New Delhi: Behind the ”phenomenal success” of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) was a saga of ”enormous bungling”, ”highly irregular” practices and massive waste of public money, India’s top auditor said Friday, pointing to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and the now jailed Organising Committee (OC) chief Suresh Kalmadi.
The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) meticulously compiled report, covering 33 chapters over 743 pages, found flaws and irregularities in the entire gamut of projects and preparations leading up to the 2010 Games – right from the formation of the OC and the development of the stadia to the city’s infrastructure and the distribution of media rights.
The report, tabled in parliament earlier in the day and released later by deputy CAG Rekha Gupta, also points an unwavering finger of suspicion at Dikshit (referred to as the chief minister) and Kalmadi (who was named).
Dwelling at length on city infrastructure, the report said the “streetscaping and beautification project was ill conceived and ill planned”. The selection of consultants was “arbitrary and non-transparent”, it said, blaming Dikshit for being in the knowledge of wasteful expenditure to the tune of Rs.30 crore.
Stating that there was “active involvement of the (Delhi) chief minister”, Gupta said favours were granted to vendors who were not qualified. According to the report, contract management ahead of the Games was “highly irregular and deficient” and there were numerous instances of single tendering, with contracts awarded to “ineligible vendors”.
“The processing of certain sensitive contracts/cases was allocated in an arbitrary and ad hoc manner to certain officials who had no linkages with the concerned Functional Area,” it said.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has also been blamed for appointing Kalmadi the OC chief despite objections from the late Sunil Dutt, who was then sports minister. “In our opinion, the decision of the PMO for appointing Suresh Kalmadi as the Chairman of the OC facilitated the conversion of the originally envisaged government-owned OC into a body effectively outside governmental control.
“Despite strenuous objections from the erstwhile (Sports) Minister, late Sunil Dutt, Kalmadi was appointed the OC Chairman, based on a PMO recommendation of December 2004,” said the report.
“In the absence of a clear governance structure, a multiplicity of coordination committees were created, disbanded and reconstituted at different points of time which led to complete diffusion of accountability,” it added.
The process of tendering was inconsistent so as to favour particular bidders, Gupta told reporters while disclosing details of the report. In a detailed chapter on the functioning of the OC, the report said relations between the panel and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), of which Kalmadi continues to be chief, were blurred.
This “facilitated grant of irregular benefits to IOA at the expense of the OC through various means”. The OC chief favoured many companies, it was disclosed. The OC made “highly dubious payments”, Gupta told reporters, accusing it of “enormous bungling”.
Referring to the Queen’s Baton Relay, it said the OC made “substantial payments to highly suspect and little known entities”, AM films UK Ltd and AM Car and Van Hire Ltd. “The assignment of work and payments therefore were highly questionable, associated approvals and clearances were obtained and payments made with uncommon haste, and large amounts were also paid in cash, perhaps to avoid leaving a transaction trail,” the document stated.
There were delays at all stages, Gupta said, adding that implementing agencies were “needlessly dependent on external consultants”. Besides, there was favouritism and bias in selecting brands of sports surfaces for athletic tracks, hockey and badminton court mats “as also in the award of contracts for synthetic athletic track surfaces to Shri Naresh Sports Pvt Ltd”.
There were irregularities in event management, in the contract for signages, in the procurement of health equipment and in the streetscaping work. Discussing the controversial Games village, it said key environmental issues had not been properly addressed. “Serious irregularities” were found in the award of the contract for construction of the residential complex to Emaar MGF constructions Pvt Ltd.
“A series of misrepresentations and accommodations…resulted in Emaar MGF Constructions Pvt Ltd… emerging as an eligible through a consortium and being awarded the contract on a single financial bid.”