What do we infer from the corruption underlying the organization of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2010, which were hosted in India? The pride that India gained when it got the right to host the Games could not be stained at any price. An Organising Committee (OC) headed by Suresh Kalmadi was set up to accomplish infrastructure development and city beautification projects, which would refurbish Delhi. Meeting deadlines that would mark the commencement of the game was of crucial necessity for the Organising Committee. Not being able to finish by the particular date would have sullied the image that India wanted to project internationally-- a blemish that would forever taint its reputation in the global arena.
|Opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2010|
This image seems to be tainted now, after the corruption involved in the financial irregularities involved in the conduct of the CWG. Just days before the initiation of the Games, the Organising Committee was charged with corruption in the provision of the Games’ contracts to a UK based firm and in illegally awarding infrastructure construction contracts. This UK based firm was AM films and AM Car & Van Hire, which were run by a businessman named Ashish Patel. This firm received 247,000 pounds from the CWG OC for the completion of the work at the Queen’s Baton Relay in London last year. The UK Tax Department started an investigation into the dealings of the unaccounted money that was transferred to this company via the CWG Organising Committee. A letter was sent to the Indian High Commission in London. This in turn sparked an investigation by the Sports Committee in India after a letter was sent by Rajesh N Prasad, the Deputy High Commissioner in London.
Reports revealed that there was no written contract between the OC and the AM Films as things had to be done quickly to meet the demands of the Queen’s Baton Relay. The lack of a contract and tender process is even substantiated by Patel. Kalmadi points out that the Indian High Commission itself recommended this company. In an NDTV interview with Barkha Dutt, Kalmadi says, “it was the Indian High Commission’s letter that recommended Ashish Patel’s firm to us and the total money paid to the firm is two lakh pounds.” The Indian High Commission retorted by saying, "This company AM Films Limited was not on the panel of companies recommended by the High Commission. Raju Sebastian is an assistant in the High Commission of India, not in a position to make such a recommendation, but for the HCI (High Commission of India) to make any such statement, we need to scrutinise the email held up by Suresh Kalmadi."
This is the point where the blame game finds its scapegoat. Kalmadi has corruption charges against him, where he overshot the CWG budget by ` 450 crores. Kalmadi said that “every paisa spent on the Commonwealth Games was accounted for.” The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report found numerous flaws in the functioning of the system. Misdeeds of the OC, like awarding the Games contracts at inflated prices to bidders, poor quality of construction and granting of work to ineligible agencies of the various departments in the capital. The CVC’s Chief Technical Examination Wing report included corruption in 16 projects under the civic and construction agencies. The consequences are that Kalmadi is made responsible for this muddle.
The fact is that the OC was created by the government, but there is no mention of the latter’s responsibility for this predicament in any news report. What about Sheila Dikshit? Isn’t she a part of this mess where her role is overlooked and the censure of a massive corruption scandal is placed on the shoulders of a few people? T S Darbari, Sanjay Mahendroo and M Jayachandra have been sacked and arrested. Right now, they are in CBI remand for inquiries on charges that have been set against them. Through these investigations, the CBI learned that Kalmadi was “at the helm of affairs and all decisions were endorsed and approved by him.” What is even more ironic is that these people are arrested for the execution of the orders given to them, while the “high profile people” get away scot-free.
Compiling all the evidences together the CBI might arrest Kalmadi upon his return from the Asian Games. The funds have been provided by the Central and Delhi governments, so why does it seem that they have been unaware of all the transactions conducted by the OC? Who is to blame? This is the question that we must ask, rather than arriving at a consensus without properly judging the situation.