6 Aug 2011

Damning auditor-general's report on Delhi games

1:15 pm on 6 August 2011

India's auditor-general has released a damning report on the awarding of contracts for last year's Commonwealth Games.

The report says preparations for the games, held in Delhi in October, were deeply flawed, riddled with favouritism and vastly over budget.

It also says that there were serious irregularities with bidding and contracts, and that the seven years organisers had to prepare were wasted.

The games cost $4.7 billion instead of the $310 million first estimated, while revenue was only $43.5 million.

The head of the organising committee is already in jail on corruption charges.

Law Minister Salman Khursheed says Parliament will reflect on the report and "decide what needs to be done".

The Indian government had hoped the games would showcase its status as an emerging global power, but it was instead deeply embarrassed by construction delays, budget overruns and corruption allegations.

'Inexplicable' decision-making delays

The report says huge amounts of public money were placed at the disposal of non-government officials unwilling to heed advice from civil servants.

"The modus operandi observed over the entire gamut of activities leading to the conduct of the games was: inexplicable delays in decision-making, which put pressure on timelines and thereby led to the creation of an artificial or consciously created sense of urgency.

"Since the target date was immovable, such delays could only be overcome by seeking, and liberally granting, waivers laid down in government procedures."

Many contracts were awarded after single bids, while some were handed out without any competition.

The Delhi state government is also accused of wasting at least $33 million with an "ill-conceived" plan to beautify the city before the games, including spending nearly $9 million on foreign-made street lighting.

Delhi's Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, has rejected demands for her resignation but says she will co-operate fully with the parliamentary committee that will investigate the audit report.