Hit by allegations of corruption in the Commonwealth Games, the government on Sunday promised to take action against those found guilty even as another venue was inaugurated with a leaking roof.
Union Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy was in damage control mode over the Central Vigilance Commission’s report on wide scale corruption in Games’ construction projects.
“CVC has come out with preliminary remarks on the alleged irregularities in the construction of Commonwealth venues. I assure you that all concerned would be punished. Nothing would be spared. We will seriously look into it,” Mr. Reddy said during the inauguration of the Weightlifting auditorium inside the Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium complex here on Sunday.
The Games’ Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, who was forced to address an hour-long press conference to rebut charges of financial bungling on Saturday, was issuing clarifications yet again.
The Indian Olympic Association chief insisted that the U.K.-based firm at the centre of a corruption row that has hit OC was recommended by the Indian High Commission despite an embarrassing denial issued by it earlier.
The Indian High Commission had denied recommending AM Films, the little-known U.K.-based firm which allegedly received lakhs of pounds for providing its “services” during the Queen’s Baton Relay in London.
Mr. Kalmadi refuted the claim and asserted that the High Commission’s protocol official Raju Sebastian made the recommendation and even produced letters indicative of OC’s communication with the High Commission.
However, Mr. Sebastian has been dubbed in reports as “too junior an official to make any recommendation on behalf of the High Commission”.
“The Organising Committee would like to clarify that we had written to Mr. Vikrant Ratan, the First Secretary (Protocol) of the Indian High Commission, to provide us the list of agencies for transportation, accommodation and other services and their approved rates.
“In response, Mr. Raju Sebastian of the Protocol Division of the Indian High Commission, giving reference to our mail to the First Secretary Vikrant Ratan, informed that the approved vendors for transport are AM Car and Van and the Chauffeur Company,” Mr. Kalmadi stated.
All this while, Sports Minister M.S. Gill was busy rejecting criticism of the venues at inauguration of the Weightlifting auditorium in the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium.
Mr. Gill said media has been wrongly criticising the preparations of the Games despite the fact that CPWD engineers and concerned officials are working round the clock to complete the work.
“There are no serious flaws in the design of any of the stadiums. No faults in any of the roofs. The fact remains these stadiums have no faults and leakages anywhere. Don’t underplay the magnitude of the big occasion. This is a legacy, live it,” Mr. Gill said inaugurating the Weightlifting auditorium inside the Jawahar Lal Nehru Complex for the October 3-14 Games here.
“All responsible officers of the Public Works Department would be present at the venues all the time till the start of the Games. For next two months they will recheck deficiencies.
They will revisit the infrastructure. So there is no question of unpreparedness,” Mr. Gill said.
But these claims seemed hollow due to the scene both outside and inside the newly-built auditorium. Water-logging and seepage at the venue once again exposed the ill-preparedness of the capital to host the Games.
With a seating capacity of more than 2100, it is one of the largest auditorium in India built at a cost of Rs. 80 crore but cracked false ceilings near VIP/Games Family Lounge and warm-up area showed the urgency to meet the handover deadline.
The exterior of the stadium was in equally shocking state with a downpour clogging the entry and exit of the main gate of the arena.