Even as the government was prepared for trouble from Telangana activists at the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity, it was not the T-men who marred the day but the Gurgaon-based MCI Management India Pvt Ltd, the event organiser appointed by the Centre.
Frequent power cuts which were attributed to ‘technical glitches’ plagued the media centre at Hall 3 of the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC).
Malfunctioning projectors prevented the media from getting a ringside view of the day’s proceedings. Moreover, the website, which was to provide a live streaming of the events, was blocked. Besides the evident lack of preparedness, the sky high prices of food in the premises surprised volunteers and visitors.
A sandwich cost Rs 350 while a cup of coffee cost Rs 60. Most of the staff and non-delegates made a beeline for the canteen at the National Academy of Construction which served subsidized food. They were forced to hitch a ride to the canteen located roughly 2 km from the main venue as the shuttle service was sporadic at best.
Of the 500 volunteers, mostly graduate students trained by the National Green Corps (NGC), only 160 were present at the venue. “The 60 volunteers who were assigned to accompany delegates to the venue were not issued the special pass for entry into the UN security zone. Many of the other volunteers did not receive their passes till late in the evening and had to miss the first day of the conference,” said a student volunteer waiting in queue at the canteen.
Some of the volunteers were so irked that they threatened to boycott the event.
“If they did not bother to issue passes on time, how can we be assured of payment at the end of 19 days of work?” asked a volunteer on condition of anonymity.