New Delhi: Government on Friday said it was willing to ask the CBI to look into charges of irregularities by state agencies involved in Commonwealth Games projects and accused the Opposition of projecting incorrect figures on the expenditure incurred for the mega event.
“Rs 11,500 crore is the actual expenditure...The figures of Rs 50,000 crore and Rs one lakh crore are totally incorrect,” Union Minister for Urban Development S Jaipal Reddy told reporters outside Parliament.
On allegations of corruption in the projects related to the Games, Reddy said, “government agencies may have committed some irregularities. Each of the allegations will be looked into. We can even ask the CBI to look into them”.
The issue of alleged large-scale corruption in CWG projects today rocked Lok Sabha with the entire opposition attacking the government, accusing it of allowing “loot” of public money. The Left demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the charges.
Reddy, who heads the Group of Ministers on the Games, was not allowed to respond to the charges by the opposition, which wanted the reply only after a full-fledged debate.
Reddy said that he was not concerned with the Games directly as the Sports Ministry was looking into it. “However, I wanted to respond to it as the Chairman of the Group of Ministers. I have been an MLA or an MP for 42 years. Never before has a minister not been allowed to speak when he wanted to,” the Minister said.
Reddy said the CWG Organising Committee, which has been facing allegations of corruption, should not be confused with government agencies.
“The Organising Committee is a totally independent organisation like the BCCI...If there have been problems and allegations about the Organising Committee, the government can initiate enquiry. All investigating agencies - CVC, CAG, Enforcement Directorate, FEMA will act,” he said.
Asked about the delay in completion of the projects related to the Games, the minister said “I would not completely deny it”.
Reddy blamed shortage of labour in Delhi as one of the reasons for the delay. He said the success of MGNREGA – Centre’s flagship employment guarantee programme – was a reason why few workers were available for the projects as they now had work in their villages.
On the opposition questioning the holding of Games in Delhi, the Union Minister said that the decision was taken by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2003.
“When the UPA came to power, it was out moral and political responsibility to discharge our duty,” he said.
The Urban Development Minister said the issue of giving priority to the Commonwealth Games or the common man was an “idealogical” issue and the decision was taken by the NDA government in 2003.
JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and his SP counterpart Mulayam Singh Yadav had claimed that the actual cost of hosting the CWG was around Rs one lakh crore, which was being spent in a surreptitious manner.
Insisting that only Rs 11,500 crore was being spent on the holding of CWG, Reddy said there was confusion between projects taken up for infrastructure development in Delhi and the Games.
Reddy said the expenditure on extension of Metro to Noida, Gurgaon and the airport cannot be taken as funds spent for Games preparations.
“Opposition members were not fully informed...,” he said on the charges levelled by the leaders in the Lok Sabha.
He said the figure of Rs 35,000 crore was the entire amount spent by agencies like MCD, NDMC, NHAI, DDA and Delhi government for infrastructure related projects and to give a facelift to Delhi.
Reddy said the government was for a full-fledged debate on the Commonwealth Games but claimed the opposition wanted to get away after levelling baseless charges.
He said that the delay is such works was not completely “unavoidable” but exuded confidence that all projects will be ready by the end of August.
“By the end of August, all projects will be completed. There is no doubt about our ability to conduct the Games splendidly,” Reddy added.
He said some of the stadiums like the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming complex are the “best in the world” and also cited the architecture of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Reddy said that as chairman of the GoM, he was only coordinationg between various ministries for “overlapping of work”.
To a query whether action would be taken against officials for delay in Games related projects, Reddy said “delay of two months when so many projects have been taken simultaneously is not a matter of shame”.