ED to question Games officals

Centre orders confiscation of Rs 183 cr bank guarantee to top building company

ED to question Games officals

After the embarrassing splurges and financial excesses that went into the Commonwealth Games, the country’s investigating agencies moved into top gear on Wednesday to nail officials not only in the Organising Committee (OC) but also in other government departments for alleged corruption and financial irregularities.

The investigating authorities, led by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which on Wednesday appeared to close in on some key OC office-bearers and decided to interrogate them in a FEMA case, and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) seized files relating to various construction projects undertaken by the CPWD and DDA, in an effort to expose the immense waste and corruption.

Not a bystander

Not to be viewed as a mute bystander, the Centre directed confiscation of Rs 183 crore bank guarantee furnished by Emaar-MGF, a private building contractor, against whom legal action has already been ordered after irregularities and deficiencies were detected in the Games Village which had become an eyesore following complaints of bad construction and poor hygienic conditions.

The direction means Emaar-MGF, which claims to have built the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, cannot encash the bank guarantee. But refuting charges of construction deficiency, Emaar-MGF said the Commonwealth Games Village was built to the “highest standards of quality and design”. In a statement it said:  “All the pertinent milestones were achieved as per our scope of work.”

The government action came on a day after DDA submitted an interim report to  the Urban Development Ministry in which it said there were “various deficiencies” and “irregularities” in construction of the Village and the builder had exceeded the permissible limits of construction.

BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal, whose premises were searched by Income Tax officials on Tuesday, refuted corruption charges and accused the government of making him a “political scapegoat” and indulging in a “witch-hunt”.

Claiming that his company, Delhi Tents and Decorative, did business worth only Rs 29 lakh in CWG contracts out of the Rs 77,000 crore earmarked for various projects, Mittal said: “I am being made a political scapegoat.”

He said neither he nor any of his family members were involved in CWG projects. About his links with Deepali Designs, which had bagged contracts worth about Rs 230 crore, Mittal said he had joined the company as an independent director in February this year and resigned in July.

“I have not a single share in Deepali Designs. Neither any of my immediate family members has one share in the company. There was a request made to me to join the board of the company as an independent director. I joined in February this year and left in July,” he said.

However, the BJP made no effort to stand by Mittal, with party spokesman Prakash Javadekar saying, “our stand has already been stated. We have nothing more to say.” BJP President Nitin Gadkari had virtually snubbed Mittal in a press conference on Tuesday when, in reply to a question, he said: “Who Sudhanshu Mittal? I don’t know him. We are not concerned with them. Government should take action.”

The party, however, demanded the removal of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to ensure a fair investigation into allegations of corruption. The ED will likely issue summons to OC officials, including Secretary General Lalit Bhanot, in a case of alleged foreign exchange violation related to the Queen’s Baton Relay in London. The sources said the ED wants to confront the officials with certain documents that it has laid hands on.

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