Public Enterprises Min asks PSUS to withhold CWG sponsorship

New Delhi: In what could be a severe jolt
to the crisis-ridden Commonwealth Games, the Heavy Industries
and Public Enterprises Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Thursday said
his ministry has asked PSUs to hold back sponsorship money
totalling up to Rs 260 crore for the event.

"We have already asked PSUs to hold on. Instructions were
issued by DPE secretary to hold on (to) the funds," Deshmukh
told reporters.

As such, NTPC and PowerGrid have already held back their
funds, while most of the big corporate entities have shied
away from the Games.

He said earlier the ministry had said that if the PSUs
wanted to contribute they could. "(But )after this controversy
now I think no PSU is going to contribute," he added.

The comments come within hours of Congress President
Sonia Gandhi telling her party MPs that "it (Games) was a
matter of national pride and efforts should be made to hold
them successfully."

At the same time, she said that those found guilty of
corruption in works related to the Games should be punished
after the event.

The ministry`s direction to PSUs to withhold sponsorship
funds about 10 days coincided with numerous instances of
financial irregularities revealed by Central Vigilance
Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

Asked if the step taken by NTPC and PowerGrid is in the
right direction, Deshmukh said, "Yes".

Already NTPC and PowerGrid have decided to hold back Rs
40 crore sponsorship money out of a combined committed sum of
Rs 60 crore for the event.

NTPC, which has already given Rs 20 crore in February out
of the committed Rs 50 crore sponsorship deal, is also asking
for an audit by a government appointed agency for the sum it
has paid to the CWG organising committee.

The Board of the state-run power producer at its meeting
on Wednesday decided to withdraw any further sponsorship for
the Games to be held here during October 3-14 this year.

"Yes, we have decided to stop it (sponsorship) further,"
NTPC Chairman and Managing Director R S Sharma said when asked
to comment on the firm`s sponsorship in the wake of numerous
reports of financial irregularities in the CWG organising

Another power public sector unit PowerGrid Corporation,
which had committed to sponsor Rs 10 crore for the event, has
also taken a U-turn.

"Yes, we have decided not to give any money for the
Commonwealth Games," PowerGrid CMD S K Chaturvedi said.

Central Bank of India has already contributed Rs 50
crore to the Games, while the Indian Railways made a budgetary
provision of Rs 100 crore but was reported to be rethinking
its stand after reports of Australian sports marketing firm
SMAM receiving commissions.

State-run carrier Air India had also committed Rs 50
crore for the CWG, which are to come mainly in the form of

Corruption allegations against the CWG organising
committee erupted with a Central Vigilance Commission report
pointing out financial bungling in handing of construction
and other contracts of the Games last month.

Earlier this month, three official of the CWG organising
committee, T S Darbari (joint director general), Sanjay
Mahindroo (deputy-director general) and M Jeychgandran
(treasurer), were sacked, along with the Australian firm SMAM.