FSRH VI: THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES (CWG) SCAM
Updated: Mar 29, 2021
The 2010 Commonwealth Games commonly known as Delhi 2010, was an international multi-sport event that was held in Delhi, India, from 3rd to 14th October 2010. A total of 4352 athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations and dependencies competed in 21 sports and 272 events, making it the largest Commonwealth Games to date.
Image Courtesy: Outlook India Magazine, Illustration by Sorit
The CWG SCAM
The Commonwealth Games Scam 2010 is one of the most well-known scams of India whose main accused being Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth scam involves pilferage of about nearly Rs 70,000 crores. Several corrupt deals have happened in the CWG including overstated contracts. Even before the grand event was in the limelight it was exposed to more of the proclamation of dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power. It is estimated that out of Rs. 70000 crores spent on the Games, only half the said amount was spent on Indian sportspersons.
From the very beginning, the event was shrouded in controversies, which continually surfaced and have still not been fully resolved. Concerns were raised during the preparatory phase, with construction work falling behind schedule and volunteers quitting in large numbers because of dissatisfaction with their assignments and training programmes.
Gross violations of workers’ rights were reported at construction sites, where workers were forced into destitution.
They included the collapse of a bridge outside the main stadium, injuring 27 workers; allegations of corruption; and images of scruffy, barefoot children hauling hammers and materials to help prepare the sites for the start of the games. Campaigners claim that contractors ignored health and safety standards, saying over 100 workers died during the construction of facilities, either from accidents or from illnesses resulting from abysmal living conditions.
Hindustan Times, July 2010
THE CONCERNS - CWG
There were reports of a surge in child trafficking, with young girls allegedly being lured to Delhi for work at the Games, only to be sold into prostitution. A huge Helium balloon was leased at Rs 40 crores, a figure which was highly inflated.
Just 10 days before the Commonwealth games were about to start the athletes were made to shift from the apartments which were exclusively meant for them. They were moved on to very shabby and run-down apartments. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which was investigating the professed dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power in various Games-related projects, had found lack of compatibility in tenders like payment to non-existent parties, will-full delays in execution of contracts, over-inflated price and bungling in purchase of equipment through tendering and misappropriation of funds.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 25 had appointed a high- level committee to look into alleged corruption and managerial lapses in conduct of the mega sporting event, the main findings of the report are as follows:
OC intentionally delayed overlays contracts by not providing estimates for the Rs 630 crores overlay contracts.OC could have saved Rs. 138 crores in overlays if it had negotiated for the overlays contracts.
Chairman (Suresh Kalmadi) appointed Loyalists in Key positions, particularly a large number from Pune including a railway guard.
Employees and consultants and advisors were hired on criteria other than merit.
Candidates with questionable backgrounds were accommodated, especially at senior positions with decision-making powers.
Chairman approached Government for an additional Rs. 900 crore in August 2010 when there was no need for additional funds.
The Organizing Committee kept misrepresenting a revenue-neutral position to justify extravagant spending.
Chairman spent Rs. 5.06 crores on a reckless exercise of patronage to send people unrelated with sports to the Beijing Olympics on a pleasure trip.
Consultants, including Shashi Tharoor, were hired at terms dictated by them.
A contract for timer boards issued by Lalit Bhanot’s office without informing technology consultant or technology head.
Chairman kept the Executive Board in the dark about detrimental aspects of SMAM contracts.
There is a big list of people including Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Businessmen who were involved in the Commonwealth scam. Some of the top politicians who were involved in the scam are Suresh Kalmadi who acclaims to be the main accused. He was the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Delhi Commonwealth games. According to the reports, the then Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit was also charged with many pieces of evidence of fraud and irregularities related to the Commonwealth Games process.
The best part of the scam was that it was scooped out by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India even before the Commonwealth games began. Suresh Kalmadi did a lot of manipulation in a clever and unscrupulous way by his team and supposed to have unfairly taken a huge amount of money in the name of Commonwealth Games. Kalmadi had been accused of awarding illegal contracts to a Swiss firm for Timing
-Scoring-Result system for the Games causing a loss of Rs 95 crores to the exchequer. It has been reported that during the Queens Baton Relay held in London before the Commonwealth Games lot of funds and forex had come in and has been misappropriated by Suresh Kalmadi and his team. This has been probed under the grounds of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act which falls under the overlays-related works of the Games, under the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
Kalmadi’s membership of the Indian National Congress Party was suspended after being arrested and charged with corruption. On 26 April 2011, he was sacked from the post of president of the Indian Olympic Association. Suresh Kalmadi was in jail for 10 months.
The commonwealth games scam has degraded the reputation of India on global index and India has been perceived as a more corrupt nation after the CWG scam and slipped to 87th spot in Transparency International’s latest ranking of nations based on the level of corruption. On one hand, the CWG has gained appreciations worldwide on the other hand multi-crore rupees were wasted and a huge amount of public’s money was stolen by the corrupt politicians and the bureaucrats which made this mega event a national shame, where the accountability and the transparency of our system and the government came under a big question mark.