Friday, March 19, 2010

CWG to get another 700cr more for meeting rising cost

After the budget for conducting the Commonwealth Games was more than doubled from Rs 767 crore to Rs 1,670 crore just three months ago, the event is to receive another Rs 700 crore for ‘‘outlays’’ — an innocuous-sounding word essentially meaning furnishing.

Even as the Cabinet is set to consider the huge hike on Friday, the jump does not include expenses such as upgrade of sporting infrastructure, security, roads and bridges and various civil works aimed at beautifying the city. The total cost of the Games is estimated to be over Rs 10,000 crore, even though this does not include the bill for a part of airport modernization and Games-related Metro projects.

With the Games, scheduled for October 3-14, nearing rapidly, the government has had to put up with a sharp escalation of costs in order to ensure the prestigious event is staged without a glitch. But even as it races to meet deadlines, the Rs 700-crore jump is hardly an insignificant increase given that it is related to ‘‘soft’’ infrastructure like facades, furniture and design elements.

The Suresh Kalmadi-led organizing committee has been under fire for slipping on deadlines.

Going Through The Roof?

Rs 5165cr: Original total cost of Games projected in 2006, including cost of civil and stadium infrastructure as well as training

Rs 10,000cr: Total cost now estimated, which does not include projects like airport modernization and Games-related Metro work

Rs 2,050cr: Budget for Delhi government work alone, which includes a few stadiums but is chiefly related to roads and bridges

Rs 6,200cr: Estimated cost of renovating existing stadiums and constructing new ones as well as conducting the 2010 Games

Kalmadi clout ensures more flow of funds

Even as the Cabinet considers the huge hike on Friday, officials monitoring preparation for the Games have repeatedly expressed the apprehension that the rush to ensure timely completion could see budgets going haywire.

With national pride at stake, the government would have little option but to fork out more funds even as oversight suffers.

The PMO was forced to intervene and put in place a team of officials headed by a CEO after the Commonwealth Games Federation warned that Delhi was slipping on deadlines. But Kalmadi is still seen to be in the driver’s seat and the man behind major decisions.

Some surprise has been expressed over plans to hire furniture from foreign suppliers which is to be shipped out after the Games are over.

Given Kalmadi’s ability to have his way, there is not much doubt that the proposals will sail through. Another indication of the Congress MP’s clout came by way of his being named a secretary to the Congress parliamentary party executive recently.

The initial estimates in 2006 for the Games as a whole had been a little more than Rs 5,000 crore. This had included Rs 1,000 crore for the Games Village, Rs 1,700 crore for venue infrastructure, Rs 1,300 crore for civil infrastructure and Rs 300 crore for training the Indian contingent. Only recently, the budget for the Delhi government was raised to Rs 2,050 crore for its work alone, which includes a few stadia but is chiefly related to roads and bridges.