The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has stepped in to rescue the
beleagured New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games 2010: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in rescue move
By Jacquelin Magnay
Published: 5:37PM BST 15 Aug 2010
The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has stepped in to rescue the beleagured New Delhi Commonwealth Games preparations amidst continuing allegations of corruption, cost overruns and fears the venues will not be finished on time.
Claims over the past week that London-based companies were awarded contracts without a rigorous tendering process have further harmed the Games’ reputation. India’s anti-corruption watchdog has started an investigation into all finances and contracts, but will not report until early next year.
With the October 3 opening ceremony just 48 days away, Singh held a series of urgent meetings over the weekend and has brought in senior political officials to oversee the final stages of the Games. The Cabinet Secretary has been given more powers to oversee the developments on a daily basis.
Mr Singh said the eyes of the world were on the country and he was planning to visit some of the venues in the last week of August to personally oversee the works, noting the slippages in time schedules and deficiences.
But the tendancies of Indian organisers and officials to blame international companies for the current woes is causing the tight-knit sports world to laugh at the Indian attempts to deflect away from the mess. Many companies have been paid a fee for the work, which is standard international practice, but are now being accused of being involved in corruption because of the size of the fee, or because of the failure of Indian organisers to have the work go through a tender process.
India’s comptroller and auditor general report has been critical of the awarding of the broadcaster rights consultancy to the highly regarded British company Fast Track, saying its appointment without evalutating other bids had resulted in a loss of US$5 million. This has been rejected by the Commonwealth Games Federation, who said Fast Track had an unrivalled reputation.
According to the Indian report, Fast Track had finalised deals amounting to US$42.87 million and was processing another agreement for $US3.36 million with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which they said, was below initial expectations.
An Australian company SMAM had its contract terminated earlier this month because the Indians said it failed to meet sponsorship targets.
Another London based company AM Films was ”roped in at the last minute on the recommendation of the Indian high commission” according to the organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi to help stage the Queens Baton Relay for which it was paid £450,000. Kalmadi has been under fire for not having a proper contract or documentation for that work. However local Indian reports suggest Kalmadi will stay in place under after the Games are finished. Three other organising committee members have recently resigned or been sacked.
Another India’s Central Vigilance Commission has also issued a report that has been damning of the construction practices at venues and some fake certification. More than 40 workers have died on the venue construction.