CWG Organising Committee Asked to Explain Delays, Deals

New Delhi, Jul 31 (IANS): Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar is understood to have asked the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee to submit details about the delays in the completion of games projects, cost overruns and deals that have attracted adverse media attention, even as a report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) about suspected irregularities hit headlines in India and London.

Official sources told IANS that Chandrasekhar Saturday cancelled a scheduled visit to the office of the organising committee (OC) in the light of the CVC reports. However, an OC official, who did not want to be identified, said the "rescheduling of the visit had nothing to do with the CVC reports".

"It was a routine visit by the cabinet secretary, which has been postponed. He may visit the OC office and sites another day," the official said.

Sources said the cabinet secretary wrote a letter to Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the OC, to explain the delays and the cost escalation in several projects. The letter follows review of the CWG preparations by Chandrasekhar Friday. He had held discussions with the officials of the sports and youth affairs ministry and other departments.

The cabinet secretary's letter comes on the heels of the CVC report and media reports that the Enforcement Directorate is trailing some of the money transactions by the OC to a London-based firm, A.M. Films, for organising the Queen's Baton relay.

The CVC report had asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register a corruption case against some Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) officials in connection with suspected irregularities in a tender issued for a CWG project involving upgradation of street lighting in New Delhi. The report said the contractor, who got the job after quoting the lowest amount for the project, was later allegedly allowed to hike the amount.

The CVC report had pointed out poor quality of construction and grant of work to ineligible agencies in several CWG-related works being carried out by various departments in the capital. As per the CVC's Chief Technical Examination Wing, large-scale procedural violations, including corruption, have been noticed in 16 projects.

Total cost of CWG constructions is estimated at Rs.2,000 crore.

Among the projects, six are undertaken by the Public Works Department (PWD), three by 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 CVC report said "almost all the organisations executing works for CWG 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."

The London scandal surfaced after the Deputy High Commissioner of India in London, Rajesh N. Prasad, wrote a letter to the sports ministry about allegations of corruption made by the British government, which said that 25,000 pounds sent from the CWG in India to a company, AM films, in Britain, was unaccounted for.

The British government raised the issue 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 in June and launched an investigation.

Lalit Bhanot, secretary general of the OC, has denied all charges, and said: "No improper payments were made to any UK firm and all money was paid after RBI's clearance."

Bhanot said the matter may have arisen after the OC asked the British government to return about 67,000 pounds as value added tax (VAT). The allegation that OC made payments of 25,000 pounds every month to AM Films UK Ltd is baseless and incorrect, he added.

CWG officials said Kalmadi will meet the media Saturday evening to clear all the "confusion and explain the status of the preparations".


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