New Delhi: Slamming the UPA for various “irregularities” in preparations for the Commonwealth Games, the Opposition on Monday demanded setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee or a CBI probe into the scam, a charge rubbished by the Congress.
Kirti Azad (BJP), who initiated the debate in Lok Sabha on situation arising out of delay in preparation for Commonwealth Games, referred to the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commission and said several government departments have been charged with irregularities.
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.
Azad said then Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh had chaired a Group of Ministers which decided that an apex committee under the Sports Minister would oversee preparations for the games and would be kept informed of major decisions taken on the international sporting event.
Sports Minister M S Gill, who was present, was described by Azad as ‘Dronacharya’.
Amid peals of laughter, the BJP member referred to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as ‘Kripacharya’ and the Delhi government as ‘Gandhari’. He also described the group of secretaries for game preparation headed by the Cabinet Secretary as ‘Shakuni’.
He said said while a new cricket stadium in Nagpur cost Rs 90 crore, renovation of the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium was carried out at Rs 961 crore. He wondered whether gold, silver and diamonds have been used for renovation.
Azad invited “adarniya (respected) Japial Uncle” (Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy) to Nagpur to have a look at the new stadium. “I will take you there if the government does not sponsor your tour,” he said.
Rejecting the opposition’s charges, Manish Tewari (Cong) said the CVC recommendations were preliminary in nature and could not be termed as final report.
He played down the controversy surrounding the Queen’s Baton Relay saying expenditure on the event was 0.07 per cent of the total budget of the Organising Committee for the games.
He said 840 players, 185 coaches and 78 officials have been trained for the event.
“In the midst of allegations and counter allegations, truth has been lost,” he said, referring to the allegations made by the opposition parties.
Azad earlier claimed that the cycling velodrome was constructed using concrete whereas it should have been made with wood.
He said players have been denied the opportunity of practising in stadia before the event as most of them were not ready so far.
Gill intervened to say that international test events have taken place in some of the stadia.
Sharad Yadav (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.
He asked the government to give the authentic information about the expenditure on the games and revenue expected to be generated from it.
Yadav said according to a tourism department report total expenditure on the games would be close to Rs 87,000 crore which would be higher than the Rs 50,000 crore budget of forthcoming London Olympics.
At this, Gill clarified that Delhi Government would be spending Rs 16,500 crore while Union Sports Ministry’s budget for the games was estimated at Rs 11,498 crore.
When some Congress members came in support of Gill, Yadav said, “Don’t put yourselves into trouble by pleading his case.”
In the presence of Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, he also made certain remarks which were later expunged when Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal took exception.
Akhilesh Yadav (SP) said, “After wasting so much of money in the name of organizing the games, the government has planned fireworks show which would cost Rs four crore.”
“When government has already wasted so much money, why should they waste more money on fireworks,” he asked.
He pointed out that renovation works have not been completed so far. Citing an example of Shivaji stadium where pre-qualification tests were to be conducted for games, he said, “It is not ready.”
Yadav demanded inquiry into the matter saying it involves country’s reputation and Rs one lakh crore investment of public funds.
He said, “Seize the passports of all those official who are involved in the games so that they do not escape when an inquiry is ordered.”
He said the rates of games tickets are exorbitant at Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000 and added that sale of tickets has evoked poor response.