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NTPC seeks to sever Games links

NTPC seeks to sever Games links

New Delhi: In yet another blow to the Commonwealth Games (CWG), state-owned NTPC Ltd plans to drop the use of the event logo from all its communications and sever all ties with the sporting fixture because it’s worried that the negative publicity associated with the allegations of widespread graft will hurt its own brand image.

In addition, India’s largest power generation utility, which is also the official power partner for the Games, plans to withhold part of the Rs50 crore sponsorship fee if the organizing committee of CWG fails to guarantee against misutilization of funds. The utility has already made a Rs20 crore payment.

“We’ve decided not to pay. We should be fully satisfied. We will get the board to undo the earlier decision. We’ll remove their logo from all communication. We can even do it through a circular. We’re a listed company and don’t want to be associated with such negative brand rub-off," said NTPC chairman and managing director R.S. Sharma.

Another senior NTPC executive, who didn’t want to be named, said, “There is no point to be associated with a tainted set-up. They should come out clean. We’ve sent them a letter asking what to do. We also plan to discontinue using their logo."

This is a complete rethink on the part of NTPC, which had initially sought to piggyback on CWG goodwill to open up fresh commercial opportunities in member countries by developing its brand internationally.

NTPC had signed a memorandum of understanding with the CWG organizing committee on 10 December, which entitled it to marketing, advertising and promotion rights for showcasing the company’s brand in India and overseas. NTPC has global aspirations and is seeking coal concessions, including in some CWG member countries such as Australia, but has not had any success.

The event, scheduled for October, features 71 nations and territories that were once part of the British empire.

In a communication reviewed by Mint dated 4 August from A.K. Bhatnagar, NTPC general manager (human resources and corporate communication), to V.K. Saxena, additional director general (revenue) in the organizing committee, NTPC stated: “We are quite disturbed by the various reports appearing in the media about the alleged misutilization of the funds... As such, we would like to be assured of the bona fide utilization of the sponsorship payments being made by us to the Organizing Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi."

The utility has demanded a “written commitment" from the CWG organizing committee stating that NTPC’s sponsorship amount “shall be utilized for the realization of the bona fide objectives of the Organizing Committee Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010, and the funds utilized by it are subject to the scrutiny of CVC (Central Vigilance Commission)" and “no part of the sponsorship amount contributed by NTPC shall be given as commission to any individual or organization".

“In case we do not get a written commitment from you as above, we shall be constrained to withdraw our support to the Commonwealth Games as committed," the utility added.

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