Costliest games so far at over Rs 60,000 crore!

Costliest games so far at over Rs 60,000 crore!

When Union Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy and Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister M S Gill repeatedly promised during the recently concluded monsoon session of Parliament that money was not the constraint to make Commonwealth Games a success, contractors and bureaucrats involved in the preparations for the mega event must have been elated.  

Indeed, the ministers kept their promise and the government pumped in crores of rupees for the various CWG projects and money will continue to flow till the games conclude.

With all this spending, Delhi Commonwealth Games has virtually turned into the costliest sports event ever to be held in the world. Though the exact spend for the event will be known only after the completion of the games, a conservative estimate puts it at more than Rs 60,000 crore.  

When the BJP government led by A B Vajpayee first planned to bid for the Commonwealth Games, the estimated budget was only Rs 617.5 crore. But in 2003 when Delhi submitted its official bid, the cost estimates had jumped to Rs 1,895.3 crore. Now, with the games round the corner, it is expected that the total expenditure will cross a staggering Rs 60,000 crore, almost Rs 20,000 crore more than Central Government’s spending on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) schemes to provide minimum job security to the poor each year. 

Cost overrun

Minister S Jaipal Reddy, in Parliament, quoted Rs 28,054 crore as the total expenditure for the CWG, but officials in the Urban Development Ministry say cost overrun is manifold due to various reasons, especially in the past one month.

Why has the Commonwealth Games become such a costly affair for India, while Australia spent Rs 5,000 crore for Melbourne CWG in 2006, CWG Manchester in 2002 cost Rs 2,100 crore and the same event scheduled at Glasgow in 2014 is estimated to incur a cost of just Rs 2,200 crore.

The reason best known to everybody is the unholy nexus between people in power and the contractors, the latter virtually hijacking the event causing huge embarrassment to the nation.

India won the bid to host the games in New Delhi in November 2003, which was heartily welcomed by the then Opposition party Congress. Unfortunately, for the first four years the files related to the games kept shuttling between sports ministry and Indian Olympic associations. After a long tussle between the two outfits on various issues, including designing stadiums and other sports infrastructure, the actual works started only in 2007-08.

Despite 20 government agencies pertaining to Sports, Urban Development, Tourism, Health and Home Ministry being involved in works, there was sheer lack of co-ordination among them.

After sensing that there was delay in preparations, the UPA Government had constituted a Group of Ministers. Still, there is no central authority and no one knows who is responsible. When shoddy work was exposed, everybody at the helm of power were virtually running for cover.

Blank cheque

Interestingly, while bidding for the Games, the then BJP Government promised the Commonwealth Federation it would pay for any shortfall between revenues and expenditure of the Organising Committee. As per its assurance, the Central Government had given funds to the tune of Rs Rs 2,394 crore to the Organising Committee as an unsecured loan to be repaid only after revenues start coming in. This means, the OC, a private non-profit body had got a virtual blank cheque from the government to conduct the games after taking over venues from the government agencies.

Now, with criticism intensifying against the OC for poor handling of the affairs, Kalmadi says he will return every penny received from the government. But officials say returning the fund would not be easy as OC itself is entangled in many a scam leading to the suspension of three top officials recently.

Ultimately, for playing host to the games, the capital’s residents will have to bear the cross as civic agencies are talking of upping taxes to recover the expenditure. With power, water and bus tariff already raised, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit now says, “As the infrastructure created for the games will benefit the public, people  have to pay for it.”

Corruption smear

With the allegation that unprecedented corruption involving big guns of the Government had delayed the games preparation, Sports Minister Gill promised to conduct a detailed inquiry and punish the guilty. However, the inquiry will be conducted only after the completion of the games as the government wants it to be  smooth sailing and does not fancy any hitch at this stage.

Though three top officials of the Organising Committee have been suspended and several have been reprimanded for nepotism and other charges, it is learnt that the government has quietly asked the CBI and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to begin the ground work for a full-scale inquiry into huge corruption that has taken place, mainly in awarding contracts for construction works and purchase of materials.

Money flows like the Yamuna 

Total budget: Rs 60,000 crore.
Sport Infrastructure: Rs 4,500 crore.
Organising Committee: Rs 2,394 crore.
Security and traffic: Rs 747 crore.
Information and Broadcasting
Ministry: Rs 487 crore.
Health Ministry: Rs 747 crore.
Telecommunication network: Rs 182 crore
Delhi infrastructure improvement: Rs 40,943 crore
(including metro rail construction, new power stations, flyovers, roads, drainage, water supply, city beautification and purchase of buses).
Others: Rs 10,000 crore. 

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