Sometime last year, when the Commonwealth Games was seriously looking as if it was going to go off the rails, we had commented about the dangers of pulling out all the stops just to meet deadlines. The immediate reason for our warning was delayed projects, half-baked constructions - some that even resulted in outright collapses that included fatalities when an overbridge fell on construction workers - that led to worries that many corners would be cut for the purpose of saving face. The fiascos that later came to light sealed the fate of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi. But with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) making its audit report public last week, our earlier fears have borne out to be true.
But apart from confirmations, what the CAG report has also pointed out is the ambit of inflated costs, dodgy practices and scandalous profligacy that has little, if anything, to do with the 'collateral damage' of speeding things up 'come what may'. The CAG has pointed to decisions taken as part of the Commonwealth Games infrastructure-enhancement/building in Delhi where tender irregularities and unexplained extra expenditure can be traced back to the Delhi chief minister's office. Whether these charges were glaring irregularities conducted with good intentions or were simple money-making rackets will be investigated once the Parliamentary Accounts Committee deliberates on the CAG findings.
Mr Kalmadi faces serious charges of cooking the books. Whether chief minister Sheila Dikshit defends herself by stating that at that time, her decisions, flawed as they may seem now to the CAG, were absolutely necessary is something that needs careful deliberation. Which brings us back to the point with which we started. Essentially, it doesn't really matter whether incompetence or mala fide intentions led to crores of the exchequer's money being siphoned off. What matters is that we get to know who was at fault or was 'on the take' and then pays for it. But on the face of it, as Delhi chief minister, Ms Dikshit has much to answer for. As we're sure - and as she has promised all - she will.