Former Union Minister of State for Sports Vijay Goel on Monday appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to come clean on the issue of Commonwealth Games preparations as with just 285 days to go for the event, the Games Organising Committee, Commonwealth Games Federation chief, Union Sports Minister and Delhi Chief Minister were all making different noises about it.
“The people have the right to know what is going on. Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi says the preparations are going on as per schedule, but the Games Federation chief Mike Fennell expressed concern at the delay in the construction of the Syama Prasad Mookherjee Swimming Complex and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Likewise, Sports Minister M. S. Gill has informed Parliament that preparations would not be delayed, but Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit says she is nervous yet hopeful,” he said at a press conference.
Mr. Goel criticised the Chief Minister for playing political games in the name of Commonwealth Games. “Since 1998 Ms. Dikshit has been in power while the Games came to Delhi in 2004. All through her 11-year regime she has been laying claim to being the ‘development queen’ by claiming to have brought tremendous development to Delhi but now when the Games are fast approaching she insists that she is nervous whether all preparations would be completed on time or not.” he said.
Mr. Goel cautioned that all this could be a ploy to further increase the flow of money being spent on Games, which has already crossed the Rs. 10,500 crore mark.He said that it looks like the Delhi Government and Organising Committee would soon put aside their differences and start giving arbitrary work orders that would further escalate the cost in the name of avoiding delays.
The senior BJP leader said Mr. Fennell harsh decision that the Federation would directly control the sports centres and their technical arrangements apart from directly training the volunteers, shows that he does not find the Organising Committee professionally or technically competent. He blamed the mismanagement of the Organising Committee for bringing upon “this grave insult…on a nation whose technical expertise is praised world over.”
The BJP leader said it was also surprising that at the insistence of the Archaeological Survey of India, the construction activity for the Games near several monuments has been stopped. “ASI also comes under the Centre. First a project is approved by Government-appointed committees and then these are stopped on the ground that these panels are illegal. This only shows how honest and efficient our Congress-led Governments at the Centre and in Delhi.”
Mr. Goel said ptrevalence of corruption in the preparations has been confirmed by the Organising Committee stance in the Delhi High Court. The Commitee had engaged the Union Government in a legal battle and refused to make its accounts public on the grounds that it is an independent body.
Criticising the committee’s stance Mr. Goel said,“It (Organising Committee) has claimed that the Centre had no direct or indirect control over it and there was no funding by the Centre. If that is the case, the Prime Minister should explain whether country is spending over Rs.10,000 crore on a private event.”