Sunday, 8 November 2009

Govt takes over Commonwealth Games preparations

The heat is on Suresh Kalmadi. Concerned over the state of progress of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Indian government has decided to virtually take charge. It has set up a three-member subcommittee to oversee all financial matters related to the event, thereby sidelining the high-profile Games Organising Committee chairman.

Just two days after the Union government released an enhanced budget of Rs 1,620 crore for the Games to the Organising Committee (OC), the sub- committee has been constituted to constantly monitor the expenditure. Sources said the sub- committee will comprise Dr M. Ramachandran, secretary, urban development; Sindhushree Khullar, secretary, sports; and Vilasini Ramachandran, additional secretary (expenditure), ministry of finance. These three are already executive committee members in the OC, but sources said the government felt the need for a finance committee to keep a check on any mismanagement at such a crucial stage of the preparations. The sources added that the move would seriously undermine Congress party MP Kalmadi's powers as the chairman of the Organizing Committee.

Since the time Kalmadi launched a scathing attack on Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper in October, government officials have been left red-faced; even the Prime Minister's Office was looking for a "peaceful solution" to the crisis.

It is learnt that sports minister MS Gill had called Fennell a few times to apprise him that the government was on the fast track to ensure things are in place and that they happen in the appropriate manner.

According to official sources, government has brought in officers with proven track record and brings with them the expertise to ensure that the OC functions like a well-oiled machine and will have no trouble in dealing with the CGF officials.

In addition, the Group of Ministers (GOM), headed by urban development minister Jaipal Reddy, has also started meeting regularly to take stock of the situation every fortnightly. To be sure, since the time Fennell expressed his displeasure at the functioning of the OC, the government was feeling acutely embarrassed. It was then decided they would get involved since the country's reputation and big money is at stake.

At a time when the entire world is watching Delhi with a lot of anticipation to deliver a good Commonwealth Games, the PMO's message is that no matter who is involved, at no cost should India's image be sullied.


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