When it comes to hosting Games, inflated costs stay the norm

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) closed the door on some top sports goods suppliers for the National Games currently underway in Ranchi. The body favoured certain brands for the showpiece domestic event, an HT investigation reveals.

A clause inserted in the National Games manual, a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times, made it mandatory for the Jharkhand National Games Organising Committee (JNGOC) to purchase only those brands that had IOA's approval.

Left with no option, the JNGOC procured equipment as per the IOA's list -- sometimes at three times the cost of what is available in the market. In 19 sports disciplines, a single brand was favoured, inflating the cost of the Games.

For instance, Gymnova gymnastics exercise floors were procured for the Games for 52,646 Euros (Rs 31,86,038) in 2008, while the same floors were purchased by SAI for 17,000 Euros (Rs 10,28,808) last year.

Anatomy of the deal
The IOA set aside the list of companies approved by the national sports federations and came up with its own list of manufacturers and distributors.

In the case of wushu, mats rejected by the sports federation got the IOA's nod. Wushu Association of India general secretary, Mansih Kackker, wrote to JNGOC secretary (a copy of the letter is with HT) saying, "We have never heard about the names of companies like Budoland and Kwon. We never suggested these names."

Top sports goods supplier Cosco (India) Ltd too raised an objection but to no avail.

IOA president, Suresh Kalmadi, when contacted said, "The equipment purchase was done by the JNGOC." But when reminded about the limiting clause in the Games manual, he said, "First I have to check the exact procedure and only then can I comment on it."

IOA director ASV Prasad denied the allegations. "IOA only recommended the names of the equipment. The JNGOC and the Games Technical Committee took the final call." When reminded about the IOA letter, he said: "I have no idea… better ask someone else."

It was Prasad who wrote to the JNGOC organising secretary, SM Hashmi, stating: "The National Games belong to IOA and the sports equipment approved by IOA should be used."

In boxing, a company called Trenz was selected. The Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) approves a list of six suppliers --- Trenz being one of them. Trenz supplied rings for the Games for Rs 4.50 lakh apiece, but gave a quotation of Rs 2.98 lakh (exclusive of VAT and transportation cost) to the IBF last year. An IBF approved supplier, Swatantra, offered the same ring for Rs 2 lakh.

The limiting clause
A limiting clause in the tenders virtually ruled out most of the suppliers. It said that companies intending to supply goods "shall have to bid for at least 10 packages".

Many could not do so as they manufactured or had distribution rights of only a couple of sports equipment.

Harish Sharma, an IOA member on the purchase panel, said, "It's a two-year-old issue. I hardly remember anything. But whatever recommendations were made must have come from the national federations."

Even IOA president Suresh Kalmadi had written a letter (Dated March 19, 2008) to the then Jharkhand CM, Madhu Koda, saying, "I have to mention that IOA has constituted a committee to finalise the list of equipments/surfaces/flooring etc, which will be sent to you very soon and organising committee will procure the same as per the recommendation of the IOA."


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