India orders probe into Games corruption

2010-10-16 09:27

The Indian government has launched an official investigation into allegations of corruption and mismanagement during the preparations for the Delhi Commonwealth Games, reports have said.

The Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) national watchdog ordered the probe into various Games-related projects a day after Thursday’s closing ceremony, the Press Trust of India said today.

“The audit work for the Commonwealth Games is related to work payments, contracts and leasing of sports equipment among others,” the official news agency says.

A high-powered panel of investigators headed by a former chief of the CAG will submit its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by January.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, one of the driving spirits behind the frantic last-minute preparations for the Games said: “The prime minister has said whatever has gone wrong will be dealt with severely and eventually (those involved in) corruption will not get away.”

“There is a mystery about tickets. People said stadiums were empty but tickets were not available and so what happened?” she said.

The October 3-14 event involving 71 nations was the costliest Commonwealth Games in history, with an initial organising budget of $2?billion that was estimated to have swollen to at least three times that size.

India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has urged the government to unveil the statutory “terms of reference” of the various investigations that are scheduled to start.

“We want a fast, transparent and impartial enquiry which will make the concerned people accountable and these people should be booked immediately,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar told AFP.

An Indian anti-corruption body in August reported a plethora of problems with construction work, including the use of poor-quality materials and dubious contracts.

In a poll published in the Times of India today, 86% of respondents say the corruption charges should be fully investigated and the guilty brought to book.

The Games were seen as a chance to spotlight India’s emerging economic superpower status after the success of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but a series of high-profile public embarrassments took the shine off the event and left India on the defensive.

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