Govt orders probe into Delhi games corruption : report

Govt orders probe into Delhi games corruption : report

New delhi: The Indian government has launched an official investigation into allegations of corruption and mismanagement during the preparations for the Delhi commonwealth games, reports said Saturday.

The comptroller and auditor General (CAG) national watchdog ordered the probe into various games-related projects a day after Thursday’s closing ceremony, the Press Trust of India (PTI) said.

“The audit work for the commonwealth games is related to work payments, contracts and leasing of sports equipment among others," the official news agency said.

A high-powered panel of investigators headed by a former chief of the CAG will submit its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by January.

The panel will look into “the organisation and conduct of the games, fix responsibility for the alleged irregularities and also prepare a dossier on the lessons learnt for future events," , The Indian Express newspaper said.

The 3-14 October event involving 71 nations was the costliest commonwealth games in history, with an initial organising budget of two billion dollars that was estimated to have swollen to at least three times that size.

Sports minister MS Gill in July said the cost of organising the sporting extravaganza had risen 17.5 times since the bid was made in 2003.

The soaring costs and highly publicised construction delays fuelled intense criticism of the Games organising committee, in particular its chairman Suresh Kalmadi.

Under-fire Kalmadi, a senior member of India’s ruling congress party, insists that the accusations of poor construction have nothing to do with his committee.

Other reports said federal revenue authorities will separately probe charges of financial wrongdoing while the CBI will scrutinise tenders handed out by Kalmadi’s team for the purchase of sports equipment.

India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) meanwhile urged the government Saturday to unveil the statutory “terms of reference" of the various investigations that are scheduled to start.

“We want a fast, transparent and impartial enquiry which will make the concerned people accountable and these people should be booked immediately," BJP spokesman * told AFP.

“They (government) are saying it will take three months for the probe report to be ready and so they should start the process immediately," the spokesman added.

“Let us also see the terms of reference of this enquiry," Javdekar added.

An Indian anti-corruption body in August reported a plethora of problems with construction work, including the use of poor-quality materials and dubious contracts.

The allegations also sparked two days of heated debate in parliament in August.

In a poll published Saturday in the Times of India, 86 % of respondents said the corruption charges should be fully investigated and the guilty brought to book.

The games were seen as a chance to spotlight India’s emerging economic superpower status after the success of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but a series of high profile public embarrassments took the shine off the event and left India on the international defensive.