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Commonwealth Games 2010, Delhi: National Shame, Or Scam?

With the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi just 70 days away, the abysmal state of preparedness is nothing less than shocking. Consider this:

  • Most sporting venues, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (track and field) and the swimming complex will not be ready by the August 1 deadline.

  • At the table tennis facility, a false ceiling collapsed.

  • At the weightlifting site, new vinyl flooring is already peeling.

  • The brand new shooting range was inaugurated in May, but embankments have collapsed.

  • Trial weightlifting and swimming events had to be canceled, because the sites were not ready.

  • The swimming stadium was inaugurated a few days back, but got flooded.

  • There are reports of water seepage in the boxing stadium.

  • The bidding process for catering was canceled, and will now be hurried through (read higher costs and less choice!).

  • At Khan Market, brand new granite pavements were too slippery and have been dug up again!

  • Subways at Connaught Place cannot be finished on time, and will be boarded up.

  • Not even a third of the 34 towers ITDC had to furnish in the Games Village are complete. Incidentally, their excuse is “inadequate labour force”.

To top it all, Mr. Lalit Bhanot, the Secretary General of the organizing committee is quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “some false ceiling has fallen down, which means nothing," and "these things happen even at your house."

Maybe, Mr. Bhanot – but not within days of being built!!

The shoddy execution is accompanied by huge cost overruns. Reports suggest that the cost of sports infrastructure has gone up by a factor of more than 20x. City infrastructure costs have also ballooned. The original estimate was around Rs 1,900 crores, later revised to Rs 10,000 crores. Recent independent estimates now suggest it will exceed Rs 30,000 crores!

Isn't that a mind-boggling sum?

So who will foot the bill?

Government officials claim that sponsorships will help ensure record revenues, and at least recover the money spent on the Games (excluding public infrastructure).

Many sponsors are shying away, given the risk of bad publicity and the recent withdrawal of big-name athletes like Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Usain Bolt. So far only a handful of large consumer brands have signed up, including Coca-Cola, Reebok and Hero Honda.

Given this bleak situation, recently, the government has “urged” public sector units to shell out, and said that they might classify these expenses under their CSR investments! Reportedly, the Indian Railways, NTPC and Air India are among the large sponsors that have made commitments so far.

Obviously then, the government and its various arms will foot the bill. Money that could have been spent on more deserving schemes are being diverted. An RTI application found that about Rs 265 crores from the ‘Scheduled Caste Sub Plan’ for Delhi, has been used to pay for the CWG. More than 100,000 poor slum-dwellers have been evicted (with more likely).

Directly and indirectly, citizens of Delhi and the rest of India (you and me) will end up footing the bill. An independent report, The 2010 Commonwealth Games: Whose Wealth? Whose Commons? is an eye-opener.

Why are we doing this?

Ostensibly, to showcase our great economy and management skills. But all we have done is to make ourselves a laughing stock. There's little chance that we can come anywhere near China's 2008 Olympics or South Africa's 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Very few such sporting events make money, and most end up bankrupting host cities or nations – even when costs are better controlled. So then why?

The answer lies in the whopping Rs 30,000 crore expenditure.

While nobody will officially say this, we all know why costs have bloated and stadiums are collapsing. Officials and political patrons make money on bribes from contractors, who win bids at the “lowest” price and then earn super profits by compromising on quality. Then they make more money citing over-runs and repairs. Material suppliers hoard construction materials and make a killing as we desperately race to the deadline.

When one-third of our population lives below the poverty line, and a majority of kids are malnourished, uneducated and lack access to healthcare – this is not just shameful, but criminal.

But nobody will be indicted or arrested or tried. That is the way it works – too many important people are making too much money.

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Categories: Blog, India Strategy
Arun Jethmalani

Arun Jethmalani

I am the Managing Director of ValueNotes. My 25-year working career spans IT services outsourcing, management consulting, market research, equity research, competitive intelligence and web publishing. I am also the founder and current chairman of the SCIP (India) Chapter.

Subscribe               Do get in touch with me on jetu@valuenotes.co.in or through my LinkedIn profile.

24 comments to Commonwealth Games 2010, Delhi: National Shame, Or Scam?

  • My name is Vecino Enrique Acosta , I just needed to write that the article is really great. Continue like this!

  • aditya

    these politician are shameless. these brought shame to our nation .suresh kalmadi has to be burnt alive.suresh kalmadi, sheila dixit are all burnt alive. they brought shame to our country. all the members of the cwg committe should be punished.
    if a common man bring shame toour country then he will be easily, but why not the politicians. the cm of delhi whom people beleive she had also done this. the common man give tax to the nation and these politicians use this money for their own purposes. there should be a new rule that only politicians should have to pay tax…….

  • shruthi

    i am not at all shocked.,bcoz corruption is so common in india.,,,,bt we the citizens of india should start protesting against it.,otherwise these politicians will take india to that position where india is jst a poor country.,,,,,bt we have to take our own responsibility and make our country as top most position in the up coming days.,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • jithu.c

    all those politicians and personnals should be hanged for doing malpraticises which could affect the pride of the nation

  • satheesh

    major politician and high officals are get corruption through these games , It’s shame to our country.Today i watch discovery channel they telecast the south korea bullet train project,in these project they face so many hurdles and overcome them that project are huge amount project, they completed the project earlier than the expected date and reduce the cost of the project.

    for complete the project successful one, sucessful leader and good managing leader was needed, but suresh kalmadi is not suitable person and also i blame indian goverment,delhi goverment ,politician and high officials.

  • Kash

    I think Indian people need to execute whole of their political criminal class and start with clean slate.

  • RAM GOPAL

    OUR Politicians ARE VERY CLEVER they knew Huge tax payers money will be poured in so that they can loot.They are not bothered about Games.Their Goal is to make money.Next they will bid for Olympic then loot entire India.They are shamless.People in indai who voted for them are also shamless .As long as they believe in Hero worship India will remain like this.Shamless country

  • CWG 2010 scandal update.

    http://headlinesindia.mapsofindia.com/sports-news/commonwealth-games/commonwealth-games-scam-prices-of-medical-equipment-inflated-artificially-61876.html

    Zoll Medical Corporation, USA and there Indian counterparts named in a multi-crore medical equipment scam.

  • ajay sharma

    as we know nw small gap in the common wealth games ,but still here a lots of preparatins are remains and i am worry to think about what will happen if they denied 4 the games whose will come 2 check the preprations of games..this will be an shame thing 4 our country…

  • nandini

    is india the right place to host comman wealth games2010?

  • Chetna

    Agreed…………..
    Its only India where these kind of cooruption and scam can reside everyone knows who is the defaultor but only the thiing is that they don’t want to come forward……….noone yet is been penalised or punished for this scam ………In this way these common wealth games defaming the name of our countryand its system rather than improving. this is the time that govt should show its power and set an example for a better future otherwise history will repeat itself………..

  • sam

    Rahman’s composition approved as CWG 2010 theme song

    AMIDST IRREGULARITIES, allegations of corruption in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, here comes a morale booster. The empowered group of ministers (GoM) has approved ace composer and Oscar winner A.R.Rahman’s composition as the official theme song for the CWG. The decision was taken after a meeting that took place on Sunday evening. The song titled as “Swagatham” is tentatively slated to be released in the next 10 days.

    The event which is nearly seven weeks away, its implementation and contours were discussed for nearly three hours on Sunday. Amidst speculations, Union Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy made it clear that there will not be any changes in schedule, neither should there be delays in meeting the specified deadlines in the completion and readiness of the stadias in order to host the event that spans for 11 days.

    On the composition, he asserted that the theme song was discussed between the GoM, Rahman, Film Director Shyam Benegal and Producer Bharat Bala. The song was approved in principle and will be presented before the public in another 10 days.

    With just 48 days for the games to begin and personal request from the Mozart of Madras to portray the games in a positive light, sources say that the idea behind choosing Rahman’s composition is to make it a cult song like ‘Jai Ho’ from Slumdog Millionaire and FIFA’s very own anthem, ‘Waka Waka’.

  • S K Panda

    The whole world is watching the developement in connection with Commonwealth games.What a misuse of taxpayers money and lo over and above it the scam.
    Its a shame.

  • My Dear Kal(Black)madi(bad)

    White money is too feeble to make anything swing. But
    Black ( as your name suggests) money does the trick.
    But some times it hits back.

    You should read Leo Tolstoy’s short stories
    take care

  • Naina

    For those of us who live in Delhi, we all know how much money officials from Delhi Goverment and the common wealth games officials have made. Corruption is nothing new in this country, But for Gods sake please donot put ordinary cizens life in danger by using low quality building products etc. Imagine where would we hide our shame, should any of the roofs fall down when the game is on. Anybody going for the games should think ten times, because it would mean risking ones life……..

  • Alejandro Sol

    RANT OF THE DAY: Speaking of India’s cricket obsession, I wish cricketers of all nations would stop wearing those silly pajamas with lurid colours and crass advertising and get back to wearing traditional whites, all the time! Grrrrr!!

  • Alejandro Sol

    In response to some of the comments about my comment, India does need to expand it’s sporting horizons beyond just cricket, and as an emerging superpower it beggars belief that India STILL hasn’t fielded a football team in the World Cup! There are plenty of soccer mad Indians, I met some myself, and the latent talent is obviously there. It just needs funding, at the state and federal level. Take Britain’s recent success in cycling, swimming, and rowing events, it was deemed important to fund these sports properly, and the UK started to excel and win gold medals in these disciplines. Our national football team is another question altogether, but we won’t go there!

    The corruption scandals surrounding the Commonwealth Games seems like par for the course, unfortunately, and certainly won’t be ‘value for money’ for the Indian people. It strikes me as an unusually high price to pay for a limited dose of national pride!

  • Thanks for all your comments. If you’ve been following recent news, more scams are being unearthed. Authorities in the UK are now probing cash transfer of 2,47,469 GBP to a British firm called AM Films http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/events-tournaments/commonwealth-games/top-stories/UK-government-follows-CWG-cash-trail/articleshow/6239069.cms.

    The Central Vigilance Commission has also got into the act, and has reported numerous corruption cases. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/CVC-X-rays-16-Commonwealth-Games-projects-detects-brazen-corruption/articleshow/6234730.cms.

    As they say, the s**t has really hit the fan now!

  • Mohana

    I agree with Arun and Alejandro that India can ill afford these games and this colossal overrun of costs. This money could have been better spent on making our sport facilities across the country better so that we can start producing some athletes other than cricketers and those that spend on their own coaching fees.

  • dinbdin

    well said!
    but without such events and the like, how will our politicians and their kith and kin be able to swallow food? One morsel of food goes down their system only with lubricant worth a million or two which the contracts, a necessary corollary to such events manage well.

  • Alejandro Sol

    I really wouldn’t worry too much, here in London our 2012 Olympics are now going to cost us, the taxpayers who weren’t even asked whether we wanted these games, more than three times the original budget of £3 billion!! In fact, the likely cost will probably be closer to £12 billion in the end, all for just three weeks of use, and as evidenced by all the other cities that have hosted recent summer Olympic games, the facilities will lie fallow afterward.

    The usual arguments of urban regeneration, job creation, and inspiration for future sports stars, just don’t tally. The Athens and Sydney Olympic parks are virtually unused now, they haven’t produced any notable sporting achievement, and the countries in question are saddled with the debt.

    It took Montreal roughly thirty years to pay off the debt accrued when they hosted the Olympics, and we will be no different.

    India seems hellbent of frittering away it’s money on this vanity project when what it really needs is to help raise some of it’s 500 million people living below the poverty line, above it!!!

  • Anil Kumar

    Send all those people to jail immediately who had done scam in COMMON WEALTH 2010 GAMES

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