Last audit slams Indian work on Commonwealth Games

ASHOK SHARMA - Associated Press
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Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General of India Rekha Gupta holds up the audit report on the 2010 Commonwealth Games, during a press conference in New Delhi, India, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. India's top auditing body on Friday slammed the preparations and conduct of the games last year as deeply flawed, riddled with favoritism and vastly more expensive than planned. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

NEW DELHI (AP) — Auditors slammed India's preparations and conduct of the Commonwealth Games last year as deeply flawed, riddled with favoritism and vastly more expensive than planned in a final report that could result in criminal prosecutions.

India had hoped the games would buff its image as a rising superpower. Instead it was deeply embarrassed by construction delays, cost overruns and corruption allegations. The head of the organizing committee, Suresh Kalmadi, is in jail on corruption charges.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India's report questioned Kalmadi's appointment on a recommendation by the prime minister's office in 2004 despite objections from the then-Sports Minister Sunil Dutt.

Law Minister Salman Khursheed said the report from India's top auditing body was presented to Parliament on Friday. "Parliament will reflect on it and decide what needs to be done."

The report also said there were serious irregularities with bidding and contracts. A parliamentary committee will now decide on prosecuting erring officials.

It said the games cost $4.1 billion instead of the $270 million initially estimated. Games revenue that was supposed to pay for the event amounted to only $38 million.

It said the construction of venues and infrastructure lagged behind schedule as the seven-year window from 2003 to 2010 for preparations of the games was wasted.

"The argument of urgency was used to obviate the regular process of tendering for award of contracts," said Rekha Gupta, one of the auditors, adding that competition was limited to favor particular vendors.

The overlays contracts were signed at exorbitant rates by the organizing committee, causing huge financial loss to the committee and the Indian government, Gupta said.

The report also said the contract for a timing, scoring and results system was awarded to Swiss timing company Omega SA after irregularly disqualifying MSL Spain.

It also said the contract for building the games village for housing athletes and officials was awarded to Emaar MGF Constructions on the basis of a single financial bid, denying New Delhi's Development Authority the benefit of financial competition.

It blamed New Delhi's top elected leader, Sheila Dikshit, for using imported luminaries for improving the street lighting in the Indian capital after procuring them at a far higher cost than the domestic luminaries.

This cost the government an extra 370 million rupees($7.7 million), the report said.

The auditors also said the renovation of Connaught place, a high-end shopping center in the Indian capital, was plagued by long delays. The estimated renovation cost of 760 million rupees ($15.8 million) went up nearly nine-fold from 2004 to 2007.

Balbir Punj, a leader of opposition Hindu nationalist party demanded immediate resignation of New Delhi Chief Minister Dikshit.

She, however, rejected the opposition demand and said she would fully cooperate with the parliamentary committee which would go into the audit report.