CAG indicts PMO, Sheila; points to 'huge bungling'



CAG indicts PMO, Sheila; points to `huge bungling` Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Pointing a direct finger towards the involvement of Prime Minister’s Office in the Commonwealth Games scam probe, the Controller and Accounting General of India, Vinod Rai on Friday said the Suresh Kalmadi was appointed the chairman of the CWG Organising Committee on PMO’s recommendation.

Speaking at a press conference after the tabling of its report on CWG scam in the Parliament, CAG said, “Suresh Kalmadi was appointed CWG OC Chairman on PMO recommendation of December 2004 despite objections from then Sports Minister.”

CAG also said that Kalmadi worked in a near-autocratic manner, like a parallel government, without any accountability to the state and overwhelmingly controlled the Organising Committee.

In the report tabled in parliament Friday, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) noted: "The modus operandi observed over the entire gamut of activities leading to the conduct of the games was inexplicable delays in decision making which put pressure on timelines and thereby led to the creation of an artificial or consciously created sense of urgency."

The 743-page document, spread over 33 chapters, says while the PMO erred in appointing Suresh Kalmadi, the now jailed chairman of the Organising Committee of the games, the city government's delays in decision making had cost the national exchequer.

Additional Director General CAG Rekha Gupta told journalists that the "report is aimed at monitoring and course correction".

"Despite strenuous objections from the erstwhile minister of youth affairs and sports, late Sunil Dutt, Kalmadi was appointed as the OC chairman based on the PMO recommendation of December 2004," Gupta said.

She added that then sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and secretary of the ministry, late SK Arora, in 2007 also warned of how Kalmadi's appointment had rendered the sports ministry "ineffective in exercising the control over the OC".

But the warnings to the PMO, cabinet secretariat and the group of ministers "met with strong resistance from the OC chairman and were unfruitful", she said.

The report also said that the government of India "didn't have a clear and realistic assessment of the estimated cost of hosting the games".

Dwelling at length on the city infrastructure, the report said favours were granted to vendors who were not qualified.

She also said, “Despite success of the Games because of an excellent performance by the athletes, the controversies marred Commonwealth Games.”

She further stated, “Instances of favouritism, bias, largely guided by OC were found in selecting surfaces for athletic tracks, hockey turf, badminton courts.”

“The CAG report also reveals that the streetscaping project carried out by Delhi govt was ill-conceived, ill-planned; caused wasteful expenditure of Rs 101 crore”, Gupta said.

Implying towards economic bungling in high value contracts, she said, “Serious irregularities found in award of contract for construction of CWG residential complex to Emaar MGF.”

The report has also found loopholes in the implementation of the street lighting project in Delhi. "It was (the decision) taken with the active involvement of the chief minister and resulted in avoidable expenditure of more than Rs 30 crore."

The rules were flouted by the Prasar Bharti when it gave the broadcasting services contract for the games to SIS Live "on a single financial bid".

The CAG has found irregularities in the purchase of low-floor buses, construction of bus shelters, street lighting and the light panels on the buses.

The findings by the federal auditor have embarrassed the ruling party - Congress - and there are speculations that the party may ask Delhi Chief Minister to step down. This will give Congress a moral high ground against the main opposition BJP, which recently forced its corruption-tainted Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa to quit in Karnataka.

Meanwhile, Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit refused to take the blame for the alleged irregularities and said her government will cooperate with the parliamentary panel which will examine the CAG report.

"I assure you that when the CAG report goes to the (Public Accounts Committee) PAC whatever departments are asked to come and answer any queries, we will cooperate with them completely and fully," Dikshit told reporters.

The Congress also defended Dikshit even as the opposition stepped up its attack after the CAG report was tabled in parliament.

"I think now it is the only moral duty of Dikshit that she must resign," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters outside parliament. "If not, the Congress high command must ask her to step down immediately and they can elect their new chief minister."

The CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said Dikshit should leave the post until her name is cleared.

"Dikshit must resign till the matter is over."

No, said the Congress. The report, which is reported to have pointed a finger at the chief minister, was itself not a ground for Dikshit to resign, said Law Minister Salman Khurshid.

"That (objections raised by CAG report) doesn't automatically lead to kind of things that should require people to step down," Khurshid told reporters.

CBI may use CAG report to file cases

Meanwhile, there are reports that the CBI may also register cases based on the findings of the CAG’s report on 'irregularities' committed by the Delhi government in CWG projects.

Sources claim that the central probe agency is likely to investigate the criminality and other aspects of irregularities involved in the projects audited by CAG and start registering cases.

Earlier this year, the CBI registered several cases in CWG projects carried out by Delhi-based agencies including MCD, PWD, DDA, NDMC and others.

"We are waiting for the CAG report to be tabled in (the) Parliament after which we will begin scanning all documents related to the projects. If criminality is found, cases would be registered immediately," a top CBI official was quoted as saying.

With IANS Inputs