New Delhi gears up

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Traffic police in New Delhi are planning to introduce advanced traffic management systems in India's capital as the city continues its preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Meanwhile, concerns have been voiced over a general lack of hotel rooms.

Traffic police in New Delhi are planning to introduce advanced traffic management systems in India's capital as the city continues its preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The system, called the Intelligent Transport System (ITS), aims at cutting commuting time. "The Commonwealth Games are likely to require a special emphasis on the regulation of additional flow of traffic, especially in routes of athletes or roads leading to games venues, " said S N Shrivastava, joint commissioner of Police (Traffic), speaking at Safety Convention 2008, organised by India's Institute of Engineers. More than 200 safety experts and engineers took part in the two–day convention in September 2008. According to Shrivastava, the ITS will help in reducing traffic jams, through the use of loop detectors, traffic cameras, changeable message signs, transit location systems, electronic traffic traveller information displays and traffic operation systems. He said unlike the present system, where the operation of traffic lights is automatic for a fixed time period, or manual during peak hours, electronic sensors at major crossings will regulate signals according to traffic congestion. The ITS will help in reducing accidents and delays. In anticipation of the 2010 event, Delhi's public buses and motor rickshaws have been converted to natural CNG which is more environmentally friendly than traditional fuel. A tree–planting campaign introduced in the city in 1998 has increased tree cover in the city by more than 14 times. The New Delhi government plans to build new flyovers to relieve congestion on the crowded roads and renovate the airport. "The face of Delhi is changing for the positive, " says Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, who is spending two–thirds of his time based in Delhi in the build up to the Games. "Bringing the Games here has led to an explosion in the city on every level, from power and transportation, to venues themselves. The legacy will be great, there's no question of that. Twenty to 30 flyovers have been built already and there's an overall commitment to improving the city. Any concerns that had been voiced previously that things might not have been progressing at the right level in Delhi were no different than at any major sports event–Athens being a prime example. The transformation in the last four years here has been amazing and Delhi 2010 will be an enormous success. "New Delhi's facelift, including new roads and power plants, is estimated to be costing the Indian taxpayer more than £10bn. However, the event's organising committee has suggested that India might want to focus on preparing its athletes, rather than infrastructure, in reaction to public concerns about spiralling costs. Meanwhile, with the Commonwealth Games barely 25 months away at the time of writing, India's government is reported to be working against the clock to ensure timely completion of hotels, stadia and Games Village for the event. Against a requirement of 30, 000 hotel rooms, only around 11, 000 suitable hotel rooms are available in the capital to host the players and officials among others during the 2010 Games. There are only 105, 000 hotel rooms in the whole of India. The shortage in rooms has resulted in prices in India skyrocketing with hotels charging rates that are among the highest in the world. Bangalore accounts for the majority of foreign business travellers visiting India annually – 51% compared with 35% to Mumbai and 26% to New Delhi. In other news, Cricket Australia officials will review security arrangements in India ahead of their four–test tour following a series of bombings in New Delhi on 13 September 2008. The five bombings, in and around crowded markets and streets in the capital, killed at least 20 people and injured at least 90 more, Indian police said. The Indian Mujahideen Islamic militant group claimed responsibility for the bombings. Australia is scheduled to play a four–test series in India, starting on 9 October in Bangalore. The third match is scheduled for Delhi, starting on 29 October.

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