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|May 30, 1997||
The National Games Web address is an official secret!Salil Murthy in Bombay
The Fourth Indian National Games begin tomorrow in Bangalore and for the first time the event will be covered live on the Internet.
Only you will not be able to surf to it. Not even with the latest browser and fastest connect speeds. The reason is stupidly simple. The Web site address is a national secret!
For four days Rediff On The Net correspondents have been trying to get hold of the games URL in vain. Calling even the technical systems developers all over the country was of no help! All they could remember of the address was that it has a 'games' in it somewhere!
Not a single newspaper report or advertisement or television and radio announcements mentioned the URL.
The government owned CMC is in charge of setting up the infotech systems. Anil Kumar, their project manager in charge of the National Games, admitted to this reporter that he did not know the exact URL of the games site. "I'm sure it has 'National Games' in it, but I can't tell you exactly (what it is)."
The CMC has set up elaborate networking facilities and has leased dedicated lines from the Department of Telecommunications with all attendant frills like powerful modems and multiplexes.
But they have failed to publicise the Web site address and this seemingly small slip is now threatening to defeat the purpose of all the efforts that went into putting the games on the Internet.
It is not that the CMC is a novice at this game. It was associated with the Pan African Games in Harare and Cairo, and more recently, with the Seventh SAF Games in Madras in 1995. Then what went wrong?
Kumar was also unable to provide details about the Bangalore based Ekomate Systems which he claimed would be creating the Web site. Efforts to contact senior officials at Ekomate Systems were in vain.
Videocon, the main sponsor of National Games '97, is unaware of these details. Their Bangalore branch referred the issue to their Bombay branch, which in turn suggested that the best place to ask questions would be back at Bangalore. Quite a neat circle. Isn't it?
Kumar, however, was able to provide other technical details: "A CMC staff of 50 and a supporting staff of around 100 would be present at the 22 venues spread over Bangalore and Mysore. The software will include a database of all the 10,000 participants, including players, team managers, technical managers and organisers."
The CMC is to interact with tournament directors, judges, and referees of each competition to constantly update their reports. Kumar says "Only authorised information will be fed to the systems. For example, after a particular race, we will wait for a signed copy of the judges' score-sheet before punching it in."
But the troubles the games are facing are not just in cyberspace.
A little over a week before the start of the games, Karnataka Chief Minister J H Patel visited the various venues and said "The playing arenas are almost ready, but a lot needs to be done outside at all the venues." He, however, expressed confidence that
Now there are last minute goof-ups. That the Karnataka government is not getting value for money is apparent with prominent national athlete Rosa Kutty criticising the synthetic track at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Kutty claims that lane one of the track is bad, a fact confirmed by media reports which say that lane one is built over a gutter.
Problems have developed in the water storage facility of the stadium too. There is a leak which is letting sewage into the drinking water supply. The contract was awarded to J Changamma Naidu, a Public Works Department contractor at three quarters of a million rupees and the repairs are expected to cost another quarter of a million more.
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