Preparations on track for Commonwealth Games :M.S. Gill


Tihar Jail
Jun 16, 2009
Preparations on track for Commonwealth Games
By Nilima Pathak, Correspondent
Published: July 03, 2009, 23:26

New Delhi: M. S. Gill makes news. The federal minister recently sparked off a debate with his simple off-the-cuff remark that Delhi should be renamed Dilli. People in the national capital lost no time in pointing out that the minister would be better off addressing civic problems than stirring up trivial issues.

Gill however holds fast to his belief that Dilli would be so much sweeter on the ears given that Varanasi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bengaluru have been well received by the populations of the respective cities. He says all he has done is make a suggestion and it has generated a healthy debate. The rest, he says, can wait.



Gill is not new to controversy. As chief election commissioner, he sought a ban on exit polls before the Supreme Court intervened. Years later, he had the last laugh. For the time being, though, he is concentrating on hosting the Commonwealth Games 2010 in the national capital. Gulf News spoke to the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports on his agenda for the future.

GULF NEWS: What are the issues you are most worried about amid preparations for the Commonwealth Games 2010?

M. S. GILL: Preparations for the Games are an area of focus but they are not worrying. We have to complete the work in good time, so that we are ready for the 10,000 people who will be here for the Games. They should take back good memories.

I am here (in the ministry) only since last year and there are lots of things I would have wished to do if I was two years earlier into the job. The Sports Authority of India is working in full force on the stadiums. I have a standing committee and personally visit the sites frequently and so does Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. We have engendered a sense of enthusiasm among the staff and six stadiums will be ready in December. Two venues - the cycling velodrome and the one for shooting events - were stuck on technical grounds, but the problems have been solved. And these will be ready early next year.

Are you facing a financial crunch as you oversee preparations for the event?

Originally, the outlay for the event was 10 billion rupees (Dh765.9 million). It had to be increased to 26.4 billion rupees and both the prime minister and the finance minister agreed to it. The Games are being seen as an Indian wedding ceremony, where everything has to be done right and the visitors should leave happy. Money is not a consideration, but at the same time there are committees to see that funds are utilised properly.

As a sports minister, what are the hurdles facing you?

I will not call them hurdles but, for an event of this scale, the task is massive. Delhi is a vast city with millions of people and a massive migratory population. At times, it does become a distraction for residents, but we are trying to work things out together.

Isn't the work lagging as far as deadlines are concerned?

The general tenor of stories about the Games in the newspapers is one of worry, criticism and caution. This is healthy criticism and keeps everyone around alert. For me, it is a routine to read news reports related to sports and sportspersons. From food to air-conditioners and life in the sports camps to the disappointments voiced by coaches, I keep track of all these and ensure there is follow-up action. As for deadlines, there is absolutely no cause for worry and everything will work out just fine.

How hopeful are you about the prospects for Indian sportspersons' during the Games?

I cannot make predictions. We are putting in efforts and should be able to do far better than in the past. I hope some of them will surprise us with wins in events that we have not even dreamt of.

The gap between India and other contenders at the Games is rather huge. What do you think of our chances this time round?

We have been doing fairly well in the recent past. For the first time, the government is willing to consider spending an enormous amount of money, something that had never been done before. Last year, I received 6.78 billion rupees just for coaching facilities for the Games for two-and-a-half years. The respective federations selected 1,400 potential candidates and I ensured there was no bias and there have been no murmurs that someone deserving has been left out. Intensive coaching camps are being held all over the country. Food allowances are being disbursed but we also ensure that it reaches individuals it is meant for.

Veteran sportspersons have been hired by the Sports Authority of India as consultants to oversee the camps and report about drawbacks. We have about 40 foreign coaches helping our sportspersons in various disciplines. Also, several of our sportspersons are being sent for training abroad and we are looking after their expenses and offering our full support. Now it is up to them.

Time and again, there have been reports of sportspersons missing out on tours for various reasons. What do you have to say on this?

If someone does not get a visa, the blame should not be put at my doorstep. I am not the visa minister. The concerned federation has to look into the matter. These things happen when people are misinformed by their travel agents.

You recently made a case for better retirement benefits for sportspersons. What has shaped this thinking?

Sports people in general have a tough time. Cricketers I used to know would travel Second Class by train from Delhi to Chennai to play a Test match and they would get 100 rupees a day for their efforts. Today, some of them may be rich for a while, but for how long? The rest are in a bad state. I checked every scheme and was horrified. Athletes are not even guaranteed the meagre pension, this is very embarrassing; for instance P.T. Usha received 4,000 rupees for just about 4-5 years. In fact, I came to know of these matters after an athlete wrote to me from Maharashtra asking if her pension of 3,000 rupees could be extended. Thereafter, I doubled pension amounts for sportspersons and have ensured that payments are made for life. I know [how] to get through the labyrinth of government machinery.

Your thoughts on cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh recently skipping the Padma Shree Awards ceremony.

I do not want to name anyone. It is a great honour to receive the Padma Shree and Sports Awards from the President of India. Last year, when I took over as minister, soon after, the Sports Awards were presented. I found to my horror that a number of people had sent representatives to receive the awards. Now, does an Englishman send his grandmother to receive his knighthood from the Queen? It bothered me no end. I wrote to sportspersons that if they were chosen for any honour being conferred by the president, they were expected to come and collect it personally. And if, for some reason, someone cannot make it or has professional engagements abroad, they have to inform the ministry and apologise for such absence. Then, the sports minister will hand over the award at a suitable time and the president will not have to be bothered on this account.


- M S Gill was born on June 14, 1936 in Punjab.
- Did his Masters from Punjab University. Honorary Fellow, Queens' College, Cambridge, UK.
-First member of the Indian Administrative Service to go to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling. Trained with Tenzing Norgay 1961.
- Deputy commissioner, Ambala and Jalandhar 1965-67.
- Principal secretary to the chief minister of Punjab 1977-81.
- Development commissioner, Punjab 1985-88.
- Secretary, Department of Chemicals, Petro-Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals 1988-92.
- Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives 1992-93.
- President, Indian Mountaineering Foundation 1993-99.
- Chief election commissioner of India - 1996-2001.
- Member, Rajya Sabha - 2004.
- Member, consultative committee for the Ministry of Civil Aviation - 2005.
- Minister of State (independent charge) for the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports - 2008.

Gulfnews: Preparations on track for Commonwealth Games


Tihar Jail
Jun 16, 2009
Commonwealth Games venues way behind schedule

3 Jul 2009, 1047 hrs IST, REUTERS

Print EMail Discuss Share Save Comment Text:

NEW DELHI: The government painted a stark picture on Thursday of construction delays for the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games, saying more than
half the work needed to be completed in 12 of the 17 projects.

A statement in parliament by the Minister of State for sports reflected a race against time for the October 3-14 games next year, which has faced delays from the planning stage and then cost increases due to the rise in prices of steel, cement and labour.

Listing the percentage of work completed at each venue until last Thursday, the minister Pratik Prakashbapu Patil however expressed confidence the venues would be ready before the games.

The athletics venue in the main Jawaharlal Nehru stadium complex and the games village are only half completed while a meagre 7 per cent work was finished in the archery arena.

Union sports minister Manohar Singh Gill raised concerns last month over the tardy progress of work. The organisers also plan security on a par with last year's Beijing Olympics.

Organisers said last month that higher construction costs would force the games to go 6-8 per cent over the planned $1.6 billion budget.

The Delhi government allotted an extra Rs 900 crore ($187.5 million) in its annual budget on June 22. Construction delays forced the August 10 to 16 world badminton championships to be moved to Hyderabad.

Commonwealth Games venues way behind schedule- Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times

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