What pride in robbing India of its wealth?
On May 14, 2010, the Times of India, quoting an NGO audit, reported that the cost of this year’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi had escalated by a whopping 1,575%. The report said:
In the case of Delhi's Commonwealth Games, official cost estimates have gone up by a whopping 525% since the city won the bid. Unofficial assessments put the escalation at a mindboggling 1575% -- that is more than 15 times the original estimate -- according to an independent report.By end-July officials associated with the Games were admitting that total costs would be upward of Rs 35,000 crore. If the cost of various infrastructure projects (including extension of Metro services, power plants, etc) meant to showcase Delhi as a ‘worldclass city’ were to be taken into account, the grand total would shoot up to nearly Rs 1,00,000 crore.
India's bid document for the Commonwealth Games in 2003 estimated the cost of hosting the event at Rs 1,899 crore. After several revisions the estimates now range from an official figure of Rs 10,000 crore to independent experts at an astounding Rs 30,000 crore.
The construction and renovation work was undertaken by agencies of the Delhi Government, run by the Congress. The ‘preparations’ include relaying of perfectly good roads which are now sinking under cars and buses, paving pavements that were spanking new, digging up vast stretches of the city and then leaving things that way, giving Delhi a bombed-out look.
The various stadia where the Games are to be held are still in a shambles after extensive ‘renovation’. Roofs are leaking, walls are damp, toilets are non-functional and premises are littered with debris and uncovered power cables that are a death trap. Many of the venues have not been checked for fire safety.
A CVC report lists the lapses in detail. The Delhi Government has no credible response.
What began as the rape of Yamuna when the Delhi Government colluded with real estate firms to violate all environment norms to build the Sports Village on the river’s floodbanks (the apartments will be later sold at astronomical sums to those who can also grease palms) has turned into an open loot.
The Organising Committee is now found to have its snout in the trough too. Its budget alone is more than Rs 1,000 crore. Where’s this money going?
.A treadmill is being hired for 45 days for Rs 9.75 lakh. A cross trainer for Rs 8.8 lakh.
.Diesel power will be generated at Rs 80 per unit at some Commonwealth Games venues. .The market rate is less than a tenth of this.
.Umbrellas are being ‘hired’ at Rs 6,308 each.
.Chairs are being rented at Rs 8,378 for a month-and-a-half each.
.Tissue rolls are being purchased at Rs 4,138 each.
This is not all. An unknown London-based firm was hired, without any contract being signed and on the basis of what now transpires to be a forged e-mail, allegedly sent by a junior staff at the Indian High Commission in London, for services like the Queen’s Baton Relay for an astronomical sum. Curiously, the firm continues to be paid every month.
An IANS report informs us that the scandal surfaced with:
... British tax authorities wanting to know if there were any discrepancies in the payments made to AK Films by the Organising Committee for the services rendered.
Their attention was drawn to the payments when the OC approached them this March for a VAT refund of 14,000 pounds for the payments.
It is claimed that the firm and its sister concern, AM Car and Van Hire, were paid nearly 450,000 pounds by the OC. The British authorities apparently claimed that 25,000 pounds was continuing to be paid into the firm's account.
On his part, the firm's owner Ashish Patel denied receiving the monthly amounts and said the OC had paid him only 247,000 pounds and still owed him 147,000 pounds towards transport rental costs.
Similarly, the Organising Committee has signed a strange deal with a Singapore-based ‘marketing firm’ to secure sponsorships and revenue for the Delhi Games. A clause in the contract entitles the firm to a percentage of all sponsorship revenues. The firm till date has not secured any sponsorship for the Games, but it has made a huge amount by way of its commission from money given by PSUs, under instructions from parent Ministries in the UPA Government, as ‘sponsorship’.
There’s more to the shame and the scandal. The Delhi Government is now found to have diverted Rs 744 crore from Budget funds meant for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe welfare to the Commonwealth Games. Diversion of these funds are not allowed.
For further details, read It’s Common V/S Wealth, an excellent, well-documented report of an independent inquiry into the loot in the name of organising the Commonwealth Games.
All this amounts to no more than the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Easily this is the biggest ever scandal in independent India. People are being told not to talk about the loot of public money under the watch of the Congress Government of Delhi and the Congress-led UPA Government as the Commonwealth Games are a matter of “national pride”.
I see no ‘national pride’ in hosting a 12-day bogus sports event (even Asiad takes precedence over Commonwealth Games) which is a cover for looting India of thousands of crores of rupees. A country where 37 per cent of the people live in appalling poverty and millions barely keep body and soul together such criminal loot of taxpayer money is a matter of national shame.