5 Aug : Engulfed in a spate of corruption allegations, the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee on Thursday finally cracked the whip by suspending T S Darbari and two other tainted high-ranked officers in a desperate bid to restore its credibility.
Under increasing pressure to take a tough stand as more scandals rocked the mega event, the OC also decided to terminate the multi-crore deal with an Australian company and refer cases against its tainted officials to the Enforcement Directorate.
The decisions were taken by the OC’s all-powerful Executive Board which met for an emergency meeting where the report of its three-member probe panel led by CEO Jarnail Singh.
Launching a clean-up operation, the OC decided to suspend Joint Director General T S Darbari, Deputy Director General Sanjay Mohindroo and M Jaychandran, Joint Director General (Accounts and Finance) for their alleged role in the Queen’s Baton Relay in London.
“We have suspended these officals as they were responsible for the delivery and conduct of the Queen Baton’s relay in London. We are handing over the case to the Enforcement Directorate for further investigation” OC Secretary General Lalit Bhanot told a press conference .
Bhanot said that the three-member panel probing the allegations of financial irregularities had submitted its report to the OC Chairman and the Executive Board discussed their recommendations.
Bhanot said the resignation of Anil Khanna as the treasurer had been accepted by the Executive Board which has appointed senior adminstrator A K Mattoo to the post.
“With just 60 days left for the Games, we thought of appointing Mattoo for the job as he understands the working of the Federation”, he said.
Under-fire Chairman Kalmadi, who has been facing the heat in the wake of the corruption scandals and isolated within his party, skipped the press conference leaving Bhanot and Mattoo to face the media.
Bhanot said the Executive Board had sought legal opinion before deciding to terminate the contract with the Australian company Sports Marketing and Management, which had been roped in to get sponsorships for the event.
“The Executive Committee terminated the services of SMAM with immediate effect on ground of non-performance after giving notice. We had fixed target dates for SMAM to deliver. We had fixed USD 122 million to be brought by June 30 but they failed. This is the reason of their termination. Legal opinion says we can terminate them on three day notice.”
“Not even one rupee has been paid to SMAM,” he added.
On the overlays procurement issues which had also come under the scanner, Bhanot said, “We have asked the government to give some people to verify the quality and quantity of work related to CWG.”
Elaborating on the suspension of the three top-ranked officials, Bhanot said the three member probe panel had heard their views.
“The three member committee has met all the three people suspended. Executive Board decided to suspend Darbari and Mahindroo. These two people were responsible for the delivery and conduct of the QBR. We have handed it over to ED,” he said.
“M Jaychandran, who was Jt DG Accounts and Finance at the time of QBR also needs to be punished. We will hear him tomorrow. He is also suspended,” he said.
Asked why the senior officials, including Suresh Kalmadi should not own responsibility for the corruption allegations during the QBR, Bhanot said, “It is difficult to own responsibility. There are 1500 people working in the OC and it is difficult to know what the person at first floor doing.”
“There is a system and senior management is not directly controlling all the OC staff. But I will tell you no individual official has any financial authority. It is done collectively by the Board,” he said.
Bhanot said the OC was open to any enquiry by any government agency.
“We are open to any query. And any agency of the government can investigate. But we have to deliver the Games and I am sure we will deliver it. Everybody will proud of the Games,” he said.