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Kalmadi's OC colleagues demand emergency meeting

Source: PTI
August 02, 2010 19:45 IST
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Jolted by alleged corruption scandals in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, an embattled chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Monday faced the heat from key colleagues in the organising committee who have demanded an emergency meeting to discuss the issues.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), taking note of the Central Vigilance Commission's report on rampant corruption, also shot off a letter to the organizing committee asking it to ensure that all the venues for the October 3-14 mega-event obtain quality assurance certificates.

In a significant development, IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh called for an emergency meeting of the organising committee's Executive Board, saying the allegations are "grave".

In a letter to OC chairman Kalmadi, Randhir, who is also the OC vice-chairman, said the meeting should be called immediately considering the gravity of the allegations.

"In pursuance to media reports about financial irregularities alleged in the Queen's Baton Relay at the Buckingham Palace, since the situation is grave, the discussion should be held immediately," Randhir said in his letter.

Randhir was supported by OC treasurer Anil Khanna and IOA vice-president V K Malhotra, who also wanted an immediate meeting to discuss all the unsavoury developments.

Kalmadi is said to have agreed to the demand and called a meeting of the Executive Board on August 5 but it could not be immediately confirmed.

A major scam hit the CWG OC on Friday when it came to light that a little-known UK firm was paid lakhs of pounds for its "services" during the London leg of the Queen's Baton relay.

Kalmadi had admitted that there was no contract under which payments were made to the company which was roped in "at the last minute".

Kalmadi, who convened a press conference to clear the air, said the Indian High Commission had recommended the name of A M Films, and "if there is something wrong there, I am not responsible for it".

The OC is reported to have made a payment of nearly 4.50 lakh pounds for video equipment purchase while A M Films has claimed that it provided services of car hire, makeshift toilets, barriers and electricity.

Concerned by the rising allegations of corruption and delays, the CGF stepped in to ensure that there was no compromise in quality.

"We are concerned about the implication of the CVC report indeed. We have written to the OC following the release of the report, basically saying that we need assurances, as does the OC, from the venue owners which are essentially the government agencies that all venues are fully compliant with Government of India laws," CGF CEO Mike Hooper said.

"Certainly it is of concern and if there are immediate works that need to be done...they must do it in the next 60 days," he added.

With 62 days to go for the event, Hooper said although a proper probe is essential to find the guilty, the immediate priority for the organisers must be successful delivery of the Games.

"Clearly they (OC) are considering the allegations. They shouldÂ… and these investigations should happen. If any wrongdoing is intimated then proper action should be taken. Ultimately it is very important," he said.

"But at the moment we should be concentrating on delivering the Games," Hooper said.

Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in London refused to join issue with Kalmadi over the controversy involving a London-based firm hired for the baton relay ceremony.

For most of the day, the High Commission remained tight-lipped over the affair while the Press secretary, Ms Subhashini, was said to be on leave.

In her absence, Rabish Kumar, an official acting as the spokesman said, the High Commission is examining all aspects of the matter, but refused to say anything further.

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