New Delhi: Faced with a financial crunch, the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee has asked the Indian armed forces to provide all services for the October 3-14 Games in New Delhi free of cost. The SOS from the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee says 'help us, work for us but please don't ask for money from us'.
The Organising Committee wants Indian Army to contribute to a successful conduct of Games "free of cost".
CNN-IBN has a copy of a letter written by Urban Development Minister and Chairman of the Group of Ministers for the Games Jaipal Reddy to Defence Minister AK Antony asking for free accommodation for artistes who will perform during the opening and closing ceremony of the Games.
A bill of more than Rs 11 crore had been raised for organisational infrastructure and the use of Army personnel.
"I must mention that all other agencies of the government have willingly provided facilities to conduct the Games and it would be incomplete without the participation of the members of the armed forces. Therefore I urge you to kindly ensure their full participation at "NO COST" to the OC. OC should be allowed to occupy the area for artistes village and accommodation in the NCC complex free of cost for two and a half months," the letter says.
"I will be happy if the Army could do all this without any cost," says Reddy.
The Minister's intervention comes after the Indian Army raised a total bill of over Rs 11 crore for its services to the Organising Committee.
Accommodation being provided by the Army to performing artistes for opening and closing ceremony in Delhi area is costing Rs 9,29,24,209, accommodation in the NCC complex will cost Rs 78,40,500 and an additional cost of Rs 1,22,18,000 is the charge for Army's help for other functional areas in the Commonwealth Games.
The totals cost comes to Rs 11,29,82,709, which includes not just rental for land water and electricity, but also cost of renovation of the areas.
The Army has also asked the Organising Committee to pay allowances to its personnel who will be used during the Games at the rate of Rs 20,000 per month for officers, Rs 14,000 per month for JCOs and Rs 10,000 per month for others.
Now the Organising Committee does not want to take care of the entire bill. In fact Defence Ministry sources say that it has now been agreed upon that the Organising Committee will only pay the cost of carrying out renovations where the artistes will stay and the allowance that the Army is asking for. It implies the Organising Committee does not want to pay for the rental of the huge properties, which is more than half of what the Army had initially wanted.
"Yes, we have asked for waiver from the Army," says Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi.
Already, PSUs like Power Grid Corporation and NTPC have backed off from their sponsorship commitments. Within the private sector, too, stories of large scale corruption in the Games have dented the enthusiasm.
With the Organising Committee's target of Rs 1800 crore now looking like a distant dream, it is a little surprise that it has been looking for freebies.