The Shame of the Game
25 October, 2010
By Ayesha Zee Khan
In the history of India the Common Wealth Games came for the first time into the soil. The Common Wealth Games (CMW) would have brought national Pride for the people of India but unfortunately converted into a national shame. Serious corruption charges ate away the very edifice of the Common wealth games. Was there a point for India to look at these games to establish its self confidence in the world arena? There were numerous countries who predicted that India could not hold such an event of enormity and there was a time when the event was going to be transferred to Melbourne, Australia.
The Governments own Central Vigilance Commission listed a series of irregularities in many of the projects and sites of the CWG. The man at the centre of the storm the chairman of the organizing committee Mr. Suresh Kalmadi says; the sports ministry in the Delhi government is answerable to the CVC report. There are controversies of a little known firm in the UK that never entered into a formal written contract worth 247,000 pounds; vans and cars were hired, a film company was also hired for barricading, the video screen boards, ambulances and mobile toilets were included. Money transferred for services during Queen’s Baton Relay in October 2009. According to Mr. Suresh Kalmadi the company was recommended by the Indian High Commission in London. AM films (UK-based) alleges the CWG owes 123,000 pounds to them. Who does business internationally on word of mouth these days and at this scale? The firm; owned by some Ashish Patel now, into deep scanner under the UK government.
Allegations, manipulation of tenders, scandals, corruption, prices being inflated for basic rentals all talked about on daily basis in Delhi. Tender for overlays such as treadmills, air conditioners and other kinds of machinery have been vastly overpriced. Rs 400,000 per air conditioner were paid which is only Rs 50,000 in the open market, a regular treadmill would maximum cost Rs 200,000 in the market but it had been purchased by the OC at the enormous rate of Rs 900,000 (according to Mr. Kalmadi it also included the technicians/trainers with the equipment). It clearly shows that contracts were given to companies that had steep products.
According to the CVC report, high prices and low standards of construction were followed for the building of stadiums and the sports city. The contractors were paid higher than the justified price. The work had been delayed and quality was compromised. The quality test records had been fabricated in acquiescence and to hide poor quality work. Furthermore, the concrete used in various stadiums failed to meet the strength requirements. It is said that ordinary concrete mixture was used instead of the recommended Ready Mix Concrete. The third party inspection agency appointed did not submit a single report on work quality. Cheap quality Electrical installations and no standard followed for in the 17 venues. Despite a ban on several ineligible agencies they were awarded contracts as favors. A large number of complaints for corruption forced the CVC to investigate the biggest sporting event in the history of India.
CWG had been entangled in controversies even before the start of games. It is said around 700 trees were cut down in just one vicinity. There were hues and cries of the environmentalists as to how the Government planned to replace such an enormous number that fell. The CWG organizing committee had signed a memorandum of understanding with the UN to host a sustainable and environment friendly games. Several environment norms had been flouted. 800 heritage trees fell for a stadium to be built. The concrete and other things that had been put to beautify the city were in gross violation of urban ministry guidelines. The games village was also a disaster, the dense cluster of high rise buildings, were built on the ecologically fragile flood plains of the Yumuna River, around 30.4 million rupees were spent on 4.3 million flower pots but they could not be put on the venues for security issues. According to the Mayor of Delhi P R Sawhney the flower pots that had been purchased would be put to decorate the streets and roadsides of Delhi whereas, the busy roads in the capital city had no space for the flower pots.
The best option to divert the attention of the onlookers from such allegations was to introduce a “new” thing. How to recover 7.5 billion US dollars India had invested on organizing this most expensive gaming event ever? India was not expecting much income from the Games since a number of venues were left incomplete and risky too, the main cities of India were all set to hold mega prostitution extravaganza and comprehensive betting bonanza during the games. Escort companies and providers of high class call girls received an unofficial nod from the Indian government in this regard, since prostitution is officially banned in the country. Organized escorts from Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Bangalore provided A-class prostitutes worth 23,000 Indian rupees per hour fixed for foreign clients and to serve over one hundred thousand expected viewers to the games. Exchanging sex for money is legal in India however related activities such as soliciting sex, pimping and operating brothels are illegal. Such a sidetrack would take away the attention of the players, the organizers and the world from runny/blocked toilets, broken bridges and dilapidated bedrooms infested with mosquitoes.
Social activists also feared that CWG boosted India’s child sex industry. Since 1992, India has become a front runner destination for sex buyers from Europe and America looking for underage sex in boys and girls. The country offers sex at low rates compared to rest of the destinations in world plus weak legal procedure. A lax attitude of Indian officials on this event made such harrowing crime in exchange for a cut in profits. The Common Wealth Games (CMW) would have brought national Pride for the people of India but unfortunately converted into a national shame. One wonders that how the Indians are going to face this shame for many coming years.