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Who scrapped oversight panel?

Even as one controversy after another continues to haunt the Commonwealth Games, questions are now being asked as to what happened to the Apex Committee constituted to oversee the games. Pankaj Vohra reports.

india Updated: Aug 11, 2010 01:36 IST
Pankaj Vohra

Even as one controversy after another continues to haunt the Commonwealth Games, questions are now being asked as to what happened to the Apex Committee constituted to oversee the games.

The committee included Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi as one of its members. Evidently, the committee was arbitrarily dissolved as neither the present sports minister nor his predecessor seem to have any knowledge of it.

Intervening in a discussion where former sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar asked the present minister MS Gill to constitute such a committee to oversee the Games, the latter said that there was no need for such a committee.

However, a 35-member Apex Committee was notified in an extraordinary gazette notification on March 4, 2005 by the government (No.F.70-28/2004-SP-II). The committee headed by the then minister of sports and youth affairs, the late Sunil Dutt, had as its members Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ratan Tata, Vijay Mallya, Sandeep Dikshit, Jitin Prasada, and Anand Mahindra amongst others.

The terms of reference of the committee were that it had over-riding power and responsibility for overseeing and coordinating the Commonwealth Games-2010.

The minutes of all other committees related to the conduct of the Games were to be submitted to the Apex Committee periodically for its information.

The Chairman of the Apex Committee (in this case the Sports Minister) was to have the power to call for such information which he deemed fit and to give such guidance that maybe required.

Asked as to what had happened to the Apex Committee, Mani Shankar Aiyar who succeeded Sunil Dutt denied any knowledge of such a notification.

"Whether this committee existed or not was never brought to my notice. I was not even aware of this high-powered committee which had Rahul as one of its members,” he told Hindustan Times.

Aiyar remained the Sports Minister for about two years from January, 2006 to 2008 when he was unceremoniously removed while he was in Hong Kong through an e-mail. Aiyar was to present the draft of his Sports policy to the Cabinet two days later.

However, Aiyar said that he too had constituted an Apex Committee during his own tenure and was not aware of what had happened to it either. He said that his Apex Committee included eminent people like Shiv Nader, Sevanti Aditan, S.Shankar Menon, Kiran Karnik and Prakash Narain.

M.S.Gill was obviously oblivious of these developments since he did not mention the existence of either of the two Apex Committees in Parliament.

A senior government official wondered how a high-powered committee headed by a Cabinet Minister Sunil Dutt and comprising several other eminent persons could be disbanded after a formal notification had been issued.

“The denial of its existence amounts to a breach of privilege,” the official said.