India rushes to meet CWG deadlines, PM holds meeting (Roundup)

September 23rd, 2010 - 11:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) With less than 10 days left for the Commonwealth Games, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday stressed on fast-tracking of the works at a high-level meeting called to discuss the problems plaguing the preparations for the mega event amid criticism from some participating countries.
The meeting at the Manmohan Singh’s 7 Race Course residence was attended by Sports Minister M.S. Gill, Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said.

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar were also present.

But games organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi was not present at the meet, sources said.

According to the sources, the prime minister directed the ministers and concerned authorities to fast-track the preparations for the Oct 3-14 event. The Games Village will be ready by Friday, the ministers assured the prime minister.

Lt. Governor Khanna said the government was “confident” of completing all preparations ahead of the start of the event, the biggest in India after the 1982 Asian Games. It is expected to be attended by about 7,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories.

The prime minister had intervened again in the Games affairs after a foot overbridge near the main venue Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium collapsed Tuesday, the day several foreign contingents complained about the Games village with some describing it as “filthy and unlivable”. The next day, Wednesday, a portion of the false ceiling at the wrestling complex collapsed.

The accidents came as a major blow to India’s preparations for the Games, with the concerned authorities drawing flak from all quarters.

Organisers and the government meanwhile are racing to give finishing touches to incomplete venues and address security concerns related to the conduct of the Games.

An army of workers was moved in to clean up residential blocks at the village which has emerged as one of the major concerns for foreign athletes coming to take part in the Games in Delhi.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram reviewed security arrangements for the event with members of the Organising Committee (OC) and expressed concern over delays in handing over the venues to security agencies ahead of the mega sporting event.

Chidambaram set timelines for the OC to complete any pending work, the home ministry said in a statement, though it gave no details about the deadlines.

The home minister, according to sources, told OC members that “no further delays will be allowed” as security arrangements have to be put in place much before the event begins next month.

The meeting was also attended by union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and Delhi Police Commissioner Y.S. Dadwal.

Allaying security fears expressed by foreign athletes and delegates and highlighted by the international media, Dadwal told reporters that the Delhi Police was geared to take over the venues to safeguard them.

“I assure international athletes that there is fool-proof security for the Commonwealth Games. There is no doubt about it,” Dadwal said.

In a bid to fix things before the Oct 3-14 Games, only 10 days away, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit visited the village to take stock of the situation Thursday morning.

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