Commonwealth Games Officials Toured Nations 87 Times

New Delhi, Aug 2 (DHNS): A day after an unsavoury scandal involving the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee forced the Prime Minister’s Office to initiate a high-level inquiry, details of unusually high number of visits abroad by Sports Ministry officials that cost the exchequer Rs 92 lakh have come to light. 
In reply to an RTI application seeking details of foreign visits by various officials “in preparation for the Commonwealth Games,” the ministry listed 87 visits undertaken by its officials during the period 2005-2009.

The most frequent travellers were Joint Secretary S Krishnan, who went abroad 11 times in a two-year period between 2005-07, Joint Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar who made 10 foreign trips between 2007-09, and Joint Secretary I Srinivas with eight visits. Ministry Secretary S K Arora went abroad seven times.

The destinations visited included countries such as Cuba, China, Kuwait and South Korea which are not even part of the Commonwealth.

RTI applicant Abhishek Shukla had sought details of expenses, including cost of ticket, hotel stay and local travel, which the ministry refused to provide. In reply to the RTI application, Under Secretary H M Kundlia expressed his inability to specify even the purpose of the trips and local expenses. Instead, the ministry provided the consolidated expenditure on these visits, including Rs 5.35 lakh spent on Krishnan’s trip to Cuba.

Some of the expenses listed raise further questions since Krishnan’s visit to Spain is shown as costing only Rs 3,375, while the visit of Section Officer K K Paul is shown as having incurred an expense of Rs 10,463.

As these details emerged, Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Sunday refuted the claims of the Indian High Commission in London that no official recommendation was made about A M Films, the controversial UK-based firm which allegedly received lakhs of sterling pounds for its “services” during the Queen’s Baton relay in London.

Kalmadi said Raju Sebastian of the High Commission’s Protocol Division had recommended the name in response to the committee’s written query to the high commissioner.

However, the High Commission said Sebastian is too junior to make any recommendation.

“The Organising Committee would like to clarify that we had written to the Vikrant Ratan, the First Secretary ( Protocol) of the Indian High Commission, to provide the list of agencies for transportation, accommodation, and other services and their approved rates,” Kalmadi said.

According to Kalmadi, Sebastian replied to the mail sent to Ratan, and said that the approved vendors for transport were AM Car and Vans and the Chauffeur Company.

“Sebastian also indicated rates approved by the high commission,” he added.

Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy asserted on Sunday that action would be taken on the Central Vigilance Commission report on alleged corruption in constructing Commonwealth Games venues.

“Those found guilty will not be spared,” Reddy said during the inauguration of Weightlifting Auditorium at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Complex.

 “The CVC has come out with its preliminary remarks on the alleged irregularities in constructing Games venues. I assure you that all concerned would be punished. No one would be spared,” Reddy, who heads the Group of Ministers on the Games, said.

The CVC report has pointed out violation of tender rules in construction works which resulted in payments to contractors at increased rates.

According to the report, most of the organisations involved in constructing the Games infrastructure violated the rules. 


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