New Delhi: In what may spell fresh trouble for the UPA government, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has accused the PMO of giving Suresh Kalmadi, the Congress MP from Pune, a free hand in running the 2010 Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee (OC) and spending crores of taxpayers’ money in the name of preparation for the event.
Reports, Tuesday, claimed that the CAG has found fault with the PMO for allowing Kalmadi to gain full control of the OC and thus having a major say in its spending of nearly Rs 2000 crores, which was allotted to it for the mega sporting event.
The CAG further states that the Kalmadi-led OC not only disbursed the money in an unfair manner to the contractors but also influenced the execution of various projects related to the Games since they were all approved by his panel.
Meanwhile, Sports Minister Ajay Maken met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and briefed him on the CAG`s report on CWG.
Maken will also make a suo moto statement in Parliament at 2 pm on the issue.
The corruption-tainted sporting czar, who is now lodged in jail, is facing criticism for the irregularities committed by the OC and his subordinates which includes shoddy construction of various projects, inflating costs and rigged tendering.
To drive home its point, the CAG report cites the declaration made by Kalmadi in his capacity as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief to the Commonwealth Games Federation in 2003 in which he was only supposed to be the vice-chairman of the OC.
The bid submitted by the IOA said the executive board of the OC would be headed by a chairman nominated by the government. This arrangement was in accordance with the way in which the previous Commonwealth Games were held in Melbourne, with the government of Australia in charge.
Subsequently, a Group of Ministers (GoM) decided to appoint the Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs as the head of the OC on October 25, 2004.
In its report, the CAG refers to late Sunil Dutt, who was the Sports Minister then and according to whom the Prime Minister was part of the GoM, which took the decision. However, ironically, the decision was later changed and Kalmadi was made the OC chief. The decision taken by the GoM perturbed Dutt, who wrote a letter to PM and asked the matter to be rectified.
The CAG report is likely to throw more light on how the central government gave Kalmadi and his close associates a free run to manage the affairs of the OC, which in turn looted the state’s exchequer through its wrong decisions and irregularities.
Insiders claim that the central audit agency has found gross irregularities in several construction projects and raised doubts on the expenditure on overlays - temporary items for the Games period - for which Kalmadi was directly responsible.
PMO blames NDA regime for Kalmadi’s appointment
In reaction to the CAG’s explosive report, the PMO has now put the blame on the NDA government for appointing Kalmadi as the head of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.
In its defence, the PMO said that the NDA government had signed an official agreement with Commonwealth Games Federation in 2003 which said IOA chief will be the Chairman of the Organising Committee.
The BJP-led NDA government was in power and Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister when India`s bid for the Games was accepted, the PMO says.
The PMO further reiterated that it had no role in the decision to appoint Kalmadi.