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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Rs 125 crore to spend, but no plan for Games’ ceremonies

Chetan Chauhan and Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 08, 2009
First Published: 00:14 IST(8/9/2009) | Last Updated: 00:16 IST(8/9/2009)

Delhi is yet to plan out its opening and closing ceremonies for next year’s Commonwealth Games.

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In contrast, Beijing had finalised the minutest details of these ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics two years before the event. And, the spectacle of over 10,000 artistes at the Bird Nest stadium in Beijing was the result of that planning.

“We have time till this month-end to finalise the concept note,” was what chairperson of the Games organising committee, Suresh Kalmadi, told Hindustan Times, on Monday.

The expenditure on these ceremonies is estimated to be Rs. 125 crore, through which the government proposes to showcase India’s cultural diversity, history and its unique civilisation.

In July, Kalmadi told a group of ministers (GoM) headed by Urban Development minister Jaipal Reddy that only 15 months were left for the Games, and they were much behind schedule in finalising the ceremonies. “The Commonwealth Games Federation has also conveyed its discontentment at the delay,” he told the GoM.

On the “repeated request” of the organising committee, the Federation has given time till September-end for submitting the “concept and theme” for  ceremonies.

The committee cannot implement the concept note till the federation approves it.

“Any delay beyond September can jeopardise the prospects of holding the Games in Delhi,” said a committee official, not willing to be quoted. Kalmadi had expressed similar views at the July GoM meeting. 

On Monday, Kalmadi was optimistic that the ceremonies would be of global standard. “Chief Minister of Delhi (Sheila Dikshit) had approved the concept of the ceremonies. We expect to get the GoM’s approval on September 11. After that, we would start (preparations) on full swing,” Kalmadi, who also heads the Indian Olympic Association, said.

The Beijing Olympics Committee started the process to select the participants for the ceremonies in 2006. “For over a year the 10,000 participants trained rigorously,” the committee’s website said. Similarly, for Football World Cup in South Africa, the main ceremonies were finalised more than 18 months before the first day of the event in July 2010. 

Back in Delhi, a committee had taken over eight months to decide the “concept and theme” for these ceremonies.

In February 2009, a committee of eminent personalities like Rajya Sabha member Shyam Benegal, lyricists Javed Akhtar and Prasoon Joshi and Bharat Bala Ganapathy had asked Ganapathy to prepare a concept and theme note. 

Kalmadi told the GoM in July that instead of Ganapathy, his company Bharat Bala Production has submitted the concept note, which was not accepted by the organising committee.

The GoM decided to ask the committee of eminent personalities to prepare a new note and get it approved from it. “On September 11, I am hopeful that the GoM will approve the theme,” Kalmadi said.

The committee has appointed Ric Birch, who was also a consultant for Sydney Commonwealth Games 2010, as international creative expert.


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