If the corruption and financial irregularity charges against the Organizing Committee (OC) of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games was not enough, mismanagement in another key functional area — providing catering services at the different competition venues — seems to be heading for trouble.
Ajay Grover, Head (Catering), Commonwealth Games, has put in his papers last week. Though Grover refused to talk to HT, OC sources said that he quit after realizing that the catering services are in a mess and can prove to be a major embarrassment during the games.
Already on the back foot as it has failed to award catering contracts for 18 games and practice venues till date, the OC is peeved and is now blaming Grover for failing to deliver. Sources said Grover, who was hired two years back, was one of the highest paid consultants in the OC.
“He was hired as the chief catering consultant at a salary of approximately Rs two lakh per month. Why did it take him this long to realize that the catering programme is in a mess?” said a source.
The OC is yet to take a call on Grover's resignation. It has decided said that if Grover’s resignation were to be accepted, the OC would put it in writing in his releasing order that he has failed to perform.
Grover was responsible for issuing tenders, drafting request for proposals for awarding different catering contracts and finalizing them among his many responsibilities.
Sources said that Grover's panic is, however, not without reason. Till now the OC has signed just one catering contract with an Australian firm Delaware North, for providing food at the Games Village where 8,500 athletes and delegates would be hosted. The firm will be responsible for providing 36,000 meals daily to the athletes and delegates.
The OC is still in the dark about who will serve food at the competition and non-competition venues to athletes, games technical officials, workforce, volunteers and security staff. The selected catering firm would have to provide meals to 45,000 people at these venues.
“Fifty nine days to go for the games, we still do not know where will the food come from, where will it be cooked, who will cook it, etc. This can end up compromising aspects like quality and hygiene,” said a source.
The catering budget has already gone haywire and the OC has demanded Rs 121 crore more. The OC had invited bids for providing catering at the 17 competition venues last week. Sources said one catering firm — Fast Trax food chain — has shown interest and offered a Rs eight crore sponsorship.