Monday, June 22, 2009

Wall up Games: Security firm

New Delhi With security topmost on its mind, the Commonwealth Games Federation has suggested that a wall, nine-feet high, be built around all Games venues.

The idea has been mooted by the Federation’s security advisors, Australian firm Intelligent Risk (IR).

The recommendation was put forward at a meeting this Wednesday between representatives of the Federation — or the London-based umbrella body that oversees the Games — its Indian arm, the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, and all other agencies involved in this mega event. On the agenda was the safety of athletes.

While the Federation insists that the nine-feet or 2.8-metre high wall is the “minimum security requirement”, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), in this case the executing agency, thinks these walls will ruin the structural aesthetics of the Games venues.

A CPWD official said: “Safety is the top priority of all agencies involved in the Games. That will not be compromised. There are certain factors that, however, need to be kept in mind before a proposal can be floated.” He was quick to add: “We are just the executing agency. We will build an eight-feet high wall if told to do so. If the mandate is ten feet, we shall build that too. Though nothing has been finalised yet, the question remains: Is this recommendation of aesthetic value?”

One of the key agencies responsible for security is IR. It is understood that this Australian firm floated the idea of the boundary walls around all CWG stadiums — the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Talkatora stadium, Indira Gandhi stadium, Major Dhyan Chand stadium, Shivaji stadium and the Karni Singh Shooting Range.

The Federation and the Organising Committee, however, refused to share details. Chief Executive Officer of the CWG Federation Michael Hooper said: “IR makes periodical checks and submits its recommendations. I then put them forward to the Organising Committee and other agencies. Sharing any information will not be advisable, but I can assure the recommendations are made only to ensure maximum safety of athletes.”

IR has been the Games’ security advisors for several years. It has worked with the Delhi 2010 Organising Committee to ensure that security and operations meet specific requirements. As part of an agreed programme on capability building, they recently completed a review of the security design and planning for all venues — competition and non-competition. All of IR’s review reports are sent to the Home Secretary, the Commissioner of Delhi Police, the CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation and the CWG Organising Committee. In April, this firm had also reviewed the security overlay for the Games in the Capital, including the ‘venue security planning’ and ‘transport security planning’. It had noted that the arrangements were on track.

According to the Organising Committee, IR is scheduled to visit Delhi eight more times between now and October 2010 to give an “independent overview” of the work undertaken.

The ir portfolio
* IR had conducted the review of security and emergency management planning for the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) in Pune last year.
* IR was contracted to advise the Chinese government on various aspects of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
* The firm has completed a number of contracts for forthcoming events like the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

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