On Sunday (April 18), Delhi Chief Minister announced that a Coronavirus treatment facility will be set up at the Commonwealth Games Village. He informed, “Commonwealth Games Village and some schools too will be turned into Covid centres and the Covid facility at Radha Soami Satsang Beas will be reopened. As of April 19, Delhi has reported 74,941 total active cases and 12,121 fatalities.
As per reports, the new Covid-19 centre at the Commonwealth Games Stadium will have 465 beds, out of which 215 have oxygen supply. The facility can extend its capacity to up to 600 beds. Moreover, a team of 50 doctors and 100 nurses will take care of the infected patients (ranging from moderate to mild symptoms) that are referred from the Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital. However, patients were severe symptoms will be treated at the hospitals. The Coronavirus treatment facility will be operated jointly by the Delhi government and an NGO named Doctors for You.
But just a decade earlier, the Commonwealth Games Village was at the epicentre of a massive controversy. A major financial scam was unearthed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), after the conclusion of the October 2010 Commonwealth Games. The scam created a public outcry and paved the way for the exit of the Congress party from the power corridors in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Here is the chronology of the infamous tale of corruption.
High-level committee was tasked to investigate allegations of coruuption
While the Commonwealth Games was underway in 2010, allegations of corruption and mismanagement arose against the Organising Committee. After the conclusion of the event, the Union government had therefore appointed a high-level committee. It comprising of ex-Auditor General VK Shungloo, and asked it to file a report within 3 months to the Prime Minister’s Office. The committee was tasked to look into all aspects of the organisation and conduct of the event.
Congress politician at the helm of the scam
Besides the high-level committee, the Centre directed the Central Vigilance Committee (CVC), IT Department, CBI, and Enforcement Directorate to conduct an independent investigation. During the probe, it was found that a Congress politician by the name of Suresh Kalmadi was at the helm of the financial scam. Kalmadi, a member of the Organising Committee, had procured Timing-Scoring-Result (TSR) systems from a Swedish company called Swiss Timing.
He had paid ₹141 crores to the firm to buy the TRS systems, which was ₹95 crores more expensive than what was offered by the other bidder named MSL Spain. Although the bidding took place on November 4, 2009, Kalmadi had awarded the contract to Swiss Timing on October 12 of that year itself. Reportedly, he along his aide VK Verma eliminated the competition in return for kickbacks.
The Arrest of Suresh Kalmadi; first charge sheet filed in May 2011
Suresh Kalmadi was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on April 25, 2011, for his role in the Timing-Scoring-Result (TSR) case. on May 20, 2011, a chargesheet was filed against him and 8 others including Verma and Organising Committee Secretary General Lalit Bhanot for criminal conspiracy, forging documents and passing them off as genuine. The charges were added under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Indian Penal Code Sections 120B, Sections 420, 467, 468, and 471. He served a total of 10 months in jail, before securing bail.
50 cases in CWG scam still pending, RTI revealed in 2020
According to an RTI filed by the Indian Express in 2020, over 50 cases of payment disputes related to the Commonwealth Game scam still remain pending. The Indian government had informed that about ₹6.92 crores had been paid by it to the arbitrators as of March 31, 2020. Citing sources, Indian Express reported that close to ₹700 crores worth of contract disputes are yet to be settled.
Furthermore, the RTI said that the 50 cases involved 33 vendors, authorities and individuals. Some of the firms include Swiss Timing (contracts worth ₹135.27 crore), Nussli India (₹140 crores) and Electronics Corporation of India (₹346 crores). It must be mentioned the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India had reported that the budget of the CWG had increased from ₹297 crores in 2003 to ₹18,532.31 crore in October 2010.
The Government in its RIT reply informed, “Payments are made to the concerned Party(ies) as and when due based on Arbitration awards/Court orders… Interests are paid, if any, to the concerned Party(ies) as and when due based on Arbitration awards/Court orders.”