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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Govt may appoint panel to dilute Kalmadi's authority

Govt may appoint panel to dilute Kalmadi's authority

August 12, 2010 21:45 IST

Even as Suresh Kalmadi continues to be in the eye of a storm and battles charges of corruption, sources say the government and his party are looking at two options in a bid to save the Commonwealth Games and protect the government from further bad publicity on issues of corruption.

The sources said a move is afoot to appoint a supervisory committee, to be headed by the cabinet secretary (since no political leader wants to take on the mantle at this stage), which will monitor the preparations for the Games and, in the process, dilute Kalmadi's authority as well as act as a watchdog over his activities.

The second option is to seek Kalmadi's resignation and, in his place, appoint K P Singh Deo, who is the vice-president in the Indian Olympic Association.

This, they say, would be done before the Games, though the general feeling is that it is already too late and Kalmadi should be retained till the end of the October 3-14 jamboree, after which he will have to go, as a large number of enquiries would open against him.

In the meantime, new allegations of corruption have hit the IOA chief through an interim report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.

The document indicts the top rung of the Games -- Kalmadi, who is chairman of the Commonwealth Games' Organising Committee, Mike Fennel, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, and Chief Executive Officer Mike Hooper.

The interim report suggests gigantic lapses in the way companies were chosen to handle broadcast and sponsorship rights.

By selecting Fast Track Sales of London to handle the broadcast rights, the report suggests that Rs 24 crore was lost in revenue. It also says other bids were not studied before Fast Track was awarded the contract.

Kalmadi though says that the Organising Committee (OC) received only two bids, and it chose Fast track because the firm had handled TV rights for four of the last five Commonwealth Games.

Team Kalmadi also praises Fast Track for delivering 262 crore through international sales of television rights, in comparison to the 120 crore it had promised when it bid for the contract.

Interestingly, the Organising Committee says the other company to bid for the TV rights was Sports Marketing and Management (SMAM), based in Melbourne. SMAM did not have the required experience to handle broadcast needs, says Team Kalmadi.

What SMAM did end up with -- till last week -- was a highly-valuable deal to handle sponsorship and international advertising for the Games.

The CAG interim report states while four companies wanted to apply for the contract, only SMAM was considered. The contract was cancelled last week by the OC for "non-performance". The Games currently has 400 crore in sponsorship against their target of 1000.

For the Queen's Baton Relay in October last year, the interim report says the consultants chosen for the ceremony were, bizarrely, the highest bidder. By using Maxxam International, the interim report states, Rs 6.16 crore was wasted. Maxxam's bid was five times more than the lowest bid received.

Team Kalmadi, however, says Maxxam had the experience in handling the same ceremony for earlier Games, and the company was chosen because "the country's prestige was at stake".

Meanwhile, VK Verma, a Director General of the OC, defended Kalmadi, stating, "All major contracts, SMAM, MAXX, have gone through the Executive Board, not single-handedly by Kalmadi. He was just a chairman of the board."

The interim report also details how money was squandered on hotels, transportation, entertainment, leasing houses for senior officials and guidelines were blatantly violated in utter disregard for norms and laid out procedures.

Sources say this is only the tip of the iceberg as the CAG will also look at various other agencies involved in preparations for the October Games.

Renu Mittal New Delhi