New Delhi: India’s prime minister promised a successful Delhi Commonwealth Games on Sunday, a day after he intervened to rescue the troubled event that has been beset by delays and allegations of corruption.
“The successful organisation of the Commonwealth Games would be another signal to the world that India is rapidly marching ahead with confidence,” Manmohan Singh said in his annual Independence Day address.
The Games which open in the Indian capital on 3 October will be a “proud moment” said Singh, adding that no stone would be left unturned “to make it a success.”
His comments came a day after he gave “overriding powers” to a panel of government secretaries to take over management of the preparation work with just 50 days to go.
The move was seen as a direct slight to the chairman of the Games organising committee, Suresh Kalmadi, who has faced increasingly vocal calls to resign amid the scandals swirling around the event.
Kalmadi, who has denied any wrongdoing and refused to step down, is a senior leader of Singh’s ruling Congress party.
“The committee of secretaries will review implementation and it will have jurisdiction over matters relating to the organising committee,” a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
“The prime minister further directed concerned ministries to conduct thorough investigations into all the complaints that have been received of procedural and other irregularities,” it said.
“He said that those found guilty should face severe and exemplary punishment.”
An Indian anti-corruption body earlier this month said it had found a host of problems with construction work for the Games, including the use of poor-quality materials and dubious contracts.
Questions have also been raised about suspect sums being transferred from the organising committee to a British-based firm during the Queens Baton relay launched in London last year.
The event involving 71 nations is already the costliest Commonwealth Games in history, with an infrastructure and organising budget of two billion dollars, although unofficial estimates say the final cost will be at least triple.
Many sites in the Indian capital still resemble a construction site and monsoon rains have hampered efforts to accelerate the work.