Commonwealth team visits games sites to take stock

      Amid mounting concerns over New Delhi's preparedness for holding the Commonwealth Games next year, a games' committee team visited various sites here to take stock. Led by Mike Fennell, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), the team visited the games village to assess progress. The lack of preparations in New Delhi has been a cause of concern for Fennell, who had written to the organisers last month expressing his concern at the organisers' reluctance to hire foreign experts and the tardy progress of work. He also demanded an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to help "revive" the games. The games' organising committee has received a lot of flak for its tardy progress with the construction of many venues, including the athletes' village, running behind schedule and forcing the postponement or shifting of many international meetings planned as test events. "They have a lot of work to do," a member of the Commonwealth Federation accompanying Fennell said. Organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi has insisted his team had sufficient experience, but India has not hosted a major event since the 1982 Asian Games. Fennell had said personnel with games experience must be appointed in management, planning and operational roles including transportation, technology, ticketing and logistics. While Fennell praised the government for it's backing of the games, he targeted the organising committee. The games village near the Akshardham Temple in East Delhi will house more than 8000 athletes during the event. As part of the railways' preparations for the games, the Railways have given their nod for covering rail tracks running close to the games village. The 1.1 km-long sound proof corridor will be constructed by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). As many as 600 trains pass through this area every day, making it one of the busiest and congested stretches in the country. Besides this, several beautification programmes in New Delhi station would also be carried out.

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