Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Common Wealth Games (CWG) Scam

The Central Vigilance Commission and the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG)   find  high level corruption in the organisation of the Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi.

The Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Delhi (3 Oct. to 14 Oct.) is mired in a controversy over high-level corruption in its organisation. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) found discrepancies in the award of contracts, poor quality of construction and misappropriation of funds. The inspection undertaken by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) found several instances of financial irregularities and loss of revenue.

In the national imagination, the CWG scandal has surpassed the Indian Premier League (IPL) controversy by many crores of rupees. However, the United Progressive Alliance government at the centre has decided to focus on hosting the Games successfully as it is seen as a question of 'national pride'. Making a late intervention, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh formed a Group of Ministers (GoM) to ensure the timely completion of all the delayed projects and to investigate corruption charges.

At the heart of the controversy lies one man Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the organising committee. Kalmadi, who was the darling of the media, has suddenly become their most visible villain. There were reports that the swimming pool, the hockey stadium and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (venue for the athletics event) were not up to international standards. The Talkatora Indoor Stadium was flooded and a false ceiling collapsed at the Yamuna Sports Complex. There were also reports that 49 labourers had died while doing the construction work. In the run-up to the games, there has been large scale eviction of slums and removal of beggars.

As soon as the controversy broke out, the organising committee suspended three people, seen as Kalmadi's aides, on August 6. Anil Khanna, treasurer of the committee, was forced to resign. The committee also suspended the joint director general, T.S.Darbari (involved in forged e-mails and inflted payoffsto A M Films). Another joint director, M.Jeychandran (a key aide of Kalmadi) was also suspended. He was the treasurer of the controversial Queen's Baton Relay programme.

The major companies that were bypassed in the tender process were Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Brilliant Entertainment Networks. The Committee cited 'prestige and honour of the country' for backing Maxxam International despite being the highest bidder. The committee made a similar favour by awarding the broadcast rights to the London-based Tast Track Sales Ltd in preference to another bidder, Sports Marketing and Management (SMAM).

The CVC report said substandard materials has been used, bids had been rigged, projects that were not required had been sanctioned, and ineligible agencies had been awarded work. G.Rajaraman, Kalmadi's press secretary blamed the Sports Ministry for delaying the release of funds in regards to the committee's inability to complete the projects on time.

Apart from the string of controversies, the CWG extravaganza will be remembered as an event that displaced many poor people, deprived many of their livelihoods, wasted taxpayer's money and left a negative social and economic legacy.

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