Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi cautions against lethargy
NEW DELHI: Indian Olympic Association president and Delhi Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi did some plain speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding with India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) here on Thursday, making it clear that the facilities offered by its hotels that have been recognised as the Games Family Hotels would have to be of high international standards.
Mr. Kalmadi said while the ITDC properties – The Ashok, Samrat and Janpath -- have been given an important place, they would have to ensure that the service and food are good. “The culture of the staff would also be important and they should wear turbans that give an India-centric feel,” he added.
With the trials for these hotels planned for October 2009 when the Commonwealth Games Federation officials would be staying at The Ashok, Mr. Kalmadi said, “it should be ensured that the rooms are spic and span and all the flushes are in working condition. It should not be like earlier when such embarrassing moments used to be there.”
Overall, he said, he was confident about the success of the Games as there was a stable government at the Centre and the same government of Sheila Dikshit in Delhi. “I have no doubt that this would be the best Commonwealth Games ever,” he said.
On the issue of requirement of rooms for the Games, Mr. Kalmadi said apart from the 10,000 hotel rooms – of which a tenth are being provided by these three ITDC hotels – about 30,000 more rooms would be needed in the National Capital Region.
Of these, he said, about 3,300 would be provided by the Delhi Development Authority, over 6,000 by Haryana, and about 1,800 by Uttar Pradesh. Besides 5,500 DDA houses, 11,000 rooms would become available from upgradation of existing hotels and guest houses and 3,000 would come through the bed and breakfast scheme of the Delhi Government. Also, educational institutes were being spoken to for such arrangements.
Mr. Kalmadi said this was also the first time that these Games are being held as the Green Games. On the occasion of World Environment Day on Friday, he said diplomats of all the 71 participating countries would plant saplings in the “Garden of 71” at The Ashok.
Union Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed said about Rs.300 crore was being spent on renovation of the three hotels of which Rs.146 crore was for The Ashok alone. At Janpath Hotel, he said, 150 rooms were being renovated and the largest spa was also coming up there. “The DDA has also given us a contract to make 3,179 flats up to the standard of three-star hotels,” he added.
With 486 days to go for the events, Mr. Ahmed said the task was Herculean. But he called for caution in executing it. “If a guest finds even a cockroach in a room it will be in the newspapers. So we have to be alert,” he said.
Union Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee said for the Games there would also be a requirement of 25,000 volunteers and his Ministry was already training 3,000 of them. Besides, he said, students were being trained and the Delhi Government, National Service Scheme and National Cadet Corps would also be undertaking this task.