Saturday, August 21, 2010

Big Balloon Purchased Without any Tender

The signature song of the Delhi Games 2010 may not be ready but the creative team, which zipped off to London along with top brass of the organizing committee (OC) on Monday, would be hoping at least its signature stunt the helium balloon is ready to be unveiled. With just 46 days left, the creative team will be present for the testing of the balloon, otherwise known as the aerostat, in London over the next few days. The aerostat, which has been rented for Rs 38 crore, will be the showpiece of the opening ceremony, say the OC officials.

Interestingly, no one seems to be aware of why only K Events, the firm chosen to bring the aerostat to India, has the expertise for this particular job. Sources confirmed that no open RFP (request for proposal) was floated for the balloon, with the firm being hired on the suggestion of the international consultants connected with the ceremonies. Said a top ministry official who had attended the GoM (group of ministers) meeting when the recommendation was forwarded, ‘‘The approval was given on the understanding that no other firm was capable of producing a show of such (Delhi Games 2010) magnitude.’’ Sources say the GoM had recommended the setting up of a fast track committee to refer and approve the firm. OC spokesperson, Lalit Bhanot, however, refused to comment on the matter. ‘‘I have no knowledge of the opening and closing ceremonies,’’ said Bhanot.

On Tuesday though, the OC was waiting for the testing of the aerostat to go off well, especially considering the balloon was originally supposed to have been delivered a month ago. According to the OC officials, the chief international adviser for the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the aerostat project is Ric Birch. ‘‘The fact is that no Indian company or consortium could provide us a spectacular showpiece like the one ordered. It’s for the first time in the world that such a large helium balloon will be used for a sporting event,’’ added the official.

The idea of the aerostat project, cleared by the GoM, started floating in January 2010 during a workshop of creative heads including Bharat Bala, Prasoon Joshi, Shyam Benegal, Javed Akhtar and Ric Birch. There are other elements to the project including flying rigging equipment and scenic flying, aerostat skirt decoration and video projection worth around Rs 4 crore. The structure will serve as a huge screen, visible to all spectators.