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Speed shopping for the Games

delhi Updated: Sep 09, 2010 00:16 IST
Avishek G Dastidar
Avishek G Dastidar
Hindustan Times
Avishek G Dastidar

Shera is on a last-minute shopping spree for the much-awaited Commonwealth Games. As the D-day nears, organisers are coming up with more and more items still left to buy.

From office stationery to washing machines, from mobile phones to uniforms, from suitcases to gensets, the list is endless and is growing.

Tenders from vendors are being invited every other day by the organising committee (OC) for the purchase of these items.

Some of the items that the organisers are looking to purchase are the result of unforeseen situations such as torrential rains. The OC is planning to purchase ponchos to keep spectators dry in case of showers, large sheets to cover stadium fields during the rains and tonnes of sand to get rid of slush on the ground.

But mostly, the shopping list comprises items whose specifications the organisers knew way in advance. So why didn't they buy the material earlier is anyone's guess. And now no one is even asking because with about three weeks left for the Games, it is more important to clear proposals and sanction funds than ask uncomfortable questions.

But the OC says the shopping is not last minute.

"This happens all the time at big sporting events. Many requirements crop up at the last minute. But the process to procure these items remains the same and it takes its own course and time,” said Lalit Bhanot, secretary general, OC.

The sheets to cover the ground was an ideal example of this, he said.

"It is raining so hard that we need large sheets to cover the rugby stadium. The stage for the opening ceremony is so heavy that if we do not cover the stage area now, the rain will soften the ground and the stage cannot be constructed there. So we need to buy items to arrange that. Now, this is the kind of item we cannot buy in advance,” said Bhanot.

As a result of the last-minute rush, the OC has to strip down many of its specifications for the items so that finding a bidder becomes easier. Moreover, some of the items have few vendors in the country. As a result, the OC is not in a position to negotiate the rates further because time is running out.

"There is also no time to initiate a Plan B if the vendors faulter in delivery, because the delivery dates are too close to the events," said a senior OC official, requesting anonymity.

Though the OC can justify the large sheets as a last-minute requirement, it cannot do the same for items such as uniforms for the marching contingent of Indian athletes at the opening ceremony. The OC knew about this requirements months in advance.

"How many people will be part of the marching team, the protocol, everything was set. But no one bothered to call for tenders for their uniforms and other kit," he said.

The requirement of some of the items on the list, such as audiovisual equipment for sports presentations, mobile phones, medals, certificates and even stationeries, were known to respective functional areas for long.

"Even officials at the organising committee are shocked that so many items are still left to buy but no one said anything all this while," said the official.

But the OC believes that the end will justify the means.

"We will make sure that whatever items are needed are available and are ready for use. At the end of the day, the Commonwealth Games will be organised in a world-class fashion," Bhanot said.