Our Common Wealth
Delhi won the right to conduct the 2010 Common Wealth Games (CWG) in November 2003. Work began in earnest after that, or so we all hoped. The Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) then responded to what it refers to as serious concerns expressed about India’s preparedness in hosting this event towards late 2008 and early 2009.
The CAG then conducted a study between March and May 2009 and a brief report was sent to the Government in July 2009. Responding to further 'concerns expressed by all sections of society’ the CAG decided to conduct an external audit post completion of the games. This is the report that raised a stink in Parliament recently. Remember that the budgeted estimate for the games in May 2003 was Rs 1,200 crore. And the final figure was Rs 18,532 crore (not including allied infrastructure expenditure).
The problem was thus with the original budget as final as the final one. Moreover, the general modus operandi was: inexplicable delays in decision making, pressure on timelines and then creation of urgency leading to waivers in government contracting procedures. Many contracts were entertained on single bids, and even awarded on a nominal basis. The details can be accessed from the full report.
What is worrying is the diabolical planning combined with who-gives-a-damn attitude of the men and women running the CWG project. For instance, how through a series of steps, the CWG’s Organising Committee (OC) which was supposed to be under Government control went out of its control, becoming a non-Government registered society.
The learnings would only come if the processes were monitored too. As in alerts raised and focus tightened whenever there are time over-runs in Government projects. Because they often mark the beginning of the loot.