CWG mess: Opposition demands probe; ED grills Darbari

Opposition and an ally cornered the govt on irregularities in Commonwealth Games projetcs while Govt assured action asking for patience.

New Delhi: After a pounding by the
Opposition, which demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee to
go into allegations of corruption in the Commonwealth Games,
Government today said irregularities will be inquired into
"exhaustively" and the corrupt will be pursued till the "end
of the earth".

The Enforcement Directorate, meanwhile, questioned terminated CWG Organising Committee Joint Director General T S Darbari for six hours and may interrogate some more members of the OC over alleged financial irregularities in connection with the mega sporting event.

Official sources said based on the leads received from the questioning of Darbari, some more officials of the OC would be called in for questioning.

Darbari, a close aide of OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi, was summoned to explain certain financial transactions undertaken during the Queen`s Baton relay in London last year. The ED has registered a case under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) in this regard.

Darbari is understood to have denied his role in any of the irregularities during the questioning, they said.

In the Parliament, with Sports Minister MS Gill set to reply Tuesday to the Lok Sabha debate, the government found itself on the back foot with key ally Trinamool Congress calling for a statement from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue.

UPA also appealed to parties, cutting across lines, to
ensure that the games are held successfully.

"We all know that the CVC and other constitutional
bodies do their job, but if every primary observation is blown
up to a scam then we cannot function.

"I don`t say that corruption has not taken place. No
one can say that. All irregularities will be inquired into
exhaustively," said Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy
said in a spirited intervention during a debate on the games
in Lok Sabha.

He said some people took the position that a country
like India, which has a lot of poverty, should not have hosted
the Commonwealth Games.

"Though I beg to differ from them, I respect their
ideological position. But with only a month left, this should
not be raised".

He debunked claims of leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav
that Rs one lakh cr has been used for the games, saying,
"We are living in some system. Such claims are made with
absolute abandon. By no stretch of imagination can it be held
as true. It does not speak well of our maturity".

Reddy said a total of Rs 28,054 crore have been spent
on the games out of which Rs 16,560 crore was given to the
Delhi Government for upgrading the capital infrastructure and
building of various stadia.
Reddy said, of the total of money given to the Delhi
Government, only Rs 670 crore has been spent directly on the
games-- that on building the stadia.

"The rest of the money has been spent on the
infrastructure development of the capital, which is not
directly linked to the games," he said. Giving a break-up of the money spent, the minister
said the Delhi Government has spent on various projects which
includes Rs 650 crore for street scaping, Rs 900 crore for
development bus depots, Rs 3,000 crore for extension of the
Metro, Rs 18,000 crore for augmenting the DTC bus services and
Rs 3,700 crore on flyovers and bridges.

In the Rs 11,494 crore spent by the centre, Rs 2.934
was spent on sports infrastructure, Rs 678 crore on training
of teams, Rs 182 crore has been given to MTNL, Rs 827.85 crore
has been given to the Ministry of Urban Development, Rs 487.57
to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Rs 747 crore
to the Health Ministry.

Reddy said, the government has also given Rs 2,394
crore as loan to the organising committee, which is to be
returned by them after the games.

Defending the huge amount of money spent, he said that
most of the money has been spent of infrastructure development
which will remain as the country`s legacy long after the games
are over.

"If you furnish and paint your house before your
daughter`s wedding, then the money spent on that cannot be
said to be part of the dowry," he quipped.

"I therefore say with confidence that we would be
staging the best commonwealth games in history.

Reassuring the House that the projects will be ready
before the games, he said, "the event can be organised even

Opposition attack

The BJP and other parties in the Opposition, RJD JD(U)
and Left Parties, demanded a JPC into the Games spending.

Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) said, "this (management of
Commonwealth Games 2010) is no longer in the hands of either
Central or Delhi government".

Yadav demanded that an inquiry should be initiated
immediately into charges of corruption against the ogranising
committee managing the mega event as the case would be diluted
once the games are over.

RJD leader Lalu Prasad said, "each penny should be
accounted for. A Parliamentary committee should be formed to
inquire into the allegation".

Kirti Azad (BJP), who initiated the debate, referred
to the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commission and
said several government departments have been charged with

He criticised various departments for cost escalations
to the tune of 513 per cent.

Azad said despite setting up of an empowered committee
on January 29, 2005 to oversee the preparations, several
irregularities have come to the notice.

"Is the committee ignorant of the corruption or has it
preferred to turn a blind eye...who is responsible?" he asked.

In all this, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee`s Trinamool Congress, the second largest party in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) sprang a surprise of sorts when it said it "will be satisfied" if Manmohan Singh makes a statement in the Lok Sabha that "anybody found guilty of Commonwealth Games corruption will not be spared".

Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandopadhyay said the Games
was like a mini-olympics which would be publicised throughout
the world. "Nobody is opposed to the Games," he said, adding
that the Prime Minister should make a statement on the issue
on the floor of the House.

Demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the
allegations of corruption in the Games, RJD`s Lalu Prasad
said, "The Government has not refuted the allegations of
corruption. Instead it has started a blame game".

"Each penny has to be accounted for," he said adding that
the allegations have tarnished the country`s name worldwide.

Demanding a JPC probe, Bansa Gopal Chowdhury (CPI-M) said
the government should be "ashamed" of the way the money was
being spent for hosting the Commonwealth Games.

"JPC is very much necessary", he said, adding the
government should also come out with a "white paper".

He also demanded probe into violation of labour laws
during construction of facilities for the event saying as many
as 70 contract workers had died during Games-related work.

BJD member Pinaki Misra described the allegations of
corruption as "collective national shame." The government, he
added, should not have bid for the Games as "they are goodwill
games and not competitive games...20 to 25 super stars (of
track and field events) are not coming here."

Anandrao Adsul (Shiv Sena) demanded a JPC probe while
Vijay Bahadur Singh (BSP) said that the government should
undertake a time-bound probe and punish the guilty.

C Rajendran (AIADMK) demanded that "the Prime Minister
should intervene and take charge of the situation" to ensure
successful completion of the Games.

The Games could have been held at places other than Delhi
like Chennai, Mumbai, Lucknow or Hyderabad, he felt.

Nama Nageswara Rao (TDP) demanded that a JPC be formed
before the commencement of the Games to probe charges of
widespread corruption. Seven stadia were built in Hyderabad at
total cost of Rs 160 crore, he said, pointing out that Rs 990
crore was spent on renovation of one stadium in Delhi.

Among the members who demanded JPC probe were Prabodh
Panda (CPI), Anurag Thakur (BJP) and R S Ajnala (SAD).


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