Just over half of the young people surveyed trusted pension plans that were set up jointly by employers and employee representatives, known as the Tarifparteien.Under the BRSG, the Tarifparteien of each industry can now set up pension plans without guarantees but with a “defined ambition” goal. It is the first time German law has supported pension funds without guaranteed retirement incomes.Heribert Karch, managing director at MetallRente and chairman of the pension fund association aba, said the results of the survey were a good omen for the start of the new legal framework.“The wish for a better retirement provision and the trust in the Tarifparteien is considerable,” he said in a press release.“It is their task to intervene if necessary and provide a high as possible ‘target pension’ through collective investments providing generational equality,” Karch said.He hoped that opt-out provisions would help to increase the number of participants in occupational pension plans.Companies setting up the new plans will no longer have to provide guarantees but they have to reimburse the pension plan for any tax advantages they get from paying parts of salaries into pension plans. However, it is yet not fully clear when and to what extent these legal provisions will have to be applied.For these and other reasons Karch noted at a conference last autumn that it would be some time before the first pension plans under the BRSG appeared on the German pension stage. Meanwhile, MetallRente is preparing itself to be among the first providers of these new pension plans – along with the BVV.“Entities like MetallRente clearly confirm the advantages of occupational retirement saving in large collectives,” Karch noted.The pension plan has announced it will continue to pay a 3.65% interest on its savers’ assets in 2018 “despite the low income environment”. Only a third (34%) of Germans aged between 14 and 29 trust that the state pension will provide enough for them in retirement, according to a survey multi-employer scheme MetallRente.Instead, 61% preferred to put their trust in occupational pension plans, according to the poll conducted in late November.Among the 1,000 surveyed individuals of all age groups, 48% trusted the state pension and 56% trusted occupational pensions.The survey also provided a boost for Germany’s new pension law, the Betriebsrentenstärkungsgesetz (BRSG), which came into effect on 1 January.
Still, 90 percent of the NBA these days is just showing up. Kevin Durant veered from stiff-upper-lip protocol the other day when he basically said, look, dummies, the Thunder started out behind because Durant and Russell Westbrook had missed time.Pro basketball stars are involved in a higher percentage of plays than NFL, NBA and NHL stars are. At some point reality takes over. Remove one of the Splash Brothers for a significant amount of time and see if the Golden State Warriors can stay afloat.But the Grizzlies, who have played 55 games, have only one player (Zach Randolph) who has missed as many as 10 games.“We’re a game-at-a-time team until Blake gets back,” Doc Rivers said.Paul wound up with 30 points and 10 assists, as the Grizzlies kept ducking behind screens and he kept shooting. But he got to the free-throw line only twice. While that was happening, the four other shooters — Matt Barnes, JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford and Spencer Hawes — were 15 for 46 overall. The Grizzlies also limited Jordan to three offensive boards.“I only got 17 rebounds,” Jordan said, straight-faced. “I can do better.”The Clippers won the 2012 playoff series over Memphis primarily because of their bench, and that was before they acquired Crawford. Now the Grizzlies have acquired Jeff Green to play small forward, which means Allen can join the game in progress and spread his defensive stickum. Memphis got outstanding minutes from Nick Calathes, Kosta Koufos and Beno Udrih, who will not be in demand in FanDuel but enabled the Grizzlies to lose the bench war by only one point (23-22). Which is a win for any team that opposes Crawford.The Clippers go to Houston, which still doesn’t have Dwight Howard, and then Memphis. By then Paul might have forgiven himself. But he won’t forget.“The play before the last one, I probably had Spencer open, who I could have hit,” he said. “A game comes down to a few plays and execution. I didn’t execute the last play.”Meanwhile, someone asked Marc Gasol about the truculence of the Clippers-Grizzlies rivalry.“We have a history with a few teams now,” he said. “But there are no hard feelings. Never. The game of basketball is a beautiful game that should never have hard feelings.”He said that hypothetically. The Grizzlies don’t play beauty-contest games. But winning improves their congeniality. Paul was being guarded by Courtney Lee, with the Clippers down by one point. JJ Redick came toward Paul, which brought Conley into the play. Lee sneaked up from the backside to flick the ball away. Clippers coach Doc Rivers later said that L.A. was supposed to be “flat,” meaning more of a 1-4 set that would have kept the Grizzlies’ help defenders far away from the ball. Instead, a couple of Clippers were near the foul line, and that was that.It was typical, Rivers said, of a disjointed offensive performance against the most grudging defense in the NBA, at least if you judge things by the non-analytic standard of points scored.But there are few alternatives when Blake Griffin is out with a staph infection and is not particularly close to returning. The Clippers shot 12 free throws to Memphis’ 26 and gave up 40 points in the paint — again, Memphis sets the league standard in that department. The Clippers shot 27 3-pointers and several other long 2-pointers, and DeAndre Jordan had four field goal attempts, all of which he made.“We will see them (the Grizzlies) again Friday,” Jordan said soberly. Nobody knows when the Clippers will see Griffin.Memphis is 41-14 now, the second-best record in the NBA. On Sunday night it surged at the end to win at Portland. On Monday it surged at the end to beat the Clippers. LaMarcus Aldridge did not play for the Blazers and Griffin was out here, but there is no column in the standings for that. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error [email protected] ANGELES >> In the aftermath, Chris Paul imagined he was sofa-bound, watching the Clippers’ final possession.“I’d be the one saying, ‘You dummy, you’ve got to get a shot off in that situation,’” he said.We can safely assume that Paul has said exactly that when watching other guards get stripped on the game’s essential play. Paul will be no easier on himself, as he tries to reconstruct what led to Mike Conley’s steal, which preserved a 90-87 victory for Memphis over the Clippers on Monday night.
National football team of BiH yesterday gathered in the hotel Hercegovina in Ilidža. Training in the afternoon hours marked the beginning of preparations for qualifications for the World Championship and the first match, against Estonia, which is to be played on September 6 in Zenica.First training was held in the Training Camp of FC Sarajevo in Butmir, but the team was not complete. Players who attended the training yesterday are Spahić, Begović, Duljević, Cocalić, Cimirot, Tomić, Aničić, Vrančić, Lulić, Kolašinac, Pjanić, Hodžić, Vranješ, Šunjić and Sušić.Other players stayed in the hotel for recovery, Milan Đurić was playing for Cesena, and Ibrahim Šehić was expected to join the team later that night.The Dragons will have two more training sessions today at the same location, and another one on Wednesday. As of Thursday, the national team will be preparing in the Training Center “The Dragon’s Nest” in Zenica, where they will have one training that day. After several more training sessions during the following days, one day before the match with Estonia they will have one training at the stadium Bilino Polje in Zenica.The match against Estonia will be played on September 6 at the stadium Bilino Polje in Zenica starting from 8:45 pm.(Source: klix.ba)
By Liz Sheehan and John Burton Correction Nov. 19: The story “Vast Majority Testifying Opposed to LNG Proposal” in the November 12-19 edition of The Two River Times incorrectly stated U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. appeared and commented at the public hearing. A representative of the congressman appeared and read his statement. EATONTOWN – The majority of those in attendance at the final two hearings about a controversial deepwater liquid gas (LNG) terminal that would be 24.9 miles off Long Branch, were opposed to the project citing environmental and security concerns and urged Gov. Chris Christie to veto it.Opponents, and a few proponents, who argued it would result in jobs and cheaper natural gas during peak months, gathered at the Sheraton Inn, Nov. 3 and 4 to speak at the hearings held by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Maritime Administration on Port Ambrose.Christie earlier refused permission for a similar proposal by the same development entity, Liberty Natural Gas, in 2011 and 2012, also citing environmental and security reasons. The public can continue to submit comments until Nov. 30 and then the governors have until Dec. 21 to make their feelings known, according to U.S. Coast Guard lawyer Curtis Borland.Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York, have the power to approve or cancel the proposed deepwater LNG terminal, which would also be 27.1 nautical miles from the entrance of New York Harbor. Cuomo’s office has not spoken publicly about the proposal.Among the 50-plus speakers on Wednesday, most who included public officials, including State Senator Jennifer Beck, (R-11) and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), environmental groups, religious groups and the public, were against the project. The few who favored it were from labor and business organizations that said having the gas import facility would supply additional supplies in peak demand in cold weather and summer months thus avoiding price swings for customers. They said the port would use state-of-the-art equipment and also best practices and ensure environmental and public safety. Cindy Zipf, the executive director of Clean Ocean Action, a Long Branch-based environmental group, in a statement about the proposed facility said, “Port Ambrose has been haunting our coast for seven long years and it is now time to put an end to this harmful, dangerous and unnecessary project. Hundreds of people have attended public hearings, tens of thousands have sent in public comments, and over 99% are in opposition. We are not buying what Liberty Natural Gas and their secret corporate backers in the Cayman Islands are selling. The consensus is clear, the project must end now.”On Thursday Zipf returned and added, “It’s like the tobacco industry denying tobacco is harmful. It’s like Exxon/Mobile denying climate change,” she said. “They both lie.”Over the course of several years, federal agencies have accepted roughly 80,000 public comments from the New York-New Jersey area and more than 90 percent have been opposed.The terminal would be used by LNG vessels to deliver liquid natural gas that would be vaporized on site and delivered to a buried subsea pipe 18.8 nautical mainline that would connect to an existing lateral, according to the Federal Register.From left to right: Cindy Zipf, director COA; Tim Dillingham, AmericanLittoral Society exec. director; Dina Long, Sea Bright mayor. Photo: Tina ColellaAt the Wednesday session of the hearings, Carl Cooper, Holmdel, said “inadequate attention had been given to security considerations at the proposed Port Ambrose beginning with the present lack of identification and security vetting of all Liberty Natural Gas principals.” On its website Liberty Natural Gas identifies itself as a developer for Port Ambrose and “as a portfolio company of a fund advised by West Face Capital, a Toronto, Canada based investment fund.” Cooper also said that Port Ambrose “would be a magnet for terrorist attacks, and security considerations for handling, mitigating and recovering from such attacks (or accidents) are inadequately treated in the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement).”Many speakers who were against the proposal said they believed that it would be converted to a facility that could export natural gas since the prices for gas were so much lower in the U.S. since there was a large supply here because of fracking and it make no sense to ship in higher priced gas. A Reuters article from April, 2015 said that the CEO of Hoegh LNG, a company which Liberty Natural Gas said on its website is its partner in developing Port Ambrose and Port Meridian, (a deepwater port project in northwest England),” said “The plan is to buy the LNG in the United States which will be taken to “Port Meridian” by LNG vessels.” The LNG will be transferred “to a British pipeline and sold to consumers,” the CEO said. The article did not say from where in the U.S. the LNG would be shipped.John Toth, who represented the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance and the Jersey Shore Anglers Association, cited the 30-foot waves caused by Superstorm Sandy and questioned if the LNG port “could be adequately secured from the effect of this type of storm? If not, it will be tossed into the ocean with devastating economic effects on our entire region, including loss of life.” Toth said that fishing would be excluding “two miles from each docking buoy” of the port “eliminating the ability of fishing vessels to anchor in the affected area. Commercial and recreational fisherman will be excluded from these important fishing grounds.” He said that “gas itself presents challenges to issues of safety.’’“What if the gas lines from the LNG port to their shore locations rupture from some mechanical or pressure problem and spill into the ocean?” he asked. “The BP problem in the Gulf showed that repairs to mechanical systems in the sea can be problematic,” he said.Kari Martin, Oceanport, offered how she and her husband and children “enjoy the ocean” regularly and said “This project is destructive” noting the industrialization of the ocean.Among those who supported the plan was Daniel Ortega, who represented the labor group Engineers Labor Cooperative. He said the proposal to build and operate the facility would create many temporary construction jobs and create permanent positions. “This job will help protect the whole area,” he said. One speaker at the hearing held a different opinion. Araiya Casriel, 9, of Highlands, said “I am speaking on behalf of those who could not attend this meeting, the ocean creatures themselves. Imagine if a stranger come to your house while you were still in it and started to drop bombs on it. That is what it will feel like to them,” she said. “During construction, millions and millions of plankton, larvae, and fish eggs will be extracted, destroying the very base of the food chain. The sea floor will be demolished. Shellfish beds decades old, gone in days. The migration patterns of marine mammals will be disrupted. Some of the species that are endangered could die out, like the North Atlantic Right Whale.” She also said the Port Ambrose pipeline would cross a fault line “presenting a risk of an explosion…” Erika Casriel, Araiya’s mother said her daughter had written the presentation herself. The governors have until Dec. 21 to express their feeling on the proposal. according to Curtis Borland, a lawyer with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Funeral Services AnnouncedFuneral services for AbbieGail Kaylea Smith will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 23 at the Jacqueline M. Ryan Home for Funerals, 233 Carr Ave., Keansburg.A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:15 a.m. Monday at St. Ann’s Church, Keansburg. Burial to follow at Bayview Cemetery, Leonardo.In lieu of flowers the family will be accepting donations in AbbieGail’s name for a scholarship fund. Letters of condolences can be sent to www.jacquelinemryanfh.com. This article was first published in the July 20-27, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times. By John BurtonKEANSBURG — A small group of people, largely Keansburg residents but not exclusively, quiet and somber – as if in a house of worship – stood in front of McGrath Towers housing complex to pay their respects and reflect on the horrible events of last week and to remember an 11-year-old taken too soon and in a shockingly violent way.At the apartment complex’s 25 Hancock St. site, people gathered at a makeshift memorial made up of balloons, stuffed animals, sympathy cards, photos and candles being lit as the sun set on July 15. Some were willing to offer thoughts about AbbieGail “Abbie” Smith, 11, who lived at the affordable housing project’s 16 Hancock St. location, and was stabbed to death sometime between the evening of July 12 and the following morning.“Basically, it’s another senseless killing of a child,” observed Keansburg resident Robert Nugent, as he placed candles at the memorial.Nugent was joined by his wife, Daisy; both had lived in Keansburg for a number of years, but didn’t know AbbieGail or the Smith family. But the couple felt it was imperative to publicly express their feelings. “I think it is important,” Daisy responded when asked why she was there. “It was one of our children. It’s a tragedy.”A memorial grew near AbbieGail’s home.Brianna Cooper, 11 years old, came with family members. She attended the public school district’s Joseph R. Bolger Middle School with AbbieGail. “She was my best friend,” Brianna said, her eyes welling up with tears. Brianna said her friend “was always happy; she was always smiling,” and loved music and dancing. “She was just so amazing and caring,” Brianna said of AbbieGail, also confiding, “she was the only one who defended me against the bullies in school.“She was so good,” Brianna said.Keansburg police responded to a report coming in at approximately 9:24 p.m. on July 12 of a missing child at the 16 Hancock St. complex. Local authorities contacted the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office in the early hours of the following morning, mounting a joint investigation in their search for the girl.While investigators, joined by the prosecutor’s Forensic and Technical Services Bureau, continued their probe into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance, at roughly 10:20 a.m. they discovered on the roof area of the complex where the Smith family resided, an object wrapped in a blanket or comforter, according to the prosecutor’s office. Wrapped in the blanket was what authorities said was a deceased human body, a short time later identified by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office as the remains of AbbieGail Smith.Later that same day, law enforcement authorities arrested Andreas Erazo, an 18-year-old man who lived upstairs from the victim and her family. According to the prosecutor’s office, Erazo was charged with first degree murder, third degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and fourth degree unlawful possession of a weapon allegedly in connection with the child’s death.The medical examiner’s report concluded AbbieGail died as a result of a stab wound to the neck, according to Charles Webster, a spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. No other details from the report were immediately released.Andreas Erazo, 18, is shown during his initial appearance in Freehold Friday, July 14, 2017, where he was charged with the murder of 11-year-old AbbieGail “Abbie” Smith in Keansburg.Erazo, a slightly built teen, sporting a bushy haircut and wispy mustache and goatee, wearing handcuffs around his wrists, entered state Superior Court on Friday, July 14, for his initial appearance. The courtroom was packed largely with media representatives, including TV cameras, and the victim’s family. In a brief, perfunctory hearing, Judge Richard W. English laid out for the suspect the charges and his rights, with Erazo offering soft spoken and minimal responses that he understood and acknowledged he would like to have a public defender as his legal counsel.Seeing Erazo, the victim’s mother was emotional. “You need to rot in jail! You murdered my daughter!” she shouted in a heavy Jamaican accent, and was then led out of the courtroom surrounded by family members.Erazo was initially scheduled to once again appear before English on Wednesday, July 19, for a bail hearing; that hearing was delayed until Friday, July 28, at the request of Erazo’s lawyer.Afterwards, during a hastily convened press conference on the courthouse lawn in Freehold Borough, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni told the gathering of reporters, “This is one of the worst crimes I’ve seen,” during his five-year tenure with the prosecutor’s office.“By all accounts she was a lovely, lovely little girl,” the prosecutor said of AbbieGail.“We represent the state without passion or prejudice, but that doesn’t make us any less human,” he said as his colleagues, most with their own families, look to continue their emotionally difficult investigation.Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. GramiccioniGramiccioni was expectedly tightlipped on details, given the investigation is ongoing. But he did acknowledge “there’s no reason to believe” anyone else was involved in the crime; and investigators have collected considerable physical evidence and interviews allegedly linking Erazo to the crime.Gramiccioni requested the media respect the family’s wishes for privacy at this time. “They did ask me to convey to the public and the media what they want out of this is justice and it’s my job and my staff’s job to do the best at delivering that for them,” he added.“We’ll get details out in an appropriate time and manner,” he said.John J. Niesz, Keansburg’s superintendent of schools, issued a statement, posted on the district’s website, where Niesz said, “AbbieGail was a wonderful young girl who was a Titan through and through,” referring to the district’s mascot. “She will be greatly missed by the entire Keansburg School District family, especially her friends and family.”The district will provide grief counseling at the Bolger Middle School to help students dealing with the loss, Niesz’s statement indicated.Maribel Batista lives in East Brunswick but drives her ice cream truck through the borough where her parents continue to live, just a couple of blocks away from the site. She pulled up to Hancock Street in the ice cream truck placing a small item at the memorial. “I have four kids myself. I can’t stop thinking about this,” she said. “I can’t imagine what the family is going through.”Tommy Brown drove from Newark where he lives, not knowing the family but feeling a need to offer some small condolences. “I can’t understand this, an 11-year-old girl getting stabbed,” Brown said. “You have to ask yourself, why?”“I don’t know how you can do something like this,” said Keansburg resident Antonietta Carbone, speaking of the crime. Looking at the group gathered Carbone offered, “I just hope everybody comes out and joins together…Even if we don’t know each other.”“Hopefully, it shows the mother that people do care,” Robert Nugent said, “and are behind her 100 percent.”
Travis Wellman, with his league leading 14th goal of the season, killed any chance of the Beaver Valley comeback by scoring into the empty net.Tyler Moffat was solid between the pipes for the Leafs, stopping 20 shots.Josh Round to the loss in goal for Beaver Valley.Nelson remains in top spot in the Murdoch Division with a 7-0-1 record.The Leafs continue its swing through the Murdoch Division with a home-and-home series against the defending KIJHL champs from Castlegar.The teams hook up Saturday in Castlegar before completing the series Sunday in Nelson at 2:30 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.BLUELINES: The Leaf players saluted Breast Cancer Awareness month by wearing pink laces and using pink tape on their sticks. . . . Hockey fans were surprised to see Nelson native Linden Horswill back in the Green and White. The Nelson Minor Hockey grad had been suspended after leaving the Trail Smokies of the BCHL. However, the Trail management surprisingly lifted the suspension. . . . . The Friday, October 18th game against Beaver Valley is Bras at the Barn Night. Fans are asked to bring their bras to the game to raise awareness for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Check out the Leaf website at www.nelsonleafs.ca for more information. The Nelson Leafs survived the first major test of the season, scoring twice late in the second period en route to a 5-2 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League victory over the Beaver Valley Nitehawks Friday night at the NDCC Arena.The game is the first of three meetings against Neil Murdoch Division rivals — Beaver Valley and Castlegar.Aaron Dunlap and Alex Wilkerson scored 94 seconds apart to snap a 2-2 tie to power Nelson to the win.The Leafs led 2-0 after the opening frame on goals by Linden Horswill and Dunlap.Michael Bell and Dallas Calvin scored power play goals for the Hawks to tie the game up midway through the second period.
The countdown has begun. In exactly five months from now the curtain will go up on what is easily the most ambitious project India has undertaken in recent years – the IX Asiad. On November 19, which also conveniently happens to be Mrs Gandhi’s 65th birthday, 5,000 athletes from 32,The countdown has begun. In exactly five months from now the curtain will go up on what is easily the most ambitious project India has undertaken in recent years – the IX Asiad. On November 19, which also conveniently happens to be Mrs Gandhi’s 65th birthday, 5,000 athletes from 32 countries representing the cream of Asian sport will assemble in New Delhi to battle for a total of 580 medals over the next 15 days.For the athletes, it will be a culmination of four years of blood, sweat and tears. Their triumphs and tragedies will be part of sporting history, half-buried in the mass of dry statistics. But the statistics will fail to reveal the real triumph of Asiad ’82 – the incredible saga of how the New Delhi Games became a reality. The real heroes of the Games will not be the lithe, finely-honed athletes but the faceless men who made the Asiad dream come alive.Stripped of the controversies that have dogged the frenetic scramble to physically make the Asiad a possibility; the political snakes and ladders that has taken place; the strident outcry of the environmentalists and the inevitable allegations of rake-offs, the Asiad project is undeniably a triumph of India’s technical and professional ability.It has been an Olympian race against time: a mere 20 months to erect five brand new, complex and state-of-the-art stadia and renovate and expand 12 more existing ones, apart from the other accompanying arrangements that entail the hosting of an international sporting meet of the magnitude of the Asiad. “It is the largest and most complex management exercise the country has undertaken so far,” boasts S.S. Gill, the stern-visaged secretary-general of the Special Organising Committee (SOC) for the Asian Games and a senior IAS officer.advertisementIndian cycling hopes practising in the velodrome with the indoor stadium in the backgroundAwesome Task: Even viewed statistically, the totality of material that has gone into the making of Asiad ’82 indicates the awesomeness of the task. Just the stadia alone have accounted for over 8 crore bricks, 100.000 tonnes of cement, 90,000 tonnes of steel and over 300 kilometres of cables and wires. Put end to end, the number of bricks alone would girdle the globe. The amount of cement and steel would be enough to erect a new township or build a dozen bridges. And that is segregated from the other beaver-like building activity that has disrupted normal traffic flow in the capital for the last two years and is undoubtedly very much a part of the Asiad project. This includes no less than seven flyovers, widening of 30-odd roads and 10 new five-star hotel projects, in itself a mammoth undertaking which has in one stroke changed forever the face of Delhi.By last fortnight, the biggest question mark that loomed over the Asiad project – the question of it being ready in time for the Games – had almost been obliterated. A majority of the stadia have long since lost their skeletal shape and are rapidly nearing completion. Last fortnight, the first of the flyovers was commissioned and an official D-day for the last of the project has been slated for September 1. Apart from the hotels, of which only two or possibly three will beat the deadline. Asiad ’82 will be go by that date if the current momentum continues.That, of course, will be the triumph. The tragedy is that the frantic and unrelenting round the clock pace at which the project has been operating was totally unnecessary. The vote to give New Delhi the Games was decided in Montreal as far back as 1976. Yet actual work on the project started in earnest only in 1981.Woman worker at the indoor stadium: Racing against timeIn between was a succession of disasters, all of them man-made and politically motivated, that seriously threatened to jeopardise the Games even before the first brick had been laid. India’s hesitant bid to host the Games predictably ran into a strong political headwind. Initially, it was brushed under the carpet amid the urgency of the 1977 general elections.Then came its biggest hurdle in the form of the Janata government which dithered over the issue of whether to hold the Games or back out. Typically, no decision was taken except the formation of an inevitable steering commitee under Vijay Kumar Malhotra. By the time the Janata government had dug its own grave in 1979. Asiad ’82 consisted of a handful of dusty and dogeared files. But bigger threats loomed ahead. Charan Singh, heading a shaky caretaker government at the Centre, dismissed the Asiad as a “costly tamasha” and one the country could ill afford.advertisementControversy: Meanwhile, the Asiad was embroiled in an unprecedented controversy over whether it should be held in Delhi or in neighbouring Haryana, where Chief Minister Bhajan Lal was making a desperate bid for its staging for reasons that again had very little to do with sport. Fortuitously for Asiad, while the Cabinet was debating Charan Singh’s directive to renege on hosting the Games, his government collapsed. The suspense, however, was only over in mid-January 1980, when Mrs Gandhi gave the Games the go-ahead at the first Cabinet meeting held by the new Congress (I) Government.Political delays, however, continued to dog the Games with the unsavoury dismissal of Malhotra as chairman of the Organising Committee and his replacement by V.C. Shukla, the then civil supplies minister. But once Shukla fell out of favour and was dropped from the Cabinet, his ouster from the Asian Games was only a matter of time. By the time the axe actually fell and Buta Singh, the vice-chairman of the committee and, ironically, Shukla’s replacement in the Civil Supplies Ministry, was elevated to chairman, 1980 was well on its way.Chetal (left) and Dass: Unique projectBut with Mrs Gandhi’s official blessings and the fact that son Rajiv and his personal kitchen cabinet were later actively involved in the Games, the Asiad nightmare gradually faded and the uncertainty gave way to increasing optimism. In late December 1980, Gill was appointed secretary-general of the SOC and a hand-picked team was selected with the help of Raja Bhalindra Singh, president, Asian Games Federation and president, Indian Olympic Association (IOA). Though packed with politicians, the 28 committees set up under the SOC to handle various aspects of the Games contained enough talent in the form of technocrats, senior service officers and bureaucrats to ensure that once established, the pace could be maintained.Costly Blunders: The delays and the drastically shortened time-span had, however, taken their toll. The original estimate of Rs 61 crore as the price-lag for staging the Games was soon made a mockery of by escalation, deliberate delays by contractors, some costly blunders and unforeseen expenses as a result of sheer inexperience. In fact, it is the spiralling cost of holding the Games that has given its detractors the most ammunition and labelled it in many quarters as an unaffordable extravagance. Appu, the prancing elephant, the IX Asiad’s mascot, has also become a symbol of the white elephant that many people believe the Games will be as far as the country is concerned.In fact, the myriad related controversies that have accompanied the preparations for Asiad have largely paled before the main controversy regarding its actual cost. There are alarming variations between the figures that have been given out in Parliament, the figures given by the SOC and the costs computed by people actually working on the Asiad sites. Parliament, for instance, has been repeatedly informed that the cost of staging the Games will work out to a mere Rs 61 crore.advertisementThe main stadium on Lodhi Road: Producing its own heroesThat, however, is the original estimate and bears not the slightest relation to the final total, which, if one includes the related activities – seven flyovers, widening of 30-odd roads, construction of 10 hotels, electrification of the ring railway – works out to over Rs 470 crore which is considerably less than the Rs 700 crore that is being bandied about but also infinitely higher than the official figures being handed out.Officials of the SOC conveniently delink their expenses to that incurred on the flyovers and hotels with the excuse that “these are all part of the metro’s normal requirements”. But there is no question that it is only because of the Asiad that they are being built now. The controversial School Lane flyover, for instance, was mooted as far back as 1962 – 20 years ago. But even accepting the SOC’S argument, their figures are definitely being underplayed.Their claim is that they have spent Rs 49 crore as capital cost on construction of the stadia with a 15-20 per cent escalation cost. Yet, according to engineers on site, the cost of the village alone will work out to over Rs 35 crore while the Indoor Stadium, the largest in Asia and the third largest in the world, will cost close to Rs 40 crore.The SOC’s total figure, which includes administrative expenses such as equipment, transport and furnishings estimated at Rs 18 crore, works out to Rs 77 crore. Again, according to official estimates, the revised cost of the stadia alone totals slightly over Rs 100 crore and with the cost of the expensive equipment imported for the Games, the actual total is nearer to Rs 150 crore. Seven flyovers and road widening activities have cost around Rs 35 crore while the 10 hotel projects together come to around Rs 280 crore. A fairly conservative estimate of the cost of the Games then is close to Rs 465 crore.(Clockwise from top left) Jayaraman, Sarma, Chawla and Rishi: Working under pressureThe irony, however, lies in the fact that even that figure is hardly an over-indulgence for something as mammoth and prestigious as the Asiad. Just one modern fertiliser project would cost more, and the Asiad is certainly destined to boost India’s international stature considerably alter the Games. Says SOC Chairman Buta Singh: “The Asian Games will put us firmly on the world sporting map. Once we have staged the Asiad successfully, India will have a much larger say in international decisions concerning sports. Many people don’t realise that with this, the number of votes India has in international federations are almost doubled. Apart from that, India is a major Asian power in everything except sport. We wanted to catch up and this was the best time. The very fact that we are staging the Games increases our status considerably.”Advantages: IOA President Raja Bhalindra Singh, a keen sportsman and the guiding spirit behind the Games, takes a longer and broader view. “I see it as a tremendous incentive for the youth of the country. For the first time, they have equipment and facilities that are the best available. Above all, it will channelise their energies into something worthwhile.” To illustrate this, he quotes the example of Thailand which was racked with serious student violence in the early ’60s.But once Bangkok established itself as an international sports centre (it has staged three Asiads since then), Thailand’s students have had more productive channels for their energies. On another plane, Japan is a classic example of the advantages that accrue from becoming an international sports centre. Before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Japan was at the bottom of the sporting ladder. Since then, Japanese athletes have challenged the best in the world and have increased their medal tally, quite literally, by leaps and bounds.Indian grapplers at practiceBut even if the Games turn out to be an unqualified success, the question of whether they were necessary or not will continue to simmer. Arguably, the Rs 470 crore which the Games will cost, and that is a highly conservative estimate, is Rs 200 crore more than the total investment in village and small industries for the 1981-82 Plan allocations.If invested in small industries, it could have provided employment for over two million people. But that is largely an academic exercise, which always comes back to the crucial point – if India wants to play in the Big League and wants the facilities to do so, the cost factor is justified. If, however, the facilities are left to rot after the Games and the staging of Asiad ’82 is only an ego trip for a handful of people , the cost would be far too heavy a price to pay. But only the future will really tell. In that context, the New Delhi Asiad is clearly a major investment for the future.Till now, India’s decline in the sporting arena and the monotonous string of failures has been conveniently disguised under the all-embracing heading of “lack of proper equipment” whether it was astroturf for the hockey players, synthetic tracks for athletes, fibreglass poles for pole-vaulters, et al. With the Asiad having ushered in the modern sporting age in India, that catch-all no longer applies and if Indian sportsmen continue to lag, it will be for other reasons.Pride: Nobody can doubt that Asiad ’82 is a sports-lovers’ dream come true. The stadia and the equipment are undeniably world-class. The fact that they have been completed in record time is a matter of statistical record. What is clearly a matter of national pride is the fact that the stadia are state-of-the-art affairs designed and built by men who had no experience in the field at all.A diver framed in the upraised arms of anotherThe piece de resistance of the Games is the Indoor Stadium inside the Indraprastha sports complex which sprawls over 110 acres of land on the banks of the Yamuna. Viewed from the air, the Indoor Stadium looks like something out of Star Wars, a futuristic space station that overshadows everything else for miles around. Assigned to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) which so far has confined itself to battalions of box-like houses, the Indoor Stadium is an architectural marvel. The stadium has a diameter of 150 metres and is a bowllike structure supported on eight pylons. The complexity of the design required the import of an international expert on stress analysis of space structures – Professor Z.S. Makowski. Makowski admitted that the Indoor Stadium was “one of the most interesting structures” he had been associated with. The stadium, which is centrally air-conditioned, will be the venue of the gymnastics, badminton and volleyball events during the Asiad and has a capacity of 25,000. It will also have a soundproofed, collapsible partition which can divide the stadium into two halves for simultaneous events.In the office of the chief project engineer for the stadium, V.P. Chetal, is a board giving the day’s work. Above that is a sign which says “Countdown 65”, an ever-constant reminder that there are 65 days left to get the complex ready for handing over to the Asiad. “It is the biggest project I have ever worked on,” says Chetal, “there are 49 separate agencies involved in one way or another; 7,000 labourers working in two shifts round the clock and over 50 engineers and architects.” The main architect, Sharat Dass, who designed Mrs Gandhi’s farmhouse, admits that he will probably wind up losing money on the project but the reputation will more than compensate for the loss. For DDA Vice-Chairman, V.S. Ailawadi, there is a similar benefit. “It has redeemed our reputation,” he says.Real Heroes: It is Ailawadi and a handful of others who are the real heroes of the Asiad and not the fat cats who are cornering all the glory. Chetal, the chief engineer of the Indoor Stadium, is a modest, self-effacing man who insists that the credit should be jointly shared. But obviously, it is his dynamism and 18-hour-a day-seven-day-a-week efforts and his rapport with the main architect, Sharat Dass, a short, earnest, bespectacled individual, which have made the stadium into a top-of-the-line product.Bhalindra Singh (left) and Buta SinghChetal’s office is an island of quiet efficiency within the helter-skelter of the pounding of pile-drivers and the hammering of nails. Maps; charts and progress reports are plastered all over the walls and walkie-talkie sets keep him in constant touch with his key men on the project site. “I think our main achievement is the constant minute by minute monitoring which has enabled us to stay on top of the work,” he says. Chetal also concedes that his bosses in the DDA have backed him all the way.DDA Vice-Chairman Ailawadi, for instance, gave Chetal the go-ahead to start the pile-driving work even before the project budget had been officially sanctioned, thus giving them at least two months of lead time. Says Dass: “It is a unique project and that is why I think everybody pitched in and worked like madmen. The sense of satisfaction in seeing something like this take shape before your eyes is something incredible.”Wonders: Ironically enough, the Asiad has been an inadvertent advertisement for the DDA with its engineers having surpassed themselves like never before. R.S. Jindal, the chief project engineer of the Village project, is another overly-modest individual but one who has achieved wonders. A short, plump, clean-shaven man with no airs about him, Jindal has, however, been responsible for a Village that is as good as anything thatBangkok or Tokyo can provide. Though it is likely that some of the 853 houses may not be ready in time, the ones that will are tastefully designed and well-constructed with the interior designing in traditional Indian motifs. DDA will, of course, get three times the amount they have spent when the houses are sold after the Games but for once the scramble for the houses will be justified. “I think we have proved that a combination of determination and hard work is all that is required,” says Jindal.A bird’s-eye view of the sprawling village complex for the 5,000 athletes expected for the AsiadThe main stadium has its own heroes in the form of the four-man team that, sans experience, drew up the design and plans in the record time of one month. Originally, the main stadium was meant to be sited in the National Stadium at the end of Delhi’s central vista that stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. Only after work had started did it dawn on the organisers that the stadium with its lighting towers would ruin the central vista concept laid down by Lutyens. “By the time the new Lodhi Road site was located and approved, it was June 1980. By July, the conceptual drawings were handed over and on August 2, we submitted our estimates,” says N.C. Jayaraman, the balding, affable chief engineer of the project.Actual work started on October 26, 1980 which gave them less than two years in which to construct an international Olympic standard stadium. “It is entirely our own design and concept and the best part is none of us had ever seen an international stadium before,” says S. Gupta Sarma, the thin, earnest man in charge of the complex lighting system.Sarma, Jayaraman, S.K. Chawla, the superintending engineer and M.K. Rishi, the architect who designed the actual stadium, all feel that it has been a joint effort. “It has been a period of considerable tension and trauma,” they chorus, “the short time span has limited our work but it is still a matter of great pride and satisfaction.”The Asiad limelight will fall squarely on the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, a sprawling, saucer-like structure spread over a 100-acre plot in the heart of the city with a seating capacity of 75,000, which will stage the Games’ glamour events – the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics and football. Scheduled to be completed in the incredible time span of 20 months, this stadium is of Olympic standards with an eight-lane synthetic track girding a green football field. Towering above the stadium like giant insects are four steel towers, each 57.5 metres high, which will provide the lighting for the stadium to facilitate colour TV transmission and floodlit events.Each headframe perched at the end of the towers is the size of a tennis court and consists of 172 metal Halide lamps of 2 kw each and 84 Halogen lamps of 1 kw each. A giant scoreboard, 9 metres high, of the matrix type will flash out instant results in English and Hindi as well as black and white pictures. It will be connected to a computer-controlled micro-processor. The scoreboard will also be connected to a computer terminal which will enable it to display almost instant results of events taking place at other venues. It will be supplied and operated by Seiko.Other, no less ambitious projects include the Games Village which is virtually a township and will accommodate about 5,000 athletes and officials. The houses themselves are easily the best design that the DDA has evolved so far, with a theatre for the performing arts, a giant reception centre, a dining area capable of feeding 2,000 people at a time, a discotheque, and a 60-foot water tower with a restaurant and viewing gallery.Test: Though the Asiad infrastructure is almost complete except for the cosmetic applications, the real test will lie in the running of the Games, which will be handicapped by India’s relative inexperience. Organising, and monitoring an event as gigantic as the Asiad is an unenviable exercise that will entail the use of 2,600 technical officials, 2,000 general officials, 1,000 ushers, 2,000 men from the Indian army and the BSF for security and 600 people as liaison officers and receptionists. “We are not claiming that it will be an easy task but we have identified all the possible problem areas and I think we will be able to pull it off,” says Bhalindra Singh.The actual cost of running the 15-day Games has been optimistically estimated at around Rs 15 crore but the SOC, if it plays its cards right, should earn more than that from various sources. In fact, one prime example of the SOC’s inexperience is that they were convinced that the major source of revenue would be from the sale of tickets. It was only much later that it dawned on them that the Asiad is big business. The biggest money-spinner is the sale of television advertising rights and arena advertising inside the various stadia. A Dubai firm, Metco, has agreed to pay $6 million (Rs 5.4 crore) for arena advertising rights while a Los Angeles-based company, Vipin Sehgal and Associates, have guaranteed a like sum. Together, the revenue from that and sponsorship of various TV programmes by multinational companies will net the SOC over Rs 10 crore.Revenues: Foreign television rights have already been sold to the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union and the Arab States Broadcasting Union for around Rs 21 lakh. In addition, the franchising of the logo and the emblem of the Games will bring in another Rs 50 lakh. The sale of tickets is expected to bring in another Rs 1.5 crore since five Indian banks will pay the SOC five lakh each to get their names printed on the back of the tickets.Mikasa of Japan, the famous ball manufacturers, will also pay Rs 7 lakh for the privilege of having their names printed on the rear of the tickets in addition to supplying $60,000 (Rs 5.4 lakh) for royalty fees as “official ball suppliers to the Games”. Mikasa will also supply 500 balls each for football, volleyball, handball, water polo and basketball.Similarly, a total of $110,000 (Rs 9.9 lakh) in cash and sporting goods will be supplied by top sports manufacturers like Asics, Dunlop, Yonex, Garuda and Canon. Gill estimates that the eventual revenue from the Games should wind up around the Rs 17 crore mark. Little wonder then, that India has already made a bid for staging the 1983 Afro-Asian Games and is also hopeful of staking a powerful claim for the 1992 Olympics as well. But that is really putting the cart before the horse.One major area where the SOC has been slack is in the pre-publicity of the Games. Very few people outside Delhi have an idea of what the Games are all about or what the achievements have been so far. Tarlochan Singh, the public relations head of the SOC, admits that they have been lax in publicising the Games, or exploiting the souvenirs and mascots for commercial purposes.Publicity: The SOC, however, has an answer to that accusation. Buta Singh and Gill say that the publicity has been deliberately low-keyed because of accommodation restrictions. “We can easily get 50,000 visitors for the Games but if there is no accommodation for them they will go back with a bad image of us,” says Gill, SOC estimates that the maximum accommodation available for the Games will be 6,500 rooms.So far, travel agencies and hotels report a negligible amount of bookings for the Asiad but it is certain to pick up in the months ahead, particularly from Japan which is expected to walk away with a major share of the medals. Current indications are that there will be at least 10,000 spectators from outside Delhi who will be here for the Games but many of those from inside the country will probably make their own arrangements with relatives and friends. The delay in producing the tickets means that they will go on sale only next month, barely four months before the start of the Games.As it is, the pre-Asiad preparations have produced some bitter lessons, apart from the laxity in the publicity campaign. Even inside the maze-like offices in Pragati Maidan that house the SOC headquarters, the organisation is derisively referred to as “Sikh Organising Committee”, a none too subtle dig at the number of turbaned heads that occupy the jerry-built offices.Many of the occupants have found their way there because of political connections rather than any specific merit. Gill, the operational head, has antagonised a number of SOC employees because of his autocratic behaviour and his bureaucratic approach to problems. Last fortnight, Lt-General Harbuksh Singh, a distinguished army officer, quit the SOC because of differences with Gill and at least three others have preceded him for the same reason.Indian sports history is littered with disaster stories all involving the excessive concentration of members of a particular community and it might be advisable to avoid such concentrations if only to keep events like the Asiad free from further controversies. It is also questionable whether a full-time politician like Buta Singh, despite his status as head of the Amateur Athletic Federation, should be put in charge of similar projects. Buta Singh may have contributed much to the success of Asiad but his political duties bar him from giving off his best.Slogan: The SOC has also been taken to task for the “junkets” its officials have been on. Originally, Air-India had agreed to provide 200 free tickets for Asiad officials but by last month, according to SOC figures, 225 tickets had already been utilised, all under the catch-all heading of learning from the experiences of previous major sporting events held elsewhere. The favourite destinations have been Los Angeles, Montreal, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Moscow. In fact, a popular slogan doing the rounds goes: “Join Asiad and see the world.”The question of whether India is capable of getting ready for the Games on time has disappeared but it has been replaced by one that is equally vital and looms as large – whether India can stage a successful Asiad. Politics rendered the Olympics in Munich and Moscow a disaster and though the Asiad should be free of political handicaps barring the tension between two participants, Iran and Iraq, anything could happen. Shankaran Nair, the man in charge of Asiad security, insists that all possible precautions have been taken and all visitors will be thoroughly screened, apart from the stadia being searched one hour before opening each day to avert possible bomb threat hoaxes.But security alone is not the only headache that Asiad ’82 will face. The Lok Dal and George Fernandes & Co have threatened to launch protests against the Games though most people are hoping that better sense will prevail. After all, Asiad ’82 is India’s big bid for international stardom. For 15 days, New Delhi will be making international headlines, for an event that, in terms of prestige, is the biggest stakes India has played for in a long time. November will be the moment of truth.
New Delhi: The coal ministry on Monday inked an agreement with West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd for allotment of Deocha Pachami Dewanganj-Harinsingha coal block. The project is expected to address the immediate and future coal and power requirements of the region. “The central government entered into an allotment agreement with the West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL) regarding the Deocha Pachami Dewanganj-Harinsingha coal block today,” the coal ministry said. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalIn accordance with the provisions of Coal Block Allocation Rules, 2017, made under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957, the WBPDCL has been allocated the the coal block located in West Bengal containing an area of 12.28 sq km with estimated reserves of 2102 MT for power generation. The project is slated to generate both direct and indirect employment in West Bengal considerably and also contribute to the socio-economic development of the region. Further, the project envisages to address the immediate as well as the forthcoming coal and power requirements.
TORONTO — Royal Bank of Canada reported fourth-quarter net income of $3.25 billion up from $2.84 billion a year ago to mark a new record annual profit of $12.4 billion.The Toronto-based bank’s latest results were driven by strong performances in its personal and commercial banking, capital markets, wealth management and insurance.The bank’s profit for the three-month period ended Oct. 31 amounted to $2.20 per diluted share, up from $1.88 per share a year ago.On an adjusted cash basis, the bank says it earned $2.24 per share, up from $1.92 in the same period in 2017.Analysts on average had expected earnings per share of $2.12, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.For its full financial year, Canada’s biggest lender by market capitalization reported net income of $12.4 billion up roughly eight per cent from $11.5 billion in 2017.“Our diversified business and geographic mix delivered good revenue growth, while we prudently managed risk and delivered a premium return on equity,” Dave McKay, RBC president and CEO, said in a statement.“Looking ahead, we remain focused on investing in our people and technology, and offering more personalized insights and connectivity to deliver more value for both our clients and shareholders.” Companies in this story: (TSX:RY)The Canadian Press