can be used in narrow passages and even planes.

Joint Commissioner (north) Karnal Singh said: “Although the device is designed in Canada, it is suitable in the Indian scenario, particularly in the national capital where it will be able to help in bomb scare situations.”

Mandatory CCTVs in approved guest houses

To ensure foolproof security during the Commonwealth Games, close circuit televisions (CCTVs) have been made mandatory in approved guest houses here, the government said today.

"Efforts have been made to address the security concerns in the guidelines for approval of guest houses.

CCTVs have been made mandatory in approved guest houses," Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed said in reply to a written question in Lok Sabha.

He said, under the guidelines, the requirement of guest houses is minimum six rooms and for "Bed & Breakfast Scheme" the minimum of one and maximum of six rooms.

The antecedents of the owners of the B&B establishments are also verified before granting approval, he said.

The ministry has also introduced guidelines for setting up tented accommodation, he said.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Private operators must provide AC buses

With the first cluster of buses meant to replace Bluelines across 32 routes expected to hit the roads before the Commonwealth Games, the Delhi government has decided that companies bidding for the next four clusters should have at least 20 per cent of their buses air-conditioned. These buses, to be procured and operated by the private operator, will complement the 250 low-floor AC buses run by the Delhi Transport Corporation.

“A fifth of the buses provided by the new operators will have to be air-conditioned. These will be procured and operated by the firm,” said a senior Delhi government official.

As part of the scheme, drawn by the Delhi Integrated Multi-modal Transit System (DIMTS) in 2007 for the gradual phase-out of Blueline buses, DTC is meant to operate 60 per cent buses in each cluster. The rest will be a combination of standard and low-floor buses procured by private bus operators.

“AC buses will add value to the city’s public transport system, and so we have decided to make it mandatory for those bidding for the four new clusters,” the official added. The initial bids for the four new clusters, including parts of South Delhi and Dwarka, will open on May 7.

By June, DTC expects its fleet to comprise 1,250 AC and 1,875 ordinary low-floor buses. The hike in tariff coupled with the nod for standard floor buses as per specifications of the Urban Development Ministry is expected to bring down costs for private operators. Officials believe this will make it easier for them to introduce AC buses. The first cluster of 32 routes was awarded at Rs 47 per km.

As per the new model, the 657 bus routes across the city were divided into 17 clusters, each with profitable and non-profitable routes. While the government will control bus fares, the private operator will get a fixed rate per kilometre quoted for each bus it runs in the cluster.

Fire department point out shortcomings in CWG venues

Less than five months to go before the Commonwealth Games, but a burning issue remains. Three Games venues - Talkatora Indoor Stadium, Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium and Siri Fort Indoor Stadium are yet to receive No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from the fire department.

"We inspected these stadiums and found several shortcomings in them. These have to be rectified before Delhi Fire Services (DFS) grant them an NOC," fire department sources said.

"The width of the staircases in the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium and Talkatora Indoor Stadium are less than the required limit, which is 2 metres. The ventilation in the basement is not adequate which can result in suffocation due to smoke if there is a fire incident," sources in Delhi Fire Department told MiD DAY.

"There is no compartmentalisation in these two stadiums and it can result in the fire spreading to other areas inside the stadiums." they said.

The Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium lacks smoke management and compartmentalisation. Even Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range is yet to receive an NOC from the DFS.

"As of now we haven't issued an NOC to any of the stadiums that are being renovated and those which have been handed over to authorities," added the sources.

Delhi Fire Services Director, RC Sharma said, "We will issue an NOC when the concerned agencies confirm to the fire department the fulfilment of recommendations handed out to them."

The official spokesperson for Commonwealth Games, Lalit Bhanot said, "It's the duty of the venue owners to get all the safety and other clearances from respective agencies. The issue has come up in meetings and these venue owners are in the process of getting the clearances. I am very sure that we will get all the clearances in time."

Camera installation is running behind schedule

Even as the capital continues to be on terror radar, Delhi Police has not shown any urgency in installing close circuit television (CCTV) cameras — crucial for tracking suspect movements — at vulnerable market places and easily penetrable border check posts ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

The laxity has earned Delhi Police the wrath of a parliamentary standing committee, which criticised it for under-utilization of funds meant for CCTV installation at 58 markets and 27 border check posts. As of now, the cameras have been fitted only at Khan Market and Ghazipur border. According to sources, Delhi Police has used only Rs 10.63 crore of the Rs 40 crore allocated for the CCTV project in the last two years.

The parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, headed by M Venkaiah Naidu, has expressed "great concern" over the delay and found "serious lacuna" in the implementation of funds allotted for modernizing of traffic and communication network.

The work was supposed to be completed by March 31, 2010 but according to the standing committee report, MHA has informed it that the work will be completed by June 30. Installation, commission and testing of Wide Area Network (WAN) will continue till September 3, said the report. The Delhi Police last year had claimed that it was installing WAN-enabled cyber highway for interlinking of police exchanges, police stations, kiosks, police and district headquarters.

However, Delhi cops blame the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) for the delay. "We have made advance payments to various agencies but work has not started so far. ECIL was roped in by MHA but the agency has not been able to complete the work," said a senior police officer.

ACP Rajan Bhagat said Delhi Police has not reviewed the comment as yet and would abide by the suggestions of the committee.

When contacted, MHA officials refused to comment but sources told Times City that process of allocating work to bidders is being reviewed. ECIL is handling most of the CCTV installation work," said an MHA official. The Delhi Police claimed that the payment for Khan Market and Ghazipur projects were made in 2008 and 2009.

"Now MHA is handling all the work. The tender was given to ECIL. We make payments to the vendor on the direction of MHA and after submission of a work clearance and inspection certificate from MHA,” added an officer.

CGF lists key challenges

With 151 days left for the Commonwealth Games, the Co-ordination Commission (CoCom) of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) after its last round of meeting here said it is happy with the progress but singled out some key challenges for the Organising Committee, including completion of some venues and security before the Oct 3-14 event. The COCOM, chaired by CGF treasurer Austin Sealy, said that 70 critical issues listed in December have now been reduced to just 38.

“We are extremely happy to be back here and are through with our seventh and final meeting. Certainly the progress that we have noticed since our previous visit in December last year is remarkable. But still a lot of work is to be done. There is quite a bit of work to be undertaken by Suresh Kalmadi (organising committee chairman) and his team,” said Sealy.

The Barbadian said that major areas of concerns are construction of the Games Village, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, venue for opening and closing ceremony, and the swimming complex.

“These delays have the knock-on effect and hamper the organising committee’s planning and implementation for final, overlay, staff training, rehearsal and stimulation. It is imperative that everything be done to accelerate work and that the agencies responsible for venue delivery cooperate fully with the Organising Committee to ensure the final planning for handover and operations,” he said.

Sealy also said the CGF will work closely with the Organising Committee, Delhi Police and the government to monitor the security arrangements.

“We must say that we are happy with security, but even the Times Square is not safe. So we can’t take anything for granted,” he said.

Sealy also said he was happy with the sponsorship money raised for the Commonwealth Games.

“The sponsorship deal has not only crossed what we got from Melbourne but also our expected target,” he said.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

CWG: DD gearing for HDTV show

Doordarshan has begun a major exercise in educating the multi-system operators and cable operators about high definition television which will be introduced in the country along with the Commonwealth Games in October this year.

Doordarshan director-general Aruna Sharma told that she had met representatives of multi-system operators (MSOs) and cable operators in Mumbai and Delhi to answer any queries about HDTV.

This will be the first time in Commonwealth Games history that the event is being broadcast in High Definition digital, also marking a critical milestone for Indian television.

Sharma said that introduction of HDTV will not necessarily mean buying new television sets. The plasma screen TV sets are already geared for HDTV. For the other TV sets, it may be necessary to replace the set top box.

Doordarshan is establishing two HDTV studios in Delhi and Mumbai, and field production and post production facilities in four metros. The HDTV uplink will be set up at Delhi and HDTV terrestrial transmitters will be installed in four metros.

The XIX Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010 will be held from 3 to 14 October. The competition will feature 17 sports, with around 8,500 athletes and officials from 71 Commonwealth Games Federation member countries expected to attend.

Sharma denied that Doordarshan had sought any increase over the budget allocated for the games – Rs 3.66 billion. However, she said this figure is for coverage of the games and does not include expenditure being incurred by Doordarshan as rights holder broadcaster.

Sharma said the pact with Satellite Information Services Live was working according to plan. The agreement with SIS was for a contract price of Rs 2.46 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, SIS LIVE will provide all the production facilities and personnel to cover 17 different sports across 12 venues in Delhi, as well as the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies.

Sharma said Doordarshan is deputing 50 personnel for covering three events – wrestling (for which a new stadium is being built next to Nehru Stadium), boxing and weight-lifting. Other events will be covered by the SIS teams.

Apart from providing the technical infrastructure to cover the Games, SIS Live is providing over 1,000 highly skilled technical and production staff at the 12 venues.

Australia’s Global Television with its Indian partner Shaf Broadcast are designing, installing and will operate the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) for the Games.

The IBC is the hub for all Commonwealth Games broadcasting activity, handling incoming television pictures and sound from the host broadcaster, distributing that footage to international rights holders and managing rights holders’ outgoing transmissions.

The Delhi Commonwealth Games IBC will house studio and reporting facilities for broadcasters and journalists from around the world. Occupying 8,000 square meters, up to 1,500 broadcast professionals will be based at the IBC.

Sharma said the Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BESIL) had been contracted as a delivery partner on a turn-key basis for setting up the Main Press Centre at Pragati Maidan. An expenditure of Rs 317.5 million is to be incurred on this work, which includes carrying out media operations at the Main Press Centre and the venue Media Centres for the Games. BESIL is expected to complete its work by 30 September.

Doordarshan earlier this month received clearance of Rs 6.20 billion for digitalisation of 40 transmitters and studios in the Doordarshan network during the 11th Plan. This includes networking of DTT through satellite, augmentation of DMCs by providing equipment and facilities for maintaining the digital infrastructure, providing five sets of digital measurement equipment at zonal offices, providing 60 UPS at High Power Transmitters to ensure uninterrupted power supply, R&D and Training, digitalisation of 31 partially digitalised and 8 analogue studio centers, digitalisation of archiving facilities, and digitalisation of news automation system and e-governance and IT Scheme.

Earlier, Doordarshan had set aside an amount of Rs 12.09 billion of a total approved outlay of Rs. 13.69 billion just for digitization in the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012).

Kalmadi meets PM over new Sports ministry regulations

Indian Olympic Association officials along with a delegation of National Sports Federations met the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday over the issue of new tenure regulations.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Kalmadi said, "We met Prime Minister over the issue of the IOA autonomy."

"We have assured the Prime Minister that the Commonwealth Games will be a huge success. We conveyed that Sports Minister M S Gill should not have come out with all these ideas now. He should have come out after the Games. The Prime Minister has said that he will look into the matter," Kalmadi added.

The officials are also unconvinced as to why this stir had to come just months ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

They have termed the government move as interference in their affairs and even warned that the attempts to erode their autonomy may invite international ban on India.

The new regulations restrict National Sports Federations presidents from occupying the posts for over 12 years, with or without break.

When it comes to secretaries and treasurers, the regulations allow them to serve eight years at a stretch and to seek a re-election only after a four-year gap.

Apart from Kalmadi, the regulation seeks to end the over a decade-old reign of VK Malhotra (archery), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (cycling), VK Verma (badminton), Captain Satish K Sharma (aero club), B S Adityan (volleyball) and Jagdish Tytler (judo).

Jamia University ready to play host to CWG

Jamia Millia Islamia is gearing up to play an important role during the Commonwealth Games to be held in October 2010.

Jamia is going to be a venue for practice sessions of Rugby 7's and Table Tennis and has consequently upgraded its games and sports facilities for the Oct 3-14 Games.

Jamia's students are also volunteering to help during the Commonwealth Games. Once the Commonwealth Games are over, the students of the university will enjoy these upgraded sports facilities, which match international standards, the university said in a statement.

"There is a lot of excitement in the Jamia campus about the Commonwealth Games and the University community is looking forward to playing an important role in the event," the university said.

The university will accommodate 700 guests on campus for which it has received funds from the government to upgrade its existing hostel facilities and infrastructure.

This infrastructure will be a permanent asset for the university since this falls under the category of 'legacy infrastructure' which means that once the games are over, they become the assets of the university and will be used by students.

Two new hostels (one for boys and one for girls) are being built for the purpose. The attempt of the university is to make sure that part of the new hostels are ready by September so that students do not face any disturbance in their academic calendar.

The university will remain closed from October 1-15 in the coming academic session.

4,000 tourist guides across India

Nearly 4,000 regional tourist guides would be employed keeping in mind the expected rise in demand during the Commonwealth Games in October, a tourism ministry official said Tuesday.

The guides will be distributed in five regions across the country - northern, southern, eastern, western and northeastern - and will be given licences under the tourism ministry’s scheme of Regional Level Guides.

“The number of Regional Level Guides until 2007 was 1,930 of which 1,154 were in the northern region alone. Thereafter, 602 such guides have been trained during 2009-10 by the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM), Gwalior,” the official said.

“In addition to this, there will be 1,400 foreign language guides. Thus the total number of guides available before the Games will be 3,932,” he added.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Sports ministry directive in sync with IOC rules

Taken aback by the criticism from Federation heads, Sports Minister MS Gill on Tuesday hit back saying that they want unlimited tenures which don't exist even in the International Olympic Council (IOC).

"I guess the current protest is frankly because my friends (in federations) want unlimited tenures which don't exist even in IOC and most major sports federations in the world," said Gill.

The new regulation suggests National Sports Federation (NSF) presidents, which includes long-standing Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi, cannot occupy the post for more than 12 years, with or without break, while secretaries and treasurers can serve eight years at a stretch and can seek a re-election only after a four-year gap.

"We studied the International Olympic Council (IOC) regulation and they require their president to have a 12-year term in total, no more, and to retire at 70.

"Therefore, our NSF presidents can continue for 12 years even continuous. What more could we do?" Gill asked. Gill's question is important from the perspective as to how much time is required to make an impact in a particular field. Also, the age of upto 70 for people managing sports itself is questionable.

The Minister said the new regulation has the backing of all political parties and is in fact a softer version of the original 1975 guideline.

"On April 22, there was a full debate on my ministry in the Rajya Sabha and all parties, barring none, urged me to have the regulation to limit terms (of the sports administrators), this being the demand of the sports people and the public for long," Gill said.

"I studied the issue with my officers and gave a considered order which should be read and re-read for total understanding," he said.

Gill said all he did was to bring back an old regulation and in fact relaxed the norm to allow NSF presidents to continue for 12 years, instead of eight suggested by the original guideline.

"I have only restored the regulation of the Indira Gandhi government. For the sake of the federation office-bearers, I have in fact softened the regulation and it's milder than the 1975 direction," he said.

The Minister also pointed out that the regulation doesn't mean the NSF office-bearers who have overstayed have to vacate the positions right now.
"We have also made it clear in the order that no one is to be disturbed right now. Elected office-bearers can carry on with their term. The regulation will apply from future elections, as and when they occur," he said.

Apart from IOA President Suresh Kalmadi, the regulation seeks to end the more than a decade-old reign of VK Malhotra (archery), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (cycling), VK Verma (badminton), Captain Satish K Sharma (aero club) and B S Adityan (volleyball).

According to the regulation, Kalmadi, who has been at the IOA helm since 1996, can continue till the 2012 when the next election of the association takes place. However, Kalmadi has made noises about timing citing that this may hinder in preparations for 2010 Commonwealth Games. Apparently, there should not be any impact except that Mr Kalmadi would be worried about free lunches that come with such posts.

Later, speaking outside the Parliament, Gill said the new regulation will have no impact on the Commonwealth Games. "We have made it clear that all office bearers (sports bodies) continue their work and as and when future elections come which are mainly in 2012, 2013 and 2014, these regulations will apply," Gill said.
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