Stinking Games

The report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India on the 2010 Commonwealth Games, tabled in parliament, is an indictment of the Delhi government and the prime minister’s office for their role in the conduct of the Games. Some parts of the report had been leaked earlier and so all its findings did not come as a surprise. But a complete reading of the 743-report presents a shocking picture of corruption, mismanagement and favouritism in all aspects of the preparations for the Games. Till now investigations had pointed fingers at the Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi and other officials for financial misconduct. The Shunglu committee had indicated that others might also be involved. The CAG report has now widened the circle of infamy.

The report is an informative document on how the best practices and procedures are subverted for awarding expensive contracts to undeserving companies. Long delays and blatant irregularities in almost every project led to cost escalations and wasteful expenditure. None of this could be dismissed as cases of inefficacy and habitual mismanagement for which India’s authorities are known for. There was a deliberate plan and purpose in all the lapses and they pointed to a network of politicians and officials making illegal gains of hundreds of crores from the conduct of the Games. The report has noted that there was a deliberately created siege-like situation and lax supervision in the run-up to the event. While there was ample time between November 2003 when the Games were awarded to Delhi and  2010 when it was to be hosted, much time was deliberately wasted in the beginning to create a sense of urgency and hurry so that norms could be violated to favour interests.

While Kalmadi and those around him have been indicted strongly, the report has not spared others who also had a role in the  matter. Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit has come in for strong criticism for wasteful expenditure and delays in executing projects. It  shows her support for and complicity in the misconduct connected with the Games, and her position as chief minister becomes untenable now. Even the prime minister’s office acted wrongly by appointing Kalmadi as the Games committee chairman despite a note of caution from the then sports minister  Sunil Dutt. The investigations should be widened on the basis of the CAG report and all those who acted wrongly should be made answerable.

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