Colossal chaos

Rampant corruption at every level of the organisation of the Commonwealth Games has been laid bare in a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report. The report says that almost all organisations executing infrastructure works for the Games have flouted rules in tenders and inflated prices. This means that the government has made excessive payments to contractors. This is of deep concern. Tax payers’ money is being looted. What is more, the report reveals that the quality of construction is poor. The cement used is of inferior quality and electrical installations in most stadiums have not been checked for safety. By compromising on the quality of construction, contractors are putting the lives of athletes and the public in jeopardy. When confronted with the skyrocketing budget, contractors and officials had claimed in the past that pressing deadlines had inflated budgets. But construction of several stadia is running way behind schedule. So whether it is with regard to costs, quality or deadlines, the contractors have simply not delivered.

The Games were touted by Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi and others as a grand event that would showcase the new India’s capacity to hold a world-class event. However, showcasing such capacity seems a distant dream now. All that is on show is India’s corruption and chaos. The ceiling of the Yamuna stadium was blown away by a downpour and Siri Fort is leaking, while embankments at the shooting range have collapsed. Officials are blaming the monsoons for the delays and infrastructure problems.
Surely they knew that monsoons hit Delhi every year in June-July. The deadline for completion of stadium infrastructure is August 31. With barely 60 days to go for the opening of the Commonwealth Games, India is still far from ready to host the event.
But, nobody would agree with former sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s criticism about holding the Games itself and much less with his ‘wish’ that it ends as a failure. Issues like poverty and priorities cannot come in the way of holding the Games, which is a matter of national prestige. Didn’t South Africa hold the World Cup of football successfully, despite all its other problems, perhaps bigger than India’s? But what is of grave concern is that the UPA government seems to have paid scant attention to strict supervision and accountability in building the infrastructure, which would have been an asset for future development of sports in the country.

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