Games logistics behind schedule

Games logistics behind schedule

New Delhi: With less than 230 days left for the Commonwealth Games (CWG), an internal audit by the organizing committee in the first week of February revealed that none of the key logistics such as security, accommodation and transport to move officials as well as athletes have been completed by the 16 February deadline.

A status report on the logistics, reviewed by Mint, indicate none of the 13 tasks associated with eight areas—security, ceremonies, sports, coordination, venue development, accommodation, technology and accreditation—have been completed. There had been no progress on any of the logistics since that assessment as of Wednesday, said a top government official familiar with the situation. The official did not want to be identified.

In all, there are 36 such areas that come under logistics. Mint could not independently review the status of the remaining areas.

Separately, another internal audit has found a similar slippage in developing the catering logistics for the CWG.

Alarmed by the slow pace, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had appointed a three-member official panel in November to the organizing committee to hasten work on the projects. Mint reported Singh’s decision on 4 November to get involved in ensuring that the infrastructure is ready in time for the CWG, the country’s biggest sporting event in 28 years, scheduled for 3-14 October.

According to the official cited above, much of the delay is due to the organizing committee’s failure to take timely decisions.

Also Read Commonwealth Games, Delhi

“The cancellation of tenders at the last minute, delay in clearing the request for proposals in various projects and too much confusion in who does what led to the delay in implementing the tasks," said the official. “We are still in the danger zone."

An official of the urban development ministry, which is assisting in the coordination for the CWG, concurred.

“There are so many things that are not defined," he said, on condition of anonymity. “It is not clear as of now."

The same official maintained that while physical infrastructure such as bridges and stadiums would be ready, support facilities such as scoreboards, camera positions and other sports-related issues may not be ready in time. The ministry will undertake a review of infrastructure projects with officials from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Delhi Development Authority on Thursday, the official added.

A separate audit reveals a similar slip-up in organizing the catering for the CWG. In November last year, the organizing committee decided to award the catering service for the Games Village to Australia-based Delaware North, the only international company that had qualified in the global tender. Nearly a month later, the organizing committee found that there were “technical gaps" in the bidding and decided to disqualify the company, which had teamed with the Taj Group.

Officials of Indian Hotels, which runs the Taj catering businesses, were not immediately available for comment, when called on the mobile phone.

Following an exchange of communication between officials in the organizing committee, on 3 February it once again issued a request for proposal (RFP) for catering service in the Games Village, where 36,000 meals would have to be dispensed for 12 days. The fresh RFPs are expected to be opened only after 24 February.

“It took almost three months for the organizing committee to disqualify the chosen company and re-tender for a new one," said the first government official cited above. “There is no surety that we would get the fresh bids on similar or lower amount. Even if we do, it’s a high risk as importing the utensils and equipment for setting up such a large kitchen itself will take more than three months."

Setting up a multi-cuisine kitchen for an international event takes time and involves several security issues as well, the official said.

However, Jarnail Singh, chief executive officer, organizing committee, told Mint that all the work would be completed and the venues handed over to Delhi police by 30 June. The lock down date for security is expected to be 1 September.

Rahul Chandran contributed to this story.