Corruption scandal hits 2010 Games, organisers deny charges

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New Delhi:  Only two months before India's big sporting moment, the Commonwealth Games (CWG) have been hit hard by a huge corruption scandal and some tough questions from Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, who wants an explanation on delays, costs and corruption.

From UK comes a letter written by Deputy High Commissioner of India in London, Rajesh N Prasad, to the Sports Ministry about allegations of corruption made by the UK government, which says that 25,000 pounds sent from the CWG in India to a company, AM films, in UK, is unaccounted for.

The UK government raised a red flag after it followed the money trail from the CWG accounts in India to AM Films. The UK tax office then wrote to the Indian High Commission on June. The UK Government has launched an investigation into the matter.

Sources have told NDTV that the Cabinet Secretary on Saturday cancelled a prescheduled visit to the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee allegedly because of Central Vigilance Commission findings on corruption within the committee. The Cabinet Secretary was supposed to review Games preparations and deadlines.

ORGANISING COMMITTEE DENIES CHARGES


The Secretary General of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, Lalit Bhanot has denied all charges. He says," No improper payments made to any UK firm and all money was paid after RBI's clearence." (Watch)

Bhanot  says the matter may have arisen after the Organising Commitee asked the UK govt to return about 67,000 pounds as value added tax (VAT). He admitted that the services of some London-based company were taken to organise the Queen's Baton relay in London.

In a press release, the Organising Committe further said that the accounts were settled before the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi left London. The allegation that Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi makes payments of 25,000 pounds every month to AM Films UK Ltd is baseless and incorrect.

This even as an assessment report prepared by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) back home says large-scale procedural violations, including corruption, have been noticed in 16 CWG projects worth about Rs 2,000 crore. The CVC has asked the CBI to register a corruption case.

And sources say Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar has written to the CWG Organising Committee expressing concern at delays and plans. KM Chandrashekhar would make an on-the spot assessments of CWG sites and Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi would be asked for an explanation, the sources said.

But Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said earlier in the day that the Commonwealth Games were on track and that there was no need to panic.

"The work is going on and I will take care of it as Chief Minister. There is no need to panic. I believe these will be the best ever Games. The way we are going, we will be able to save money rather than overspend," she said. (Watch: No need to panic, says Sheila Dikshit)

She, however, refused to comment on the CVC Report saying accountability would be fixed only after the Games were conducted successfully.

CVC REPORT ON CORRUPTION

The CVC report has asked the CBI to register a corruption case against certain MCD officials in connection with irregularities in a tender issued for a Commonwealth Games project worth several crores. There are reports that the Central Vigilance Commission has asked the CBI to probe certain transactions of the Games.

Official sources said a letter of complaint has been sent to the CBI asking for a probe into alleged criminal conspiracy by unknown MCD officials while granting work for upgradation of street lighting in the national capital.

They said the contractor who had got the job after quoting the lowest amount for the project was later allegedly allowed to change the figures to earn more profit.

However, the exact amount of profits made by the contractor could not be ascertained but officials believe it may run up to Rs 20 crore.

The CVC has found serious discrepancies like award of works at higher rates to bidders, poor quality of construction and grant of work to ineligible agencies in different Games-related construction works being carried out by various departments in the capital.

As per the assessment report prepared by the CVC's Chief Technical Examination Wing, large-scale procedural violations, including corruption, have been noticed in 16 projects.

The cost of the projects has been estimated to be about Rs 2,000 crore.

Six of them are being done by Public Works Department (PWD), three by Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), two each by Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and one by RITES, a Government of India Enterprise, the report said.

The CTE Wing has made the assessment of construction projects following complaint of alleged corruption in them.

The CVC has asked Chief Vigilance Officers to re-examine all the tenders and procurement process related to the projects.

According to the report, "Almost all the organisations executing works for Commonwealth Games have considered inadmissible factors to jack-up the reasonable price to justify award of work at quoted rates citing urgent or emergent circumstances. Despite higher rates, poor site management and delays and quality compromises have been observed."

(With PTI inputs)

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