New Delhi: A web of corruption allegations in the Commonwealth Games has forced Suresh Kalmadi to order an investigation. Kalmadi has now been forced to set up a three-member enquiry committee. The committee will look into allegations of financial impropriety in dealings with AM FIlms, the British company that provided services used during the Queens Baton relay function.
The panel will also investigate alleged over-billing on purchases of treadmills, air conditioners and refrigerators. The Executive Board will also take a final decision on sacking DDG of Organising committee TS Darbari, a Kalmadi aide, as demanded by the Union Sports Ministry.
Kalmadi aide Darbari is also accused of smuggling diamonds worth Rs 28 lakh from UAE to India allegedly as part of a kickback. A DRI enquiry is still pending against him since February. He was even sent on leave but made a quick return. Now as corruption taint hits the entire organisation of Commonwealth Games, Sports Secretary Sindhu Khullar has shot of a letter to Kalmadi asking for Darbari's sacking.
"The Commonwealth Games is a prestigious event and the alleged involvement of a senior officer of the Organising Committee in a matter such as this would be highly detrimental to the reputation of the Games and therefore I had advised you that Darbari who was reported to be in charge of revenue and marketing be relieved immediately of all his charges," the letter says.
"Subsequently through another letter dated 20 April 2010, my Department also wrote to CEO CWG. The advice given was that Darbari be withdrawn from the delegation sent to Australia with the Queen Baton Relay as cases of alleged irregularities under the customs act were still pending against him. However through a letter April 23, you had informed us that there is no case or charge against Darbari by customs," it adds.
Through the Sports Secretary letter, what becomes clear is that Khullar had made three attempts asking Kalmadi to sack Darbari.
So why did Kalmadi refuse to act?
Ultimately, the organisation of the entire Games process has now come under the scanner and Kalmadi has been forced to set a high powered committee to look into all allegations levelled.
"The Ministry has been very clear in the last two years that any complaint, any irregularity has to be investigated by an appropriate authority. We are not investigating it ourselves," says Union Sports Minister MS Gill.
Running for cover Kalmadi went to meet External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on Tuesday asking him to intervene in a running battle between him and the Indian High Commission in UK. The bone of contention is: who gave permission for payments in excess of 2 and a half lakh pounds to a UK firm AM films for services provided during Queen's Baton relay? Why is the Indian High Commission in UK saying that they have nothing to do AM Films?
Kalmadi claims that an email was written by one of Indian high commission's staffers, Raju Sebastian giving the go ahead for AM Films. Was that go Ahead really even given?
So Kalmadi is stuck. If he does remove his Man Friday Darbari at this stage, it will be considered an admission of guilt. If he does not he will be accused of sheltering the guilty.
"I, as Chairman of the Organising Committee, am prepared to face any scrutiny by CAG or even a judicial probe for all financial transactions being reported by the media and all the people found guilty will be punished and brought to book," Kalmadi said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
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