Is the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) serious about returning the money taken on loan from the Central Government?
Suresh Kalmadi has, time and again, proclaimed that the Organising Committee budget for the Games, from October 3-14, is revenue neutral and all the money — estimated at around Rs 1,620 crore — would be returned after the Games are over.
On Saturday, when asked whether he had set a time frame for returning the money, Kalmadi only said, “Till now the OC has received just Rs 900 crore from the government. We will earn revenue from the Games and return the money.” But, when pressed to specify the time frame, the chairman evaded the question saying, “We have earned a record Rs 700 crore through sponsorship and TV deals with international broadcasters. The revenue from TV deals in itself is around $50 million (Rs 232 crore). Then, we will also earn revenue from merchandising and ticket sales … we will maintain complete transparency.”
On a day when the media went into overdrive, grilling Kalmadi on the recent bad publicity being received by the various stake-holders for the no-completion of venues and corruption in awarding infrastructure contracts, the OC chairman tried to put the blame on the CPWD, saying the infrastructure completion didn’t come under the OC’s purview and all “13 issues raised by the Central Vigilance Commission are directed at bodies involved in construction activity.”
But, when the unrelenting media cornered him saying he could not wash his hands by passing the buck on another agency, he said, “The OC will only take charge of the various stadia only when it was confident that all the works had been completed as per specifications.”
Interestingly, Kalmadi is also part of the group of ministers (GoM) overseeing the construction of venues and all contracts need due approval from the GoM to be put into action. Kalmadi washed his hands off the issue, saying, “The OC has been writing to the concerned authorities whenever it has come across any discrepancy.”
The IOA president came down heavily on the channel, which claimed yesterday that a cash transfer of Rs 1.68 crore had taken place from the OC to a UK-based company, AM Films UK Ltd, in lieu of the services obtained from the company during the Queen’s Baton Relay function in London last year.
The channel had claimed that the British Revenue and Customs department had written to the Indian High Commission, saying there were discrepancies in the payment of this money by the OC.
But Kalmadi said the budget for the QBR had been approved by the executive committee for the Games and “even the RBI’s permission had been taken”.
“As for the news that £25,000 (Rs 18.2 lakh) are being paid monthly to a costume-designing company based in UK, it’s baseless. No money has been transferred to the UK after the last QBR transaction in October. We paid £2,32,000 (Rs 1.7 crore) to an event management company, Jack Morton, for organising the QBR function in England. But due to some arrangements that had to be made at the last minute, we paid AM Vehicles Hire Ltd a certain amount without going into the nitty-gritty of tenders as the time was short,” said Kalmadi. “The news appearing on the channel is baseless.”