India's Kalmadi struggles to preserve 2010 Commonwealth Games

Suresh Kalmadi was in charge of organizing the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India this fall – a coming-out party akin to China's Beijing Olympics. But now he stands to lose top officials over corruption and shoddy work.

By , Staff writer

India's embattled chairman responsible for hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Suresh Kalmadi, is expected to lose several members of his organizing committee in response to revelations of shoddy work and corruption.

Organized every four years, the games to be played by members of the Commonwealth of Nations are the third-largest multisport event in the world, after the Summer Olympic Games and the Asian Games.

By hosting the Games this fall, India has treated the event as a debutante ball of sorts, hoping to showcase India as a new economic player on the world stage. Instead, the games have highlighted India’s troubles with corruption and the country’s struggle to build infrastructure efficiently – a key contrast with rival China.

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New Delhi remains a city torn apart by construction in a desperate bid to finish ambitious building and beautification projects before the games begin in October.

The treasurer for the games, Anil Khanna, resigned Thursday in response to allegations of nepotism in contracting.

Though Mr. Khanna has denied any involvement in the granting of the contract, a firm whose Indian branch is headed by Khanna’s son was awarded the contract to resurface the tennis stadium. Indian tennis players have complained about the synthetic surfacing.

The government’s Central Vigilance Commission issued a report recently that found last-minute rushing has led to overspending and shoddy work.

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“Almost all the organizations executing works for Common Wealth Games have considered inadmissible factors to jack-up the reasonable price to justify award of work at quoted rates citing urgent/emergent circumstances. Despite higher rates poor site management, delays and quality compromises have been observed.”

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Among the report’s most alarming findings, concrete core samples failed to meet strength requirements and revealed lower cement content “than prescribed and recorded to have been used.” The report also described anticorrosive treatment on reinforced steel as poor, coming off “even with a mild rubbing with hands.”

 Answering questions in Parliament today, India’s sports minister, M.S. Gill, said of the stadium venues, “What is there to examine? Nothing is ready,” but added: “Have faith in India. India will get there.”

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