NEW DELHI, India, CMC-IANS – A 12-day sporting event, US $6 billion expenditure, 100 times cost escalation, 15 cases registered, 200 people questioned, 25 arrests, including of the top man.
The skeletons of the 19th Commonwealth Games have not stopped tumbling out of the closet, with India’s premier probe agency saying more cases were likely to be registered.
Investigations into the conduct of India’s biggest sporting event began just 10 days after it ended in the capital October 13, 2010.
While India finally pulled off the event with aplomb, the run-up was widely criticised for shoddy infrastructure that crumbled in the face of heavy rains, missed deadlines coupled with allegations of irregularities worth crores.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the irregularities, has arrested former organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi.
”The agency is still investigating and a few more cases will be registered,” CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra told IANS.
A top CBI official said, “We are waiting for a report from the home ministry before filing a fresh FIR relating to construction of the Games Village.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up a high-level panel headed by V.K. Shunglu, a former Comptroller and Auditor General, to look into the irregularities.
The two-member Shunglu panel in its six reports indicted Kalmadi for running the OC “like a club” with little accountability, besides Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejender Khanna, suspended Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer B.S. Lalli, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, and various government agencies.
India’s official auditor, the CAG, also looked into the irregularities, putting the cost of the event at over US $6 billion, nearly 100 times more than the original figure.
In its 743-page report, spread over 33 chapters, the CAG severely indicted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Office and the Sheila Dikshit government for deep flaws and financial losses in the conduct of the Games.
It said while the PMO erred in appointing Kalmadi as OC chief, the city government’s delays in decision making cost the national exchequer heavily.
It alleged discrepancies in projects related to streetscaping, street-lighting, procuring low-floor buses, construction of bus shelters and the broadcasting services contract, among others.
”We have also formed a special investigative team to look into the irregularities pointed out by CAG,” a top CBI official told IANS.
In April this year, the CBI arrested Kalmadi and various OC officials for alleged financial irregularities in executing the contracts. They are now lodged in Tihar Jail.
The agency has so far submitted charge sheets in three cases before the special court set up to look into the CWG cases.
On May 20, the CBI in its first charge sheet named nine accused, including Kalmadi, OC former secretary general Lalit Bhanot, and former director general V.K. Verma.
CBI Special Judge Talwant Singh took cognisance of the charge sheet on May 23 for their alleged role in the irregular award of a contract to a Swiss firm for installation of Timing-Scoring-Result system for the sporting event.
Indicting Kalmadi and others, the CBI in its charge sheet said: “Kalmadi is the main accused as he was the person with all supreme powers.”
In its second charge sheet filed July 29, the agency named four Municipal Corporation of Delhi employees, a private firm, its two co-promoters and an official of Philips (India) for allegedly conspiring by inflating bills for upgrading the street-lighting system.
The agency on September 12 filed a third charge sheet in the additional sessions court in Pune against officers of The Central Institute of Road Transport, Ashok Leyland and Pragati Hightech Products for allegedly hatching a criminal conspiracy and providing sub-standard buses to the Delhi Transport Corporation.
The agency will soon file a charge sheet in the AM Films and AM vans case which relates to the alleged fudging of transport payments for the Queens Baton Relay in London as part of Commonwealth Games ceremonies, CBI officials say.
The agency, in an attempt to expedite its probe, had also sent several teams to various countries, including France and England, to private firms which bagged the contracts in partnership with their Indian arms.