Saturday, June 27, 2009

Consortium chosen to build Commonwealth village

Glasgow City Council has named its preferred bidder for the construction of the athletes village for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the city.

A partnership know as the City Legacy Consortium looks set to get the go ahead for the development, when the council debates a report on the subject on Friday.

The village will house 6,500 competitors and officials during the games. Afterwards the athletes village will be transformed, and 765 more homes built on the 38.5 hectare Dalmarnock site, resulting in more than 1,400 new homes.

Of these, 300 will be for social rent, and 100 will be for intermediate rent. City Legacy said all the homes will be priced so they are achievable for first-time buyers, will be low rise, and energy efficient. It is also building a 120 bed care home on the site as part of the work.

The consortium is made up of a range of developers, planners, contractors and advisers. It includes CCG, Cruden, Mactaggart & Mickel, W H Malcolm, Davis Langdon LLP, Scottish and Southern Energy, RMJM, WSP Group, Turley Associates, Burness LLP, and JLL.

In a statement the group said: ‘This innovative project will not only showcase the new face of the east end of Glasgow to a world-wide audience during the Commonwealth Games, it will also transform Dalmarnock to become a much sought-after riverside residential area.’

Councillor Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: ‘The fact that the private sector has demonstrated such confidence in this project shows that Glasgow continues to be an attractive place to do business.’

Scottish sports minister Shona Robison described the announcement of the preferred bidder as ‘an important milestone’.

Glasgow City Council is putting forward the site for development, but will enter into a profit sharing arrangement with the developer at the end of the project. Work on the site is due to start next year, and work on the village is due to be competed six months before the start of the games in 2014.

Wales given Games cycling boost

Wales are likely to have Olympic gold medal-winning cyclists Geraint Thomas and Nicole Cooke available to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Next year's Games take place at the same time as the Road Cycling World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.
British Cycling coach Shane Sutton says Thomas should compete in Delhi, while hopes are also high over Cooke.
"I've no doubt Geraint will be on the start line either in the track and the road or just the road," Sutton said.
"Whether he comes back in for the road, I presume so.
"But if Geraint doesn't make the GB team for the World Road Championships, he'll beef up your [Wales] track squad as well as the road race.

"I couldn't say for sure, I'll sit down with the new coaching team we have at British Cycling and we'll make those decisions alongside the athlete.
"Once we get buy-in from Geraint we'll be able to let everybody know what his plan is.
"He's Welsh through and through. He wants to be there.
"The World Road Championships clashes with the [Commonwealth Games] track, which is difficult.
"But I'm very optimistic that Wales will be very strong on the track, they've got a good pool of riders and they'll be strong on the road as well."
Have your say on this news
Thomas, 22, is working his may back to full fitness after suffering a broken nose and a fracture of the ischiopubic bone in the groin.
The Beijing Olympics track gold medallist currently rides for Team Barloworld, but is tipped to join the new British-based Team Sky next year.
Cooke, the Olympic road race champion, competes for her own Vision 1 Racing team.
Both Welsh riders will be on home soil this weekend in the GB National Road Race Championships, which take place in Abergavenny in south Wales, where Cooke will be defending her title.
The competition will have a top-class field, with the likes of Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Emma Pooley and Lizzie Armitstead all expected to compete.

RMJM to design athletes village for Glasgow Commonwealth Games (fly-through)

RMJM has won the competition to design the £300 million athletes village for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The practice is working as part of the City Legacy consortium which includes developers and contractors Campbell Construction, W H Malcolm, Cruden, and Mactaggart & Mickel; project manager Davis Langdon; engineer WSP Consulting and planning consultant Turley Associates.

The consortium beat three other shortlisted teams, including one working with Broadway Malyan, and another working with Ian Simpson Architects, Reiach & Hall Architects, Murray Dunlop Architects, Nord Architecture and Elder & Cannon Architects.

The village will accommodate 8,000 athletes and officials during the event. After the games, further housing will be built on the 38.5 ha site, with the athletes' accommodation refurbished to create family housing. In total there will be 1,400 homes on the site and a 120-bed care home for the elderly.

Construction is expected to start in autumn 2010.

A spokesman for the consortium said: "This innovative project will not only showcase the new face of the east end of Glasgow to a worldwide audience during the Commonwealth Games, it will also transform Dalmarnock to become a much sought-after riverside residential area.

"The proposals will act as a catalyst to create an excellent new neighbourhood with well-placed community facilities and attractive open spaces accessible to existing and new residents."

Scottish sports minister Shona Robison said: "The creation of the athletes village will sustain jobs, regenerate the east end of Glasgow and contribute towards Scotland's economic recovery as we build up to the launch of our plans to create a successful legacy from 2014 to benefit the whole of Scotland."

The news comes just a week after the practice was named as planning consultant on the delivery of key venues for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The practice will oversee the delivery of the athletes village, international broadcast centre, main press centre, international airport, uniform and accreditation centre and main logistics centre in India, where construction for the games has been troubled by delays and rising costs.

Search for Commonwealth showcase

A producer is being sought to create a "breathtaking vision" of Glasgow and Scotland at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Organisers of the 2014 games in Glasgow hope to showcase the country when the city formally receives the Commonwealth Games flag from India.

Glasgow 2014 Ltd is inviting tenders from "individuals, companies and consortia" to produce the show.

The Commonwealth flag will be handed over to Glasgow on 14 October 2010.

John Scott, chief executive of Glasgow 2014, said: "This is a unique opportunity for the very best in the creative industries to help to promote Glasgow and Scotland to the Commonwealth and world.

'Best talent'

"We're proud of Glasgow's strengths and its rich cultural, industrial and sporting legacy - and now is the time to celebrate and showcase the city's transformation into a modern, vibrant and stylish destination.

"At the handover ceremony in Delhi, the world will turn its attention to Glasgow and Scotland - and we want to ensure that the very best talent is at the forefront of promoting city, nation and the games.

"It is through their vision and direction that we will set the tone for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014."

Tenders are being invited from interested parties "from creative, cultural, arts, production, programming, advertising and events backgrounds".

Greens see red over DTC depot

Greens see red over DTC depot
24 Jun 2009, 0424 hrs IST, TNN
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NEW DELHI: A temporary bus depot being planned on the Yamuna riverbed close to the Commonwealth Games Village has met with stiff resistance from 

certain environment groups. Citing the L-G's moratorium on further construction activity on the riverbed, the group claimed that allowing even something temporary will open the gates for more such projects to come up on the floodplain. 

The depot will be developed by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) to park around 300 buses meant specially for the Games on a 6-acre area. It will be allotted to it by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on a temporary basis and will have to be vacated within a week of the end of the Games. The project, strangely, has been cleared by the L-G, though on the condition that no permanent construction is allowed at the site. 

"Even though they are saying that no pernamant structures will come up, the riverbed does not have the type of soil that will allow parking unless it is concretised. The point is, once the project is cleared, anything can be done there on the pretext of the Games. When there are alternative sites available in and around the Village, why is the riverbed being thrown open to this kind of activity? This will also set a bad precedence for other agencies who will all rush for so called temporary set-ups on the riverbed,'' said Manoj Misra, convenor, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan. 

However, DTC officials maintain that they will not be deviating at all from the conditions set out for the depot. "It is being allotted to us on a temporary basis so there is no question of us not vacating the place after the Games are over. Only bare minimum work will take place there that includes compaction of ground for parking, bringing in a CNG pipeline for fuelling and some temporary structures,'' said a senior DTC official. 

The conditions laid out for the temporary bus depot include no permanent construction, soft parking by compressing the earth or providing perforated paver blocks, temporary infrastructure that will be dismantled as soon as the Games are over, no servicing of vehicles on spot and that land will remain with DDA and will only be licensed to DTC till a week after the Games are over.

RMJM secures Glasgow games commission

Architects who helped to build the controversial Scottish parliament, which went over budget, have been chosen to design a £300m ($493m) athletes’ village for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Edinburgh-based RMJM, one of the UK’s biggest architectural practices, is part of the consortium named as preferred bidder for the complex, which will be one of Scotland’s largest regeneration projects.

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The development will house accommodation and facilities for up to 8,000 competitors and officials at Dalmarnock, a deprived community in the east end of Glasgow, near the banks of the Clyde. The village will provide 1,400 homes for sale and rent after the games. Work is due to begin at the end of next year.

RMJM collaborated with Enric Miralles, the Catalan architect, on the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh. The building ended up costing £430m – more than 10 times the initial estimates. An inquiry into the Holyrood saga by Lord Fraser, a Conservative peer, found there was no single “villain of the piece”, but criticised politicians for constantly changing specifications for the building.

Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow city council, said: “The athletes’ village will be one of the most recognisable aspects of the legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth Games – and certainly one of the most important.

“I look forward to the successful delivery of a key part of the games and, later, the creation of a stunning new neighbourhood for the city as Glasgow’s regeneration continues.” About 620 people will be employed in the development of the site. More than 90 jobs will be created and the project will employ 60 apprentices.

Glasgow city council will make the village site available to the City Legacy consortium at no cost to reduce borrowing requirements.

The developer will enter into a profit-sharing arrangement with the council at the end of the project.

Shona Robison, Scotland’s sports minister, said: “The creation of the athletes’ village will sustain jobs, regenerate the east end of Glasgow and contribute towards Scotland’s economic recovery as we build up to the launch of our plans to create a successful legacy from 2014 to benefit the whole of Scotland.”

RMJM has been awarded a contract at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi to be planning consultant for six venues. The group said its experiences with the Delhi games would help towards the design of a successful games village for Glasgow.

End of an era as Commonwealth Pool gets ready for refurbishment

OR nearly 40 years it has been home from home for many, but Sunday will see the end of an era at Edinburgh's "Commie Pool" as it closes its doors for a two-year refurbishment.
The Royal Commonwealth Pool, opened in January 1970 by Princess Anne, has hosted two Commonwealth Games, a flock of penguins and generations of Edinburgh residents.

The penguins may have been a one-off – they were being filmed for a BBC documentarADVERTISEMENT

y in 1983 – but for swimmers and staff who pass through its doors on a regular basis the pool has become a part of everyday life.

Of 101 staff working at the pool before the closure, Edinburgh Leisure has found alternative jobs for the vast majority, although two have taken redundancy and Edinburgh Leisure says it is still looking for new roles for another three.

Among those heading off for a new job is Cluny Scott, 38, who was one of the first tots to take part in the pool's classes for parents and children – and who now teaches the sessions himself.

Mr Scott, who lives in Tollcross, will be working at several different pools around the Capital during the closure, but said he would miss the Commie 

He said: "I suppose my first memories of it probably came when I was about six or seven and I remember the sheer size and scale of the place – it's like a cathedral. When you're such a wee person its quite awe-inspiring."

He took swimming lessons at the Commie and other Edinburgh pools throughout his childhood, and three years ago began teaching there full-time, with pupils aged from four months to up to adulthood.

He said: "I love the diversity of the place, you've got all ages, and there's a sense of community – for such a big place it does have a beating heart. 

"It's such a big part of people's lives – it's like an old friend, really," he said.

Also part of the pool's history – and no doubt its future – are the Heatly family. Triple Commonwealth gold medal-winner Sir Peter Heatly was the first person to dive from the pool's boards before they opened to the public. 

His grandson, James, 12, is now Scottish junior champion on the three metre board and a member of the Edinburgh Diving Club, which is based at the Commonwealth Pool. The club will relocate to Newbattle Swimming Pool during the closure – although they will have to travel to England to jump from the highest boards.

James' mum Debs said: "As a mum of a child that wants to do a sport, the pool has meant everything. I think a lot of people are realising how much they've taken the facilities of the Commonwealth pool for granted now."

The refurbishment plans include a 25-metre teaching pool with a moveable floor and a boom across the 50-metre pool enabling it to split into two separate pools.

There will also be a 25-metre diving pool with movable floor and a dry land training area for divers. The gym will be expanded and changing areas updated. 

The pool will close on Sunday with a day of special events including an aqua party, free coached diving sessions and free activities at the Clambers play centre.

For more information see


Swimmers are being directed to Edinburgh Leisure's nine other pools around the city: Ainslie Park, Dalry, Drumbrae, Glenogle, Gracemount, Leith Victoria, Portobello, Queensferry High and Warrender.

Classes will be moved to Portobello Swim Centre, Leith Academy and Braidburn School.

Classes and equipment have relocated to Meadowbank Sports Centre.

Classes will move to Meadowbank Sports Centre.

The music and movement group moves to Meadowbank and the Crags Sports Centre.

Softplay will be available at Meadowbank, EICA:Ratho, and Leith Waterworld. However, a brand new soft play area for children up to six will be installed at Craiglockhart Tennis Centre.

Bajaj Electricals close to completing Delhi project

The Rs 1,700-crore Bajaj Electricals, which had secured an order to upgrade street lighting on important arterial roads and stadiums in Delhi, is providing finishing touches to the contract. The objective of the exercise is to give the Capital a facelift in preparation for the Commonwealth Games next year.

Anant Bajaj, Executive Director, said a major portion of the Rs 52-crore order was complete and the entire job would be finished in three months.

"We are also close to bagging a Rs 4.3-crore order in Chennai from an information technology company. I cannot divulge its name as we have not received the letter of intent yet," he said.

Bajaj Electricals has also secured a Rs 143-crore transmission line transformer (TLT) work order from the Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company. Its order book in the TLT segment alone is around Rs 400 crore.

Rural power connections

The company is providing power connections, under the rural electrification project, for below-the-poverty-line households. Nearly five lakh BPL homes are to be covered under the Government programme in Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.

"The first phase of the project to provide electricity to 40,000 houses in Champa, Chhattisgarh is scheduled for completion in July," Bajaj said. Of the Rs 400-crore orders to extend power to rural households, Bajaj Electricals has executed Rs 40 crore worth business so far.

While the company has earmarked projects worth Rs 1,000 crore for completion this fiscal, it expects large orders to flow in with more Government spend on infrastructure. The company has commissioned a greenfield facility in Nashik to make compact fluorescent lamps.

"Last fortnight, we ran a trial run of the production line at a speed of 2,400 an hour and plan to increase output to 40 million units by 2010," Bajaj said.

The market for compact fluorescents grew from Rs 7 crore in 2000 to Rs 20 crore in 2008. Though the general lighting service market size is about Rs 750 crore, compact fluorescents are fast catching up, he said.

"Our conversion rate of tenders translating into orders is 20 per cent compared to our competitors' 10-15 per cent. By the end of this financial year, we hope to reach a turnover of Rs 2,100 crore from Rs 1,801 crore in 2008-09. This will largely be driven by the luminaires and engineering projects," Bajaj said.

Luminaires registered a turnover of Rs 287 crore last fiscal while engineering projects clocked Rs 541 crore. Bajaj Electricals has a tie-up with German-based Trilux for the luminaires division. It has a pact with Italy-based Disano for medium-range lighting solutions.

Ajmer academy gears up for the Games

AJMER: Eyes-catching scenes of bats hitting the ball in all directions in fractions of a second by children as young as 10-year-olds day in and 

day out have become a common sight now-a-days at the National Petroleum Academy here. The academy is polishing the talents and preparing refined table tennis players for the upcoming Commonwealth Games that would held in New Delhi next year. 

At a national-level camp being organized here to select and train the players, children are being guided by the best coaches of country and abroad. It is heartening to observe that more and more girls are coming out to learn the game and compete at international arena. 

Mool Chand Chowhan, former director of International Table Tennis Federation, established the National Table Tennis Academy here. "Arjun awardee Sondeep Roy and dozens of other players graduated from here have made their presence felt in the international TT tournaments," said Chowhan. 

With changing times, sports in the country too is getting hi-tech and better facilities are being installed for training now-a-days. He said that the academy will provide accommodation to the Commonwealth Games participants. At present, Chowhan is the vice-president of Indian Olympic Association and vice-chairman of Accommodation Committee of Commonwealth Games 2010. 

Eighty-two-year-old Chowhan has a glorious track record in the field all through his life and remains head of various international organizations. "My motto is to provide international facilities to the players of India. We have no scarcity of talents but needed polishing," said Chowhan.

Qutub Minar-Gurgaon metro rail link gets boost

NEW DELHI: The metro rail link from Qutub Minar to Gurgaon is expected to be operational before the Commonwealth Games next year with the 

government on Thursday approving transfer of a stretch of defence land to the DelhiMetro Rail Corporation (DMRC). 

A meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, gave its nod to transfer 2929 square metres of air force land at Arjangarh to the DMRC for the purpose. 

"By virtue of the transfer of land, the nation will have a metro rail system network from Qutub Minar to Gurgaon before the Commonwealth Games," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said. 

The transfer of land would take place at an inter-departmental rate of Rs 22 lakh per acre and the DMRC would recreate the IAF assets at an alternate site, she said. 

Noting that there was heavy traffic congestion on this route, Soni said the people of Delhi, Haryana and the National Capital Region would benefit from the project. 

She said the DMRC has been considering this route for "quite some time" and has already started the preliminary stages of work. The metro link route was earlier facing problems with the Archaeological Survey of India, which has now been sorted out.

Demand to scrap networks' first-pick rights to TV sport

FREE-TO-AIR television networks should have their "first pick" rights to major sports events curtailed or abolished because of the unnecessary costs they impose on pay-TV operators and major sports.

A key economic adviser to government has recommended a rethink of the longstanding "anti-siphoning" rules aimed at maximising free TV coverage of major sports, ahead of Canberra's review of the scheme.

In a draft report out today, the Productivity Commission has slammed the list of sports offered first to free-to-air networks as "inherently anti-competitive".

"The anti-siphoning list appears to be unnecessary to meet the objectives of wide consumer access to sports broadcasts (it may actually reduce consumer access to sports broadcasts)," its latest annual review of regulatory burdens on business concludes. "Further, it imposes substantial regulatory burdens and competitive disadvantages on subscription television networks. The option to abolish the anti-siphoning regime should be explored."

The current regime covers key events such as the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Melbourne Cup as well as cricket, tennis, basketball, soccer, golf, motorsport, AFL, rugby union and rugby league fixtures.

But it has come under fire from sports bodies, pay-TV operators and audiences because of the advantage it hands to the major networks and their hoarding of events they are not prepared to broadcast.

The major TV networks defend the system as a way of protecting people's rights to watch their favourite sports events for free. But even they are lobbying for change to some of the anti-siphoning provisions, which require them to air the listed sports on their main channel before they broadcast it on their second, digital channels.

The federal government has promised to review the rules this year.

In March, the Ten Network outraged South Australian football fans by deciding against showing the AFL's season-opening game live because it clashed with the high-rating The Biggest Loser. It was prohibited from airing the game live on its One network by the anti-siphoning rules.

The government has "use it or lose it" rules in place to try to force the big networks to broadcast the sports events they have preferential access to.

However, the Productivity Commission said their effect remained unclear and it backed a more formal trigger to delete from the list events not actually shown on free-to-air.

It has also called on Canberra to strip the "seemingly arbitrary" anti-siphoning list back to top events such as finals, as an interim measure, while the option of scrapping the system entirely is considered.

Weigersma on track for next year

Natalie Wiegersma is on track for her 2010 Commonwealth Games goal after the Southland swimming star returned on Wednesday from a successful trip to the United States.

Wiegersma and fellow Southlanders Lisa Pankhurst and Adam MacDonald had been in the United States competing in two meets.

The Southlanders showed their commitment yesterday by fronting up at Splash Palace in Invercargill just over 24 hours after returning from the US.

The trip was a Swimming Southland initiative set up through their high-performance funding in an attempt to give the promising trio exposure on the international stage.

Swimming Southland officials felt it was needed because New Zealand Swimming did not provide an avenue like this for promising swimmers.

In the final meet during the stay, the TYR Swim Meet of Champions in Mission Veitjo, Wiegersma won the 200m and 400m individual medleys.

She also broke the meet record in the 200m individual medley and recorded a personal best in the 200m freestyle, also breaking the Southland open record.

Wiegersma's coach Jeremy Duncan who also travelled with the swimmers said the international experience in recent weeks was a good gauge.

"This tour has given her a good measure of where she is placed in the world leading into the Commonwealth Games next year and what she must do to bridge the gap between now and then to be competitive."

Duncan said the qualifying times for the Commonwealth Games hadn't yet been released but was confident Wiegersma was going fast enough to line up in New Delhi next year.

Duncan said Pankhurst and MacDonald also benefited from competing in the meets overseas. McDonald stepped up in Mission Veijo, recording personal bests in the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly, while also breaking the Southland records.

The results are a huge boost as the Southland Boys' High School pupil prepares himself to head to Australia on July 4 for a three-meet trans-Tasman series.

Pankhurst was probably the best of the three as far as improvements on personal bests went in the US, the Southland coach said yesterday.

Duncan hoped to carry out a similar tour next year, highlighting the Invercargill Licensing Trust's contribution to the sport as the key reason they had been able to provide their promising young swimmers with the experience.

Warnock aims for Commonwealth spot

MUSSELBURGH’s Sarah Warnock is targeting a berth in the Scottish Commonwealth Games team after claiming silverware in both the long jump and triple jump at the National Track and Field Championships at Pitreavie last weekend.

The talented 18-year-old, a former Scottish schools champion, recorded a distance of 5metres 73cm at the long jump on Saturday and 11metres 44cms at the triple jump on Sunday.

Delhi in India will host the Games in 2010.

Mean-while, Lauren Peffers, from Dunbar, reached the final of the women’s 800m and finished fourth in 2minutes 13.14 seconds after clocking 2m 12.99s in her heat.

Guy Learmonth from Dunbar won his heat of the 800metres in 1m 57.98s but failed to progress to the final.

But the highlight of the Championships in many ways was the interest in Oscar Pitorius – the South African ‘Blade Runner’ as he has become known.

A double amputee who runs on artificial legs finished third in the final of the 200m in 22.2 seconds.

At the annual Portobello four- mile run on Thursday evening two county runners excelled, with 17-year-old Andrew Chrichton (DRC) running his sixth race in as many days and winning comfortably in 20mins 48secs and Colin Menzies (LAC) from Haddington finishing fourth in 21m 53s.

Dunbar Running Club veteran duo Ian Sills and Stuart Hay finished 14th and 15th respectively in 23m 04s and 23m76s, while Steve Pattison (DRC) was 33rd in 25m 30s and held off HELP’s Sandy Wallace 35th (25m 54s).

Full results can be found on the SAL and Portobello RC web sites.

Sandy Wallave was HELP’s only competitor in the Eildon 2 Hills race on Saturday finishing in 39m 22s and John Hughes(HELP) took part in the 22 mile Lairig Ghru race on Saturday, and finished in 68th place in 5hrs 33m 5s.

On Sunday Brian Marshall (HELP) finished 5th in the Edinburgh Seven Hill Race in 1hr 48m 8s. Bill Watson, along with his 15-year-old daughter Katie, completed the challenge event in 3hrs 17m 14s.

East Lothian athletes take on Midlothian, West Lothian and Edinburgh in the first of this years meetings at Meadowbank Stadium on Sunday.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lee McConnell: I could retire before Glasgow 2014

SCOTS track queen Lee McConnell last night revealed she will turn her back on an emotional Glasgow finale in 2014 if she believes she's no chance of winning a medal.

McConnell considered walking away from athletics after her Olympic ordeal last year when injury cruelly flared up just before she was due to run in the 4x400m relay.

The lure of running in London in three years prompted a change of heart but there will be no U-turn if the 30-year-olhas lost her pace when the Commonwealth Games arrive in her home city five years from now.

McConnell, speaking at the launch of the Great Scottish Run supported by Lloyds TSB and Bank of Scotland, said: "I haven't set a date for retirement but I want to run in the 2012 Olympics.

"That is the time when I am going to have to assess where my body is and if I am going to stay injury-free. The next thing will be Glasgow but all I can do is go to 2012 and see if I want to do that.

"I just don't want to go there and go out in the heats - I want to be running well in front of my home crowd and really be in contention for a medal.

"If I'm not then I might try to get involved in some capacity."

McConnell hit the nightclubs for one month after returning from Beijing.

But while that lifestyle has destroyed the careers of many great sporting heroes it actually saved the Glaswegian from the scrapheap.

McConnell said: "What happened in Beijing has been fuelling my desire but I am going to be scarred for life about that.

"It was really, really hard and I don't think people can understand it.You need time to reassess things after that.

"Going out for a month and partying got my head right.

"My friends, family and coach are a great support and helped me get back on track."

Help Glasgow fly the flag in Delhi

A HUNT has been launched for top creative talent to give a breathtaking showcase of Glasgow and Scotland at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The closing ceremony of next year's sporting extravaganza will mark the handover of the Commonwealth flag to Glasgow, which is hosting the event in 2014.

Members of the Glasgow 2014 organising committee want to ensure the city and Scotland are shown to the world in the best possible light.

They have formally started the search for an individual or organisation to come up with a concept that will inspire the millions watching the closing ceremony in the Indian capital.

John Scott, chief executive of Glasgow 2014, said: "We are proud of Glasgow's strengths and its rich cultural, industrial and sporting legacy - and now is the time to celebrate and showcase the city's transformation into a modern, vibrant and stylish destination.

"At the handover ceremony in Delhi, the world will turn its attention to Glasgow and Scotland and we want to ensure the best talent is at the forefront of promoting city, nation and the Games."

London's acceptance of the Olympic flag from Beijing last year involved an iconic red London bus, which unfolded into a stage where Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Leona Lewis performed Whole Lotta Love, watched by England football star David Beckham.

The Glasgow organising committee will consider individuals, companies and groups from creative, cultural, arts, production, programming, advertising and events backgrounds.

Expressions of interest must be received by July 16 and invitations to tender will be sent on July 27.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games will be the biggest multi-sports event Scotland has hosted.

More than 6000 athletes and officials from 71 countries will travel to the city to compete in 17 different sports in 13 venues over 11 days in July and August.

With a budget of £373million, the Commonwealth Games are expected to bring significant sporting, economic and social benefits to Glasgow and Scotland.

Games 2010: Govt allots land at power plants for DTC buses

New Delhi The Delhi government has made a temporary allotment of 13 acres of land at the Rajghat power plant and 16 acres at the Indraprastha power plant, to the Delhi Transport Corporation to set up parking lots for the Commonwealth Games scheduled to be held in October 2010. Both parking lots will be exclusively for DTC buses.

Since Rajghat and Indraprastha are both thermal power plants, the land is currently used as an ash pond — a reservoir for the residue of the coal burnt to generate power. “Fly ash is useful for cement manufacturers since it an important raw material. We can dispose it by giving the residue to cement manufacturers. They will have to pay the transportation cost but as of now we have not fixed any charge for the raw material. This will leave the land free. Hence, the decision to use it as a parking lot,” a senior power department official explained.

Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta recently inspected the plots and has given DTC the go-ahead on construction. “This area will be a traffic hub during the Games. The Indira Gandhi Stadium, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the velodrome and the Commonwealth Games Village are all in the vicinity. These two spots can be ideal parking lots. I have given the DTC 12 months to complete the project,” Mehta told Newsline.

Mehta also added the two parking lots, combined with another at the Games village site, will provide space for up to 750 DTC buses.

The government is hoping to have a fleet of 1,500 low-floor buses by the time the Games roll.

“We need buses for the movement of spectators and Games personnel. There will also be special buses for the VIP traffic,” he explained. Officials said the parking lots may be used for VIP cars as well.

While the allotment is temporary, at least one of the parking lots may become a permanent structure.

“The Indraprastha power plant is set to be phased out by December 2009. It is possible the parking lot at this site will be allowed to continue. Since there is need for parking space in the ITO area, this may prove helpful,” a power official said.

Preferred bidder announced for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games village

City Legacy Consortium has been chosen as preferred bidder to build the Athletes Village for the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Dalmarnock in the East End of Glasgow by Glasgow City Council.
The City Legacy consortium comprises
- Developers and contractors, CCG, Cruden, Mactaggart & Mickel, and W H Malcolm
- Bid Management, Project Management and Cost Management, DavisLangdon LLP
- Masterplanners and Design Champions, RMJM
- Engineers, WSP Group Plc
- Community Benefit and Town Planning advice, Turley Associates
- Legal advisors, Burness LLP
- Utilities infrastructure and sustainability, Scottish and Southern Energy
- Property Development advice, JLL
Work is planned to begin next year and will be completed six months before the Games start in 2014.
The planned mix of 700 riverside homes incorporates a diverse range of sizes and types of properties that will be important in creating a balanced community and will aid sales of the homes. 300 of these homes will be for sale, with 300 being provided for social housing and a further 100 for mid market rent.
After the Games, City Legacy will construct a further 765 additional homes. The riverside site will include an urban beach, as well as supervised play spaces. The homes will be low rise, with many energy efficient features resulting in a minimum 60% carbon emission reduction.

Budget increased for completion Delhi Commonwealth Games of venues

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Delhi government has significantly increased its budget to complete venues for next year's Commonwealth Games in a positive response to criticism over construction delays, domestic media reported on Tuesday.
The regional administration has allotted an extra 9 billion rupees ($184 million) for the Oct 3-14 event in its annual budget presented on Monday, The Hindu daily reported.
The administration and Games organising committee have been blamed for the tardiness in the completion of venues, which also forced the world badminton championships to be shifted from the capital to Hyderabad.
Delhi has allotted 21.05 billion rupees ($431.4 million) for completing projects for the multi-sports gathering, with around half the sum coming from the federal coffers.
Meanwhile, local authorities, keen to spruce up New Delhi and attract more tourists when the Games are held, planned to clear the streets of beggars and would introduce mobile courts to punish those caught, the paper said.
Consultants would advise on the landscape around games venues while rickety public transport buses are being replaced by new ones in the sprawling city of over 14 million people.
(Reporting by N.Ananthanarayanan; Editing by John O'Brien; To comment on this story email

Games village developer unveiled

The athletes' village will provide homes for sale and rent after the games
Glasgow City Council has named the consortium which it wants to build the athletes' village for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
City Legacy - including architect RMJM, which designed the Scottish Parliament - is the preferred bidder for the 38.5 hectare site in Dalmarnock.
The development would provide accommodation and facilities for 6,500 competitors and officials.
The village will provide 1,400 homes for sale and rent after the games.
Work is due to begin on the village at the end of next year.
About 620 people will be employed in the development of the site. More than 90 new jobs will be created, and the project will employ 60 apprentices.
The creation of the athletes' village will sustain jobs, regenerate the east end of Glasgow and contribute towards Scotland's economic recovery
Shona RobisonSports Minister
Glasgow City Council is expected to approve the choice of the developer at a meeting on Friday.
Council leader, Steven Purcell, said: "The athletes' village will be one of the most recognisable aspects of the legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth Games - and certainly one of the most important.
"I look forward to the successful delivery of a key part of the games, and later, the creation of a stunning new neighbourhood for the city as Glasgow's regeneration continues.
"The construction of the athletes' village will create fantastic opportunities for local people and businesses to show the world what Glasgow can do."
Sports Minister Shona Robison said: "This is an important milestone and shows we remain on track towards delivering an outstanding Commonwealth Games.
"The creation of the athletes' village will sustain jobs, regenerate the east end of Glasgow and contribute towards Scotland's economic recovery as we build up to the launch of our plans to create a successful legacy from 2014 to benefit the whole of Scotland."
Glasgow City Council will make the village site available to City Legacy at "nil cost" in order to reduce borrowing requirements.
The developer will then enter into a profit-sharing arrangement with the council at the end of the project.
When the games are over, the site will be redeveloped to include 1,100 private homes and about 300 for rent.
There will also be a 120-bed social work care home for the elderly.
Preparatory work on the site is expected to begin later this year with construction scheduled to start in autumn 2010.
City Legacy is made up of the following partners:
CCG, Cruden, Mactaggart & Mickel, and W H Malcolm (developers and contractors);
Davis Langdon LLP (bid, project and cost management) and RMJM (masterplanners and design champions);
WSP Consulting (Engineers) and Turley Associates (community benefit and town planning advice); and
Burness LLP (legal advisors), Scottish and Southern Energy (utilities infrastructure and sustainability) and JLL (property development advice).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Best Western plans 15 new franchisee properties in India

NEW DELHI: Best Western Hotels, world’s leading hotel chain providing marketing, reservations and operational support to over 4,000
independently-owned and operated member hotels in 80 countries, plans to establish 15 new franchisee properties in India by the end of 2009. Keeping the Commonwealth games in mind, the hotel chain has decided to focus on North India in its expansion plans.

Managed by Cabana Hotel Management Pvt Ltd, the hotel chain already has 11 hotels under its banner in India. According to the hotel, the transparent and unique franchising model of Best Western Hotel will aid it in becoming the largest international hotel chain in the country.

Sudhir Sinha, president & COO, Best Western India, said the management would be establishing both the brands -- ‘Best Western’ and ‘Best Western Premier’ -- in India.

The franchisee model will offer Best Western India partners an opportunity to work with an international brand through which they will be able to access the Best Western chain’s global 4,200 hotel reservation network across the world. Rated as the world’s strongest brand in 2008 by MKG Hospitality, the leading market research and consulting company for the hotel & tourism industry, “the Best Western franchisee model offers one of the world’s most open and beneficial synergistic benefits to its members,” Sinha said.

The chain is making aggressive plans to expand its network in North India keeping an eye on the Commonwealth Games, which will see a large number of bookings coming its way through its international LYNX reservations network, managed at the US, Italy, and the Philippines. The Indian franchisee will also get support from 22 global sales offices aggressively marketing properties to corporate and travel agencies.

“We plan to provide the Best Western experience of hospitality and comfort to all our international patrons coming to India during the Commonwealth games,” Sinha said.

Austar, Foxtel agreement on winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games

Under the sales agency deal announced today, the Vancouver winter Olympic Games will be showcased across four dedicated channels, 24-hours a day for all 17 competition days.

Austar has also reached an agreement with Foxtel to broadcast on multiple dedicated channels the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October 2010.

Austar CEO, John Porter, said today the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, on air from 12 February to 1 March 1, would be broadcast on four dedicated channels themed on the geographic locations of the competition that will take place in those regions.

Porter said more than 1,500 hours of athletic competition would be broadcast in total, including for the first time live, every competing Australian, every gold medal event, and every session of competition broadcast from start to finish.

According to Porter, the deal with Foxtel would showcase the “vast potential of subscription television,” and, he added "Australians love their sport and none more so than those living in regional parts of the country, and the Olympic Games offers the very best athletes from around the world competing over an intense 17 day period.”

Porter said that, in previous Olympic Games, Australians had not been able to see the full range of athletic competition, including many significant Australian moments.

“With this new deal, the four dedicated, non-stop channels will ensure that you don’t need to miss a thing.”

And, Porter also says that in October in Delhi, Austar will be able to build on what is offered in Vancouver “as the time difference means that so much of the action will be able to be watched as it happens live to Austar subscribers on multiple channels.”

Austar says it will offer customers the full suite of Vancouver 2010 channels for a one-off ‘early-bird’ cost of $50, for a limited time.

BJP raps govt for reducing fund for MCD

NEW DELHI: The MCD-Delhi government tussle refuses to die down. On Tuesday, the budget session of the assembly saw much fireworks as the
Opposition slammed the ruling party for "politicizing'' the budget.

Terming the reduced amount of fund allocated to the civic body as an attempt to politicise the issue, senior BJP leader Jagdish Mukhi said the government was "duty-bound'' to allocate a substantial amount of funds to the MCD.

"The government is duty-bound to allocate funds to the MCD as per rules of the Delhi Finance Commission,'' said Mukhi, adding that by refusing to allot the requested amount, the government was failing to do its duty.

Criticizing the government for using the budget to "promote its own agenda'', Mukhi cited the decreasing allocation over the years as proof. "Since 2007, the government has been decreasing funds to the MCD even as it has increased the amount for NDMC. This year, it has further cut the amount, proving that Congress is politicizing the budget,'' added Mukhi. The remark drew censure from the treasury benches, especially finance minister AK Walia, who denied the charge, claiming funds had been allocated as per project specifications.

Even the Commonwealth Games 2010 allocation came in for protests from the Opposition, with BJP saying all the development was taking place in east Delhi. Claiming that the Commonwealth Games shouldn't happen at the cost of the development of the rest of the city, the BJP said that it was disheartening that development was taking place only in one area, an indirect reference to the CM, whose son Sandeep Dikshit is the east Delhi MP.

Censuring the government for not allocating enough funds for the welfare of the poor, especially in areas like agriculture and rural development, the Opposition added that the only relief had been to the richer sections, with the government proposing to slash the luxury tax on hotels

City Legacy consortium picked for Commonwealth Village

The City Legacy consortium has been selected as the preferred developer of the £300m Commonwealth Games Village in Glasgow. The village is being built for the 2014 games which will be held in the city’s east end.

The consortium is being led by developer CCG, housebuilder Mactagget & Mickel and construction firm, The Malcolm Group. The masterplan has been created by RMJM and the consortium also includes the WSP Group and Scottish and Southern Energy. The consortium was advised by Jones Lang LaSalle.

The development of the 95-acre site in Dalmarnock will eventually provide 1,465 homes and a 120-bed care home for the elderly. The first 700 homes will be constructed in time for the games and will accommodate 6,500 competitors and officials. The remaining homes and care home will be built after the games.

It beat off competition from two other consortia – the PPD Consortium, which was led by local developer Progress Property Developments alongside Mace and Caledonian Building and The Gladedale Consortium, which was led by Gladedale, Bellway Homes and the Citta Property Group.

Councillor Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: ‘The fact that the private sector has demonstrated such confidence in this project shows that Glasgow continues to be an attractive place to do business, and I look forward to the successful delivery of a key part of the Games and later, the creation of a stunning new neighbourhood for the city as Glasgow’s regeneration continues.'

Preferred bidder announced for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games village

City Legacy Consortium has been chosen as preferred bidder to build the Athletes Village for the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Dalmarnock in the East End of Glasgow by Glasgow City Council.

The City Legacy consortium comprises

- Developers and contractors, CCG, Cruden, Mactaggart & Mickel, and W H Malcolm

- Bid Management, Project Management and Cost Management, DavisLangdon LLP

- Masterplanners and Design Champions, RMJM

- Engineers, WSP Group Plc

- Community Benefit and Town Planning advice, Turley Associates

- Legal advisors, Burness LLP

- Utilities infrastructure and sustainability, Scottish and Southern Energy

- Property Development advice, JLL

Work is planned to begin next year and will be completed six months before the Games start in 2014.

The planned mix of 700 riverside homes incorporates a diverse range of sizes and types of properties that will be important in creating a balanced community and will aid sales of the homes. 300 of these homes will be for sale, with 300 being provided for social housing and a further 100 for mid market rent.

After the Games, City Legacy will construct a further 765 additional homes. The riverside site will include an urban beach, as well as supervised play spaces. The homes will be low rise, with many energy efficient features resulting in a minimum 60% carbon emission reduction.

Can’t clean up Yamuna before the Games, says Sheila

New Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday accepted in the Assembly that her government’s Yamuna Action Plan has been a failure and that the government will not be able to clean the river before the Commonwealth Games next October.

Apologising for the failure, Dikshit said the government would need another seven or eight years to clean the river. Till next year’s Games, the government will only concentrate on beautifying the riverbanks, not the river itself, according to Dikshit.

“Unfortunately, complicated technology is required for cleaning the river,” Dikshit said in the Assembly. “We have already spent several crores in the task (cleaning the Yamuna). The city’s population is increasing at a great speed and several lakh heads are added to the population every year, which also worsens sanitation condition and adds burden on the river.” Dikshit made the comments while replying to BJP MLA from Karol Bagh S P Ratawal.

In his speech, Ratawal said, “Delhi is responsible for polluting 80 per cent of the Yamuna, though only 2 per cent of the river flows through Delhi. The government has spent Rs 2,800 crore on cleaning it but there has been no result as yet.” He asked, “Will the government be able to clean the Yamuna ahead of the Commonwealth Games?”

The government had earlier spent money sending bureaucrats to Paris and London to study how those cities keep the Thames and Seine rivers, respectively, clean. But Dikshit said both rivers are very different from the Yamuna. She said the models used for cleaning these rivers cannot be replicated for Yamuna.

The government has roped in Engineers India Limited to install interceptor sewers along the Yamuna but the sewers are still only in the planning stage. The government also plans to construct 19 sewage treatment plants to ensure that the river gets relatively clean water.

Initiated by the Centre in 1993, the Yamuna Action Plan has been under fire for not cleaning even one cusec (cubic foot per second) water despite expenditures of over Rs 1,200 crore on the project. After the first clean-up plan did precious little for Yamuna, the government developed Yamuna Action Plan-II in December 2004. The second plan identified a few new cities in Uttar Pradesh that are seen as contributing to the river’s pollution. The project was scheduled for a November 2009 completion.

Fire officials plan smaller firefighting vehicles for Games

New Delhi After the introduction of motorbikes fitted with fire extinguishers in April, the Delhi Fire Service is now planning to introduce small cars and jeeps fitted with firefighting equipment that will be used for tackling emergency situations during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

As per the authorities, the idea behind using smaller vehicles is to cut down on the time taken by a fire tender to reach its destination. Officials believe smaller vehicles will result in “increasing operational capabilities” of the department and save precious time, as it will allow easier movement even during heavy traffic situations during the Games.

Even when introducing the motorbikes, officials had said the main purpose was to “reduce response time” by deploying them in fire-prone, congested areas like Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Old Delhi and Trans-Yamuna areas.

In May 1999, 57 people died in a fire that broke out in a chemical market in the congested Lal Kuan area - one of the biggest fire calamities witnessed in the Capital. A similar mishap occurred at Swadeshi Market in Sadar Bazar in December 2001.

Fire officials have pointed out that a primary reason for the magnitude and high casualty rate witnessed in these incidents is the inability of bigger fire tenders to reach the spots in time.

“The department is considering using smaller vehicles, like the Maruti Gypsy or small vans, instead of the regular tenders for tackling untoward incidents at or near Games venues,” said Chief Fire Officer R C Sharma. “We will take another month or so to take a final decision on the issue,” he said.

In April, the Delhi Fire Service had introduced a fleet of red Royal Enfield motorcycles fitted with fire extinguishers for congested areas. Modelled in the lines of the Malaysian fire and rescue department, these bikes are fitted with equipment based on the ‘Water Mist Technology’ that prevents the wastage of water, unlike traditional fire extinguishers, officials said. The bikes will also be used for firefighting inside the Games venues.

Officials added that all firefighting vehicles will be fitted with global positioning systems before the Games. New fire stations and control rooms will also be set up around all Games stadia and special training will be provided to personnel in charge of emergency operations to ensure maximum security.

Incidentally, in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, the Beijing fire brigade constructed several new fire stations apart from implementing a digital fire response system with help from Tsinghua University and other agencies. The system helps to pinpoint the location of the fire, chooses the best route for responders and dispatches firefighters. All 93 Olympics venues were equipped with this technology by the end of 2007.

Six New Delhi Metro Routes Proposed

The city may soon get six new Delhi Metro corridors. The Economic Survey for 2008-09 has listed the new corridors, of which three routes are similar to those suggested by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on the basis of the detailed project reports (DPRs) prepared for Phase III and Phase IV in the capital.

As proposed by the government, new Delhi Metro lines will get constructed from Rithala to Bawana via Barwala, Narela to Najafgarh via Bawana, Mundka to Delhi border via Gherva, Dwarka Sector 6 to Shahbad Mohammedpur, Jehangirpuri — Dhaula Kuan-Moolchand-Nehru Place-Kalindi Kunj and Jehangirpuri to Sagarpur.

“The new routes have been identified on the basis of commuter demand and population density. These are different from the routes proposed by Delhi Metro in their masterplan, which is based on a transportation demand study by RITES,” said an official.

Three of the proposed routes, however, are similar to the ones proposed in DMRC’s Metro masterplan. For instance, the survey has identified a Metro link from Rithala to Bawana via Barwala and DMRC’s phase III plan also has a Rithala-Barwana route. Also, the survey has proposed a Mundka-Ghevra-Delhi border route, while DMRC has plans to extend the Mundka line to Bahadurgarh in Phase III. The Jehangirpuri-Kalindi Kunj route proposed in the survey also finds similarity in DMRC’s proposed link from Mukundpur to Dhaula Kuan.

The other routes proposed by DMRC for Phase III, which are still awaiting the Delhi government nod, include links between Mukundpur to ISBT Sarai Kale Khan, Central Secretariat-Mandi House-Daryaganj-Welcome-Nawada, Rithala-Barwala, Airport link to Gurgaon Sector 48 to Sushant Lok, extensions in Badarpur, Faridabad and Ghaziabad proposed as part of Phase III. As planned, this will add another 114.67 km of Delhi Metro to the NCR.

As per the practice, the routes suggested by DMRC are submitted to the government for approval, and construction on the new lines begins only after that. There have been instances in the past where the government has made alterations to some of the suggested routes, and the decision of the government in such matters is considered final.

New Metro corridors

1. Rithala-Barwala-Bawana
Delhi Metro
2. Narela-Bawana-Najafgarh

3. Mundka-Gherva-Delhi border

4. Dwarka sector 6-Shahbad Mohammedpur

5. Jehangirpuri-Dhaula Kuan-Moolchand-Nehru Place-Kalindi Kunj

6. Jehangirpuri-Sagarpur

Monday, June 22, 2009

600 rooms ready so far ahead of 2010 Commonwealth Games

NEW DELHI: Amid doubts being expressed from various quarters about the availability of adequate number of hotel rooms for the Commonwealth Games 2010, the Bed and Breakfast Scheme launched in the capital has come as a ray of hope, providing around 600 rooms so far.
"We are monitoring the availability of sites for the Games in the National Capital Region -- in Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad. We are in constant communication with them (the states). It is under very close review," Union Tourism Secretary S Banerjee said here today.
He was responding to a question on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing dissatisfaction at the pace of preparations for the Games and whether his Ministry was confident of getting the necessary number of hotel rooms in place before 2010.
He said there has been a "good effect" of the Bed and Breakfast Scheme. "More than 200 units have been registered in Delhi alone, which means 600 rooms have been made available. This is equivalent to two new hotels," Banerjee said.
He said the issue of improving the tourism infrastructure nationwide was taken up at a day-long conference of state tourism secretaries.
Among the infrastructure needs that were identified are providing connectivity -- through air, rail and road, bridging the shortfall of hotel rooms and meeting the requirement of trained manpower for the tourism sector. Banerjee said there was a shortfall of around 1.5 lakh hotel rooms, out of which there was a shortage of one lakh in the budget category

Pompey disappointed at cancellation of Caribbean Games

Triple Olympian and 2002 Commonwealth Games 400 metres gold medalist Aliann Pompey has expressed her frustration at not being able to compete at this year’s inaugural Caribbean Games in Trinidad and Tobago next month, since it was cancelled.

Speaking with Stabroek Sport via telephone from New York, Pompey said that the event was part of her schedule and probably one of ‘the’ most important, since it would have given her a chance to compete in the Caribbean which was not often. She said also that the Caribbean Games would have played an integral part in her preparation for the August 15-23 World Championships scheduled to be held in Germany.

“I was really looking forward for the Caribbean Games because it’s a special event for me because I think bringing together some of the Caribbean world class athletes to compete against each other would have been remarkable,” Pompey said.

She further noted: “For long Ato Bolton was trying to put together a circuit where Caribbean athletes can come together because when you go to Europe, the European athletes get first preference, when you run in North America, their athletes get preference so it was time they put something in place so Caribbean athletes can meet, because today most of the world’s top athletes are from the Caribbean.”

Pompey suggested that it would be great if the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Commit-tees (CANOC) could find a replacement for the Games because of its significance, not only for her but for the entire Caribbean for the rare chance to see their athletes in action. The 30-year-old 400 metres specialist has brought tremendous pride and glory to her homeland with the most notable being her gold medal performance in the 2004 Commonwealth Games in England when she clocked 51.34 seconds.

However, Pompey was able to run her personal best at last year’s Olympic Games in Beijing when she did 50.93 seconds qualifying for the semi-finals in the event.

Looking at her performance this year, Pompey said it was not as good as she would have wanted but with continuous work it would get better.

This year Pompey ran 51.09 seconds in the 400 metres when she competed at the “Grande Prêmio Brasil Caixa/Governo do Pará de Atletismo” in Belém, Brazil on May 24, placing second to Bobby-Gaye Wilkins of Jamaica.

The former Manhattan College and NCAA All-American track star said her next meet would be in Bulgaria and then Ireland but she will still need to find a meet to fill the gap of the Caribbean Games.

An outbreak of the H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu) in the Twin Island Republic was cited for the cancellation of the Games by the authorities. However, it is not yet known whether they would put any alternative arrangement in place or wait until its next installment in 2013 in Cuba.

So far president of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) K.A. Juman Yassin has expressed his disappointment at the cancellation and stated that he was surprised.

Contacted on Friday, Minister of Sport Dr. Frank Anthony said that he did not yet have all the details surrounding the Caribbean Games cancellation but as soon as he could he would make an official statement.

The Caribbean Games was touted as the Caribbean Olympics since it would have brought together over 2,000 athletes, officials and media from 40 countries.

Rs 2105 crore for Commonwealth projects

New Delhi: Racing against time to complete the Commonwealth Games projects, the Delhi government today increased the budget allocation by over Rs 900 crores for the puprose.

The fund, which rose to Rs 2,105 crore in this year's budget as against Rs 1,189 crore last year, include Rs 1,000 crore additional central assistance, finance minister AK Walia today said in the assembly while presenting the budget.

The city government had earmarked Rs 461 crore for the purpose in 2007-08.

The money would be spent for targeted implementation of all projects related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, he said. These projects include construction of Tyagaraja Sports Complex, renovation and expansion of Chhatrasal, Talkatora and Shivaji Stadia and construction of a Training Indoor Stadium at Ludlo Castle.

The Delhi Jal Board will complete the construction of water treatment plant and sewage treatment plant at Commonwealth Games Village, he said.

The health department will set up a polyclinic at the Games Village. It will also establish medical centres in each venue and training centre. Besides, special units will be set up in various hospitals for the healthcare of participants.

The IT department will commission a dedicated secure communication network system for the games, Walia said.

The government has appointed consultants to suggest and design the landscapes around the games venues and intersections on all major roads connecting the venues.

The government will also construct eight flyovers and 23 road over-bridges or road under-bridges before the Commonwealth Games. New parking sites will be constructed while street lighting will get a makeover, Walia said.

Earlier, Union sports minister MS Gill had expressed concern over the slow pace of work on the Commonwealth Games projects.

I am absolutely determined to improve the condition of sports people: Gill

M.S. Gill, Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, is confident that the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi will be a landmark event.

The Union Cabinet Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, M.S. Gill, is confident that the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi will be a landmark event. In an interview to The Hindu, he spoke about the preparations for the Games, the steps taken to improve performance, and his efforts towards reforming the pension scheme.


On the Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games has to be the first priority because it’s a very huge venture. Naturally there’s a lot of concern and lot to do till the wedding is over. Once you engage the girl, there are long preparations in India till the last night before the baarat. Like I said in Beijing, I am Naseeruddin Shah in ‘Monsoon Wedding’.

The Games had been taken much earlier by Mr. Vajpayee. They were endorsed and continued obviously by the current Prime Minister and government. Three or four years had already gone. I can only talk from that period. And as I said the first day, I cannot discuss first principles.

My job is to make sure the bandobast is complete, the stadiums are ready. I have to make sure people get a good welcome, they have a good stay, and they leave with happy memories of India. Of course we should have a good performance in terms of medals.

Major stadiums

Seven major stadiums are being built by the Sports Authority of India through the CPWD. (Rs.) 1000 crores had been allocated and given to us, but I got it raised to (Rs.) 2460 crores. The cabinet did it without hesitation. Now that we have taken on this burden, funding cannot be a quibble. The only thing is the enhanced requirement I take that has to be looked at very carefully by financial experts. In this last year I’ve tried to put together a good, tight financial supervision arrangement.

When I came in there were problems with three stadiums. A minor one on swimming but still important. They wanted more lanes for practice but if we had to follow them we had to smash all the money spent, and start all over again. So I called everybody interested, and we found a solution agreeable to all.

The swimming pool is going on, there isn’t much of a problem. The second one was the shooting range (in) Tughlakabad. That also was stuck on some technical questions. I went immediately to Tughlakabad, and we spent the whole morning there, listening to everybody, all the arguments, and I got it done.

From that day the work started. There is no hitch now. It’s only how quickly we can catch up on lost time. The third is the cycling velodrome. There were arguments between world cycling and us and other federations, and when I went to Beijing for the Games, we had discussions there, and again we solved it. That is also on at full speed. All these seven stadiums are going to be completed by the end of the year. But cycling and shooting will go a month or two over.

There is one major item. Somehow, and I leave it at that, the Games Village is being built across the Yamuna and the stadium is here in Lodhi road. But I have to now deal with it as it is on my plate. I worked first with the Delhi government, I called all their people, went over what the possibilities were.

Three possibilities were there. I went over that, and the next day we got this thing, which had been pending for years, done. It’s being built at breakneck speed. But because it was so late it will stretch into May. But the engineers are confident now. To do these things, I believe more than men, you need systems. So the moment I came I set up a Commonwealth Games co-ordination committee. (Delhi Chief Minister) Sheila Dixit comes happily, (IOA President) Suresh Kalmadi comes. I believe wisdom does not come with seniority. We have an open meeting because anybody can have the better thought. And I’m willing to listen. Every meeting, we go over the minutes of the last time, action taken on each item, and then go forward. We hammer out decisions that are happily acceptable. There is no bulldozing anybody.

On improving performance

Whether you lose tournaments or win them, or standards don’t seem to be rising or even falling, the question is what can you do, what should you be doing? Sports has never been funded in a big way.

For the first time last year, I went to the Cabinet and they happily sanctioned (Rs.) 678 crores over two and a half years for coaching for the Commonwealth Games. Never has this kind of money been provided. And what are we doing? The moment we got that sanctioned, we asked the federations to hold trials and choose people.

Today 1300 of them are under intensive training. SAI has centres, Bangalore, Kolkata, Patiala, all over. They have 250 coaches. We are not stinging on foreign coaches. We are spending plenty of money in sending these people — the swimmers have just gone for 75 days at great cost to Europe. The money is there. The programmes needed are being done.

On monitoring money spent

(With regard to) monitoring, I have strengthened the Sports Authority of India. The Director General is an additional secretary level man, Mr. Sayan Chatterjee. Two joint secretary level chaps have been brought in for the first time.

I keep telling Sayan Chatterjee to tell these chaps, “Please go to camps.” Are they being coached? Is it being well run? Are they being kitted? Are they properly fed? I make sure these people go and are all the time on the ball. They had problems – buy it, tender it. Everybody is unhappy. There’s a simpler way. The best way is you know you are giving them Rs. 10,000 as an estimated cost.

And you know there are three or four types of track suits or kits that are worthwhile. Go there, take the Rs. 10,000, pay it, bring us the bill, bring us the kits, show the coach that you didn’t pocket the money and stay with the second-hand. In other words, we are trying to supervise the training as much as human beings can.

On pensions

Cricketers used to be poor when I was in college. I have been aware all my life that all sports people are in poverty. They get a pittance. Let’s leave alone cricket since it’s comfortable. But all the rest of them remain in the same condition.

The first thing I did, I doubled the pensions. P.T. Usha was getting Rs. 4000, what is this? To suddenly double everything is not a small thing. But more than that, I have said publicly, I don’t hesitate to speak out, to give P.T. Usha, OK I might say I doubled it, but is Rs. 8000 a pension? For a person of this level?

My intention

In this tenure, all I can do is tell you my intention. And my intention is absolute and determination is full, that I want to raise it, I often wildly say it, it’s my desire, it should be 20, 25, or 30,000.

You have won a medal at the highest level. Try even going there. In other words, the condition of sports people, I am absolutely determined to improve more and more.

There was a horrifying story, a woman wrote to me that her pension was getting over. Pension, in any job, is for life isn’t it? Here was a Ministry where the pension was three years or five years. I got around that also. Now all of them are going to get life-time pension. Many of them, I can give you the list, have got 35,000, 40,000, 50,000 arrears cheques. My simple message is I will go on pushing this.

Eye on Games, public transport gets boost

NEW DELHI: With Commonwealth Games a little more than a year away, improving transportation facilities continued to be high on the government's
agenda. Monday's budget was indicative of it with a whopping 31% of the total outlay, Rs 3,069 crore, allocated to this sector. Though no new projects were announced, the money was to be used to fund ongoing schemes like construction of Delhi Metro, procurement of 2,500 new DTC buses and building new flyovers, underpasses and rail overbridges.

In a scenario where the number of vehicles in Delhi was set to cross the 60 lakh mark, the move to encourage public transport would go a long way in easing congestion. The government announced that work on nine new Delhi Metro corridors was progressing on schedule. All the new lines, which will add another 185 km to the existing network, would be operational by October 2010.

Funds have also been allocated for 2,500 new DTC buses that will hit the roads before March next year. The purchase order for these buses has already been placed. The Union government agreed to partially fund 1,500 more buses for Delhi under JNNURM.

In addition to buses, funds have also been set aside for new road infrastructure projects like flyovers, underpasses, rail overbridges and road resurfacing. The construction of flyovers/ROBs is gaining pace at RR Kohli Marg, Shastri Nagar Pushta, Azadpur, BJ Marg-RTR Marg, Africa Avenue, Nelson Mandela Marg, Naraina and underpasses at ITO Chungi. Work on Barapullah Nallah Road and Salimgarh Bypass projects have also started. Further, an amount of Rs 111.61 crore has been released to MCD for construction of 17 ROBs to be completed before October 2010. Another Rs 80 crore has been released to MCD to develop a modern parking for the new DTC buses.

Govt nod for DTC parking on Yamuna flood plain

New Delhi The Delhi government has given the go-ahead for the construction of a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus parking next to the Commonwealth Games Village for 300 buses on the ecologically sensitive and moratorium-bound Yamuna flood plain. While Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna had earlier ordered a moratorium on any construction activity on the Yamuna flood plain, the government has given its clearance (falling in ‘Green Use Zone’) citing “security concerns”.

The Delhi Development Authority and Commonwealth Games Committee have decided that the parking area will be “temporary” and will have maximum activity of compressing the earth or providing perforated paving blocks, with setting up of “temporary infrastructure”. But environmentalists fear that ‘temporary’ structures often become ‘permanent’, and claim the permission is in contradiction to the protection given to the flood plain.

The Commonwealth Games Village itself was supposed to be a temporary structure but was later converted to a permanent one. In November last year, the Delhi High Court set up an expert committee under climate change leader R K Pachauri to assess constructions on the Yamuna flood plain.

Meanwhile, the government says the parking site, next to the abandoned Mayur Vihar pontoon bridge and parallel to the Noida link road, has been chosen as it is closest to the Games Village. “The Delhi Police approached us saying there were security concerns over the buses. The Games Village compound can accommodate only about 25-30 buses,” says Officer on Special Duty to L-G Ranjan Mukherjee. “But the L-G has specified that the parking area will be strictly temporary. This area will be used only for a period of two to three weeks for parking buses. There was no other land available for this. For practical purposes and security reasons, the buses should be as close as possible to the Games Village,” he says.

The environmentalists, however, differ. “There is a history of temporary constructions becoming permanent features, by some excuse or other. The DTC already has a huge depot at Mayur Vihar. Why can’t that be used? This particular area falls under the flood plain which the government says it is trying to protect,” says Manoj Misra from Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan. The group has also written a letter to the L-G. “We have asked the L-G to review his decision. We have also suggested that other vacant land in Mayur Vihar may be utilised for the purpose,” Misra says.