Thursday, 5 August 2010

Delhi Games: 17 times over original budget

There are concerns that building for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, due to start in two months time, may not be complete. And all this, despite the Games being 17 times over-budget! Of course, nothing like that could happen here in Glasgow, now could it...

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Scots Games chief 'confident' about Delhi event despite claims of delays
Published Date: 04 August 2010

THE head of Scotland's Commonwealth Games team said he is confident it will be able to "cope with all eventualities" in Delhi amid increasing concerns over infrastructure and corruption.

Jon Doig, chief executive of Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS), said he has been reassured by his counterparts in India that "everything will be ready on time," despite mounting criticism of the event. With just two months to go before the opening ceremony, the final preparations for the 2010 Games have been tarnished by construction problems and claims of financial impropriety.

Despite India's hopes that the Games will showcase its emergence as a global economic power, four venues are still under construction, with others the focus of a row over sub-standard work.

A revised deadline for the Games venues to be handed over to event directors passed on Monday, raising concern that athletes' preparations may be jeopardised.

However, Mr Doig, below, said a CGS support team has visited Delhi on the number of occasions, and is prepared for any problems which may arise.

The Delhi Games is already struggling with a budget that has grown to 17 times the original estimate, while the Indian government has this week urged the organising committee to sack two officials at the centre of corruption allegations.

Reports suggest that construction quality certificates inspected so far had turned out to be fake or "suspect", with ongoing work hampered by the annual monsoon, which has submerged approach roads, waterlogged building sites, and exposed leaks in supposedly finished venues.

Meanwhile, a report from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), a government anti-corruption agency, has identified 16 Games construction projects where large-scale financial irregularities are suspected.The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has asked for clarification amid signs that some venues are already showing signs of construction faults.

"We are concerned about the implication of the CVC report. We have written to the OC (Organising Committee] following the report, basically saying that we need assurances from the venue owners … that all venues are fully compliant with government of India laws," CGF chief executive Mike Hooper said.

"Certainly it is of concern and if there are immediate works that need to be done … they must do it in the next 60 days."

His comments followed warnings from Australia's national field hockey coach Ric Charlesworth that the CGF was "very naive" if it continued to believe the assurances from the Games' organisers.Mr Charlesworth said even if the competition arenas were finished, other preparations would not be completed on time."

My concern is that we will get there and have people stuck on the 15th floor with no working lifts, no air-conditioning, electricity going on and off, no water in the taps and poor sewerage."

But Mr Doig, said he was optimistic that the Games, scheduled to begin on 3 October, will prove a success.

"We are in regular contact with the Delhi 2010 Organising Committee and they continue to assure us that everything will be ready on time," he said.

"It is important at this point that we and our athletes retain our focus, and look at what we can control, rather than worrying about what we can't." He added: "Clearly, as at all Games, there will be operational challenges. However, we are confident we have an excellent support team who have visited Delhi and have the experience to cope with all eventualities."

Corruption claims spark furyAN OFFICIAL report into the corruption allegations threatening to cast a shadow over the Delhi Games makes for grim reading.

The findings by the Central Vigilance Commission, India's top anti-corruption agency, ruled that the event infrastructure is in poor shape due to "large-scale corruption, usage of substandard material and repeated delays".

Some venues have been found to have substandard concrete and steel structures, with loose grilles and wiring. With the Indian government eager to see Games organisers dispose of certain officials, the acrimony has led to the leaking of correspondence from a ministerial department.

The letter from the sports ministry, addressed to Organising Committee chair, Suresh Kalmadi, makes clear the discontent. "With the Games just two months away, (such] matters … raise questions of probity and integrity of officers in the OC." "They tarnish the image of the Games and adversely affect its credibility," it adds.

Media coverage, too, has become increasingly negative as the Games approach.

One Indian news magazine dubbed the event the "Shame Games" while a recent newspaper editorial said it was "in danger of becoming an exhibition of ineptitude and incompetence."