|Delays caused by rain: Press Information Bureau|
Better organisation of press centre's workforce needed
Security personnel to escort, ensure safety to athletes
Games are on:Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni with Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi at the Media Centre for Commonwealth Games 2010 during its inauguration at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi on Monday.
Take one step outside, and it's a different story. Construction workers and machines race against time to finish building the food court, lay access roads, tile pavements and install outdoor lighting.
Piles of gravel and equipment lie sprawled in the mud, even as more digging throws up fresh debris.
Workers are frantically patting patches of lawn grass into place just two steps away from the main door, where Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and the Games' Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi cut the ribbon to inaugurate the press centre on Monday. An International Broadcast Centre was also inaugurated.
“The rain over the last few days has caused delays. We expect the work to be completed soon,” says Neelam Kapoor, who heads the Press Information Bureau. Additional work also needs to be done to ensure better training for the press centre's workforce — which includes professionals, media students and volunteers — and better organisation of press conferences.
Monday's inaugural press briefing was delayed by two hours, even after journalists arrived an hour early to get passes and enter the Pragati Maidan compound. Volunteers were clueless about the details of the delay, simply repeating: “It will start in ten to fifteen minutes. Please be patient.”
During the registration for passes, which were limited to two per newspaper or channel, one bemused freelance reporter was told, “Sir, I'm sorry, but we already have two people from Freelance. I cannot register you.”
Several journalists were also frustrated by the lack of drinking water at the press conference room during the long delay.
When finally addressing the press, Mr. Kalmadi made it clear that India would ensure the safety of all athletes and officials during the Games, in the wake of Sunday's firing incident at the Jama Masjid.
“I have not got a single call from any Commonwealth country expressing apprehensions about security. This [firing] was not a Games-related incident…It's not major,” he said.
“As of today, all the 71 Commonwealth countries are coming for the Games,” he added, dismissing fears that nations would pull out citing security reasons.
Apart from the Home Ministry and Delhi Police, National Security Guard commando units are also being deployed, while an International Security Liaison office will be set up in a city hotel.
“We have taken all steps to ensure the safety of the athletes. The athletes would be escorted by security personnel right from the airport to the team hotel to the competition venues,” he said.