GAMES WATCH: State yet to act on Games audit report – PAG detected several instances of financial bungling

GAMES WATCH: State yet to act on Games audit report – PAG detected several instances of financial bungling – to have your cake and eat it too ?!!

Money down the Drain - with obviously no political fallout ?!!

BY SUMAN K. SHRIVASTAVA

Ranchi, Aug. 12: Heads may have begun to roll as misdeeds of members of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee are exposed one by one in Delhi, closer home, the principal accountant general’s (PAG) report on large-scale bungling in affairs of the 34th National Games appears to have been pushed under the carpet.

The audit was carried out by the PAG’s office on the directions of former Governor Syed Sibtey Razi between April 1, 2008, and December 7, 2009, after allegations of financial irregularities poured in against the National Games Organising Committee (NGOC).

In fact, Raj Bhavan, during the first spell of President’s rule, had ordered a vigilance probe against the then sports director, P.C. Mishra, in November 2009, following allegations of financial impropriety. Mishra also happened to be the director of NGOC.

Vigilance DSP Madhusudan Bari was made the investigating officer. In the last week of March, Bari was handed over the PAG report to expand the scope of investigation.

“We are verifying the documents and have also sought further information from the NGOC. We will be able to make a case in a fortnight or so,” Bari told The Telegraph today.

Inspector-general (vigilance) M.V. Rao, however, admitted that there had not been much headway in the investigations. “I have suggested some measures to the DGP to speed up matters,” he said, refusing to elaborate.

Governor’s adviser V.S. Dubey, in the meantime, told The Telegraph that he had called for the file concerned. “We will be able to take further action only after examining the available documents,” Dubey, also in-charge of the vigilance department, said.

PAG had detected gross anomalies in awarding tenders for purchasing sports goods, allotting caterers, transporting sportspersons and officials, engaging volunteers, housekeeping and allotting event management jobs.

Incidentally, the PAG scope of investigation was confined to purchase of sports goods and tenders awarded for other allied services. It did not pertain to construction of infrastructure for the Games.

As of now, over Rs 700 crore worth of infrastructure is ready. It comprises nine stadiums, a sports hostel and around 1,200 flats at the Mega Sports Complex. Besides, the renovated Birsa Munda Stadium and the astroturf hockey stadium, both at Morabadi, and squash and handball courts in Dhanbad are also ready.

The 34th National Games, originally scheduled for November 2007, has already been postponed five times, and is now tentatively scheduled for December.

The PAG had also objected to payment of Rs 50 lakh to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as royalty for postponement of the 34th National Games.

Though the NGOC justified the payment on the grounds of a provision in the Host City contract signed by the state with IOA, the PAG report said the NGOC was required to establish the amount of damage caused due to default by the organising committee.

“NGOC should have similarly asked the IOA to prove the damage caused to it due to deferment of the Games,” the report said.

The audit also detected gross anomalies in awarding the tender for providing vehicles for transportation of sportspersons and officials and pointed to excess payments to the tune of Rs 3.47 crore.

Significantly, the NGOC office-bearers have consistently dismissed the PAG report as inconsequential and one that dwells on procedural technicalities, even justifying cost escalations as the “price to ensure quality”.

In fact, a high-level committee headed by Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay was constituted by the IOA in order to resolve the issue between the state and NGOC after the PAG report.

NGOC organising secretary S.M. Hashmi said the Games had to be held according to the terms and conditions of the Host City contract and keystone of the contract was autonomy for NGOC.

“We have prepared the replies to the objections raised by PAG. We hope Raj Bhavan will send it to PAG soon,” he told The Telegraph from New Delhi.

A scandal a day, but the chief remains unfazed – Price for IOA affiliation: accept Kalmadi’s men! – way to go, if the heat is too much then just get out of the kitchen, just don’t tolerate nonsense ?!!

Shera the Games Mascot - ashamed to be Indian ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI

Calcutta: A scandal a day, at least, but Suresh Kalmadi remains unfazed.

As for the gutsy Pargat Singhs, they can keep screaming that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president represents the “dirty face” of sport in the country.

That’s because accountability is as alien to sport administrators in India as is, say, discipline on and off the field in cricket across our Western border.

Kalmadi, a Congress MP with a history of somersaults, has been running the IOA from 1996, when he ended B. Sivanthi Adityan’s reign. Today, Adityan is happy controlling volleyball, one of the 35 national sports federations affiliated to the apex body for Olympic disciplines.

Being a politician, Kalmadi is well versed in the art of flourishing and survival (when the going gets as hot as the Sahara at its most searing). How else does one explain the silence of Vijay Kumar Malhotra, the Archery Association of India chief…

Why Malhotra? Because he’s a veteran in the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been hauling Kalmadi and Manmohan Singh’s government over the coals ever since the Commonwealth Games scams began to surface.

Malhotra, incidentally, has been heading his association from — believe it or not — 1978! Sachin Tendulkar, by the way, was five years old then.

Clearly, the IOA is a ‘restricted’ club and newcomers/aspirants must toe the Kalmadi line. If not, then either affiliation won’t be granted or ‘punishment’ meted out. As for the freebies (junkets a prominent form), forget about them.

The experience of one of the sports bodies seeking affiliation to the IOA is revealing. Somewhat chilling, as well.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Kalmadi didn’t himself interact with the body’s president, but an emissary was blunt: Affiliation would be granted, but the officials nominated to represent it at the (quadrennial) elections of the IOA would have to be men of the supremo’s choice.

As direct as that, for it’s all about votes in sport, too. Each of the national sports federations is worth three votes, while every state Olympic association has two votes in the IOA.

Each vote may become crucial, as a Jagmohan Dalmiya would confirm. The next elections in the IOA are due in 2012.

Sources didn’t exactly spell it out, but it’s possible that Kalmadi would have got just one of his men on board, possibly as the vice-president, and he’d then “carry” the remaining two votes as proxy.

It’s not a small game and there’s a price to pay.

Last heard, the sports body referred to had apparently decided not to pursue the affiliation issue. “It’s bizarre… Why should Kalmadi or anybody else decide who all will represent us in the IOA?” asked somebody, rather cut up.

Excellent question, but how many ask that?

Kalmadi has been known to pack the affiliates with officials swearing allegiance to him. Despite being in absolute control (till the scandals erupted, that is), insecurity seems to persist.

Why else would the head of a sports body seeking affiliation be told that its representatives at the IOA elections would have to be Kalmadi’s men?

Or, is it all about power and more power? And being so brazen about it.

Whatever, as the Commonwealth Games build-up has shown, the IOA president has certainly done his bit to damage national pride on the pretext of, well, enhancing it.

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