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New Delhi, October 17, 2010
A day after Delhi Chief Minister Sheilka Dikshit talked about "suspicion" of corruption in the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC), its chairman Suresh Kalmadi said the aspersions cast by her were "most disappointing and uncalled for" and made it clear that he and his colleagues did not want to be the scapegoat anymore.
Ms Dikshit told the news agency PTI that the "real corruption seems to be with regard to the money given as loans (to the OC)".
"It is not right to deflect and point fingers at others when she must indulge in self-reflection on corruption in her own departments," Mr Kalmadi said in a statement issued here this evening.
He said that Ms Dikshit had remarked that the ways of the OC were mysterious whereas the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Michael Fennell had declared the Games as "exceptional and successful".
He said the OC had already welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision to set up an inquiry committee, headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) V K Shunglu, and had said that it would support the probe. He hoped the terms of reference of the committee would include not just the scope of work undertaken by the OC at a budget of Rs 1620 core but also the Rs 16,000 crore spent by the Delhi Government.
"Despite a series of attacks in the run up to the Games, I was quiet as I wanted the Games to succeed. Keeping quiet should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness. Nor should patience be seen as a sign of guilt. It was more important to focus on the task of conducting the Games well," he said.
"National pride was at stake and I didn’t want that to be affected. Our challenge was to keep the morale of our workforce of over 4000 high. We succeeded in doing that and ensuring the smooth delivery of the largest ever Commonwealth Games. But, on Dasara day, I owe it to the Organising Committee that we speak out. We don’t want to be the scapegoats anymore," he said.
Mr Kalmadi said that, in 2005, in the overall scheme of preparation for the Games, the Government had laid down the following institutional arrangement:
· Sports Infrastructure is to be developed by Government agencies and funded directly by Government.
· The development, upgradation and improvement of the city infrastructure are to be done by the Government of Delhi with the support of the Government of India.
· The responsibility for the Conduct and delivery of the Games is of the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi.
"I am proud that the world has declared that conduct of the Games was faultless, with all competitions being held as per schedule. A massive amount of work was done in planning and preparing for the Games by innumerable people under the guidance of the Indian Olympic Association and National Sports Federations. The execution of these plans was impeccable. It led Organising Committee to deliver spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies that were overseen by the Group of Ministers (GoM)," he said.
Mr Kalmadi said the Games had succeeded because of the efforts of Team India, including a large number of people and agencies and not any individual.
"Mrs. Dikshit’s attempt to take credit for getting the Games Village ready in time does not fit with the team concept. The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and the Organising Committee, who were preparing the Village for over two years, co-ordinated the work of a number of agencies to ensure that it was entirely ready to welcome the athletes," he said.
He said the OC was constantly being criticised for delays and shoddy work when it was not at all involved in any construction activity.
"Unmindful, we kept defending the venues and infrastructure and reassured the Games Family that everything would be ready in time for the Games," he said.
"When the foot overbridge near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium collapsed, it led to doubts about the safety of the people. Reports of delays in getting the city ready also caused many teams to believe that Games could not be held. We had to do a lot of hand-holding and cajoling to ensure that the full complement of 71 nations and territories took part in the Games," he said.
Mr Kalmadi pointed out that all decisions in the OC were made by the Executive Board, which includes two representatives each of the Central and Delhi Governments. He said the Prime Minister’s Office had deputed a number of Government officers, including the CEO, Mr Jarnail Singh, to work with the OC.
"Transparency and accountability remain the watch words in the Organising Committee. We are confident that the guilty will not be spared irrespective of which agency they belong to," he added.
The XIX Commonwealth Games were held from October 3-14 and generally won praise from foreign athletes and delegations as well as the media but were plagued by allegations of corruption in its organisation as well as negative publicity about the preparations for the Games in the run-up to the mega event.