Delhi's chief Commonwealth Games organizer fired
The Indian government fired Commonwealth Games organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Monday following allegations of corruption.
Sports Minister Ajay Maken ordered the removal of Kalmadi and an aide following a request from federal investigators, who felt that their presence was hindering investigations into graft charges.
The Kalmadi-led organizing committee has also been accused by Australian and British companies of delaying payments to them for services rendered during the Oct. 3-14 Games.
"Various matters were being probed and dues had to be settled at the earliest after proper verification," Maken said.
Organizing committee secretary-general Lalit Bhanot was also fired.
The committee will now be run by chief executive Jarnail Singh, a former civil officer.
Maken, who took over as sports minister from Manohar Singh Gill following a reshuffle of India's ministers last week, had ordered last Thursday that all payments to foreign companies be made within 10 days.
Some Australian companies are reported to have been preparing a lawsuit against the organizers of the Games and Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd even took up the matter with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna last week.
Payments are also due to British satellite broadcaster SIS Live and ES Projects, another British company which helped build temporary stands and stadia for the games.
Some companies from France, Italy and Singapore are also owed money.
Allegations of corruption dogged India's hosting of the Commonwealth Games as the budget for the Games ballooned to $15 billion US from an estimated $412 million.
The CBI earlier this month conducted raids on a dozen offices of Commonwealth Games officials and registered a criminal case against director-general V.K. Verma for allegedly buying equipment at inflated prices.
In November, the agency arrested three officials of the organizing committee — M. Jayachandran, T.S. Darbari and Sanjay Mahendroo — and accused them of forgery and cheating related to the awarding of Games-related contracts.
All three were released on bail later as the CBI failed to press charges against them.