The Prime Minister’s Office allowed the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games to claim autonomy in decision-making and this status was misused by Suresh Kalmadi, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General report tabled in Parliament on Friday.
“Although the bid document of May 2003 envisaged OC as a government-owned registered society, with the chairman of the Organising Committee Executive Board being a government appointee, and the IOA president only being the EB vice-chairman, OC was ultimately set up in February 2005 as a non-governmental registered society, with IOA president Suresh Kalmadi as the chairman of the OCEB,” the report said.
The audit watchdog felt this change in status was critical in determining the eventual chain of command, and the manner in which the show was run. “This change was orchestrated through a sequence of events, commencing with a document titled as an `undated bid’ of December 2003, which had no legal sanctity or relevance, indicating a changed structure,” the chapter on governance and monitoring arrangements states.
This undated bid made its appearance only in September 2004, 16 months after the IOA made its bid, and 10 months after that bid was declared successful. “Despite serious objections from the erstwhile sports and youth affairs minister, the late Sunil Dutt, Kalmadi was appointed as the OC chairman, based on a PMO recommendation of December 2004,” it pointed out, adding, “This decision facilitated the conversion of the originally envisaged government-owned OC into a body outside governmental control, without commensurate accountability to government and concomitant controls to ensure propriety and transparency (despite full financial guarantee and funding from the government).”
It noted that Mani Shankar Aiyar, who succeeded Dutt as the Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, and the ministry’s secretary, the late SK Arora, had made efforts in 2007 to wrest control over the decision-making process, but to no avail. It specifically cites the letters written by Aiyar to the PMO and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in October 2007, and to the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in December 2007, lamenting the ministry’s complete lack of control over the functioning of the OC.
A few months earlier, in July 2007, Arora too had written a letter to this effect to the PMO, with a copy to the Cabinet Secretary. Drawing from his experiences a government nominee, he pointed out that EB had a very limited management and or decisionmaking authority, and the government representatives had neither any executive authority nor any means of ensuring that the government’s viewpoint was acknowledged and complied with, and surmised that all decisionmaking was concentrated with the chairman.
In the absence of a single point of authority and accountability and the lack of a clear governance structure, the reported mentions, a multiplicity of coordination committees were created, disbanded and reconstituted at different points of time. “This approach was not methodical, consistent and effective, and also led to complete diffusion of accountability. This was unlike the structure for the Melbourne CWG-2006, where the Victorian government oversaw the planning and delivery of the Games through a specially-formed committee,” it says.
Kalamdi, after becoming the OC chairman, expanded the sphere of his authority, much to the detriment of the Games. As per the host city contract (HCC), the IOA and OC jointly and severally undertook to organize the event. This was further expanded by the rules and regulations of the OC. Economic Times