The Organising Committee (OC) of the Commonwealth Games on Saturday rubbished charges of financial irregularities, saying it had nothing to hide.
OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi said the ‘Times Now' report claiming corruption during the launching of the Queen's Baton Relay (QBR) in London in October last was baseless and the OC was going to take legal action, including a defamation suit, against the television channel.
“I am deeply pained to hear such baseless allegations. I totally deny the malicious broadcast. It is bad for the morale of the OC team,” Kalmadi said at a crowded press conference here.
“I stand before you with clear conscience and complete conviction. We believe in total transparency. We have not received any official letter either from India or England,” he said.
Kalmadi said though the total budget approved for the QBR in London was Rs 13 crore, the OC spent only Rs six crore. “The budget was approved by the Executive Board and the permission of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was taken in this regard,” he said.
The fact that the OC asked the British Government for a VAT refund of £61,419 showed that the OC had nothing to hide, Kalmadi argued.
Kalmadi said event management company Jack Morton Worldwide was appointed as the agency to conduct the function in London while another company South Asia Academy, UK, had been entrusted with the task of organising the cultural programme.
He said services of AM Cars and Vans was hired because the company was empanelled by the Indian High Commission in London. “One Raju Sebastian of the Indian High Commission, on October 13, had written to us about the company and we went ahead with it. The payments were made as per the High Commission rates,” Kalmadi said.
He said altogether £238,093.56 was paid to the company and after October 30 it had not been paid anything, apparently referring to the charge that £25,000 were being paid into the account of AM Films, a sister concern of AM Cars, every month, for costume designing.
Kalmadi, however, said that video screens were procured from AM Films at the cost of £146,868.80.
“On October 23, during a meeting chaired by Tim Owen, Westminster City Council, and attended by the officials of metropolitan police, London Traffic Control Centre, London fire brigade, ambulances services and authorities of the Buckingham Palace, we were told that additional items like mobile video screens, portable toilets, ambulances, barricades, etc had to be placed at the launch site without which the authorities would not allow us to hold the programme.
“Since we were convinced with one company, we went ahead with another (sister) company,” he said.
Though he agreed to provide the break-up of expenditure for items delivered by AM Films and AM Cars, Kalmadi could not do so. He said he would have to gather the data and would be able to give it soon.
Kalmadi admitted there was no tender process involved in hiring the services of these two companies as there was little time for it. “These were last-minute requirements, so we had to take a last-minute decision,” he said.
About the recent report on the CVC website by the Chief Technical Examiners' Organisation on the infrastructure and construction projects, Kalmadi said the OC had not been named in this and it had no role in these activities.
Amidst all adverse reports, Kalmadi expressed hope that the OC would be able to pay back the money it had taken from the Government. “Till date we have taken Rs 900 crore from the Government and we have received Rs 700 crore so far. I am going to collect the remaining amount,” he said.
The OC will take over the venues on Sunday and Kalmadi said the OC would ensure all the stadia, including the swimming pool, were in proper shape before being handed over.