The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Maharashtra legislature has sought strict action against the then civic officials of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) responsible for exorbitant expenditure on providing basic infrastructure for the 208 Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG).
In its report submitted in the Assembly,the PAC stated that there was no proper planning by PMC and PCMC while planning civic infrastructure for the CYG and also that there was lack of coordination between the two civic bodies leading to avoidable expenditure of crores of rupees,besides misuse of funds.
The PAC said this was also the conclusion drawn by the Auditor General. Strict action should be initiated against the then civic officials of PMC and PCMC for their inability to properly use government funds, the committee recommended.
The CYG was held from October 12-18,2008. Pune and three other cities wanted to host the international sporting event and Pune had won the bid. The announcement was made in 2006 and there were two years after that for preparation of the Games.
To make the event successful,the Planning Commission had approved funds under JNNURM for developing civic infrastructure for the CYG.
This work was to be carried out by PMC and PCMC in close coordination and Rs 746.36 crore had been sanctioned for roads. It was expected that the road work,electrification of roads,bus stands,pedestrian underpasses and traffic management facilities would be ready before the event,the PAC said.
There was no proper planning in carrying out the works as changes were made while the road work was on for shifting electricity cables,telephone cables,water pipelines and sewage lines. This led to delay and increased the project costs. The civic bodies had to pay heavy amounts to contractors for speeding up the work and contractors made a good profit out of it, according to PAC.
Hotel for athletes: CAG slammed civic body for flouting norms
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the infrastructure development in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad for the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) in Pune had passed strictures against the civic body for flouting norms in the construction of hotel for athletes. According to the report,the hotel was constructed on the land reserved for public semi-public (PSP) services,which do not allow setting up of commercial structures.
To provide lodging facilities to as many as 1,700 athletes coming to the city for the Games,this hotel was sanctioned to be constructed under private public partnership (PPP),with a reviewing committee consisting of senior officers from both state and civic bodies.
According to the report,the fact that the hotel was being constructed on the land reserved for PSP was apparently overlooked by the reviewing committee as it did not raise any objection to the project since 2006. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) commissioner,who was part of the committee,had also not raised any objection on the issue.
The construction work of the hotel started in February,2007,but the city engineer of PMC rejected building permission in April,2007,citing reservation of the land. The matter was referred to the state government in May who worked out a concession agreement in July. Between October and November,the reserved tag of the land was removed by the state government while part completion of the hotel was granted in September 2008.
The report also mentioned the way the Organising Committee relaxed various norms for tenders.
The photographs of the hotel indicate that the facility was primarily oriented towards a superior class hotel rather than merely a functional hostel of international standard for accommodating athletes. While it is appreciated that suitable accommodation had to be provided to the CYG participants,evidently,under the guise of hosting the athletes and officials,a hotel was allowed to be constructed through change of land use with a minimal premium accruing to government. If indeed the intent was to convert public semi-public land for commercial use,the government chose to ignore an opportunity for unlocking the full market value of the land in a prime location, concluded he report.
Kalmadi denies wrongdoing
MP Suresh Kalmadi,in a written statement,has denied any wrongdoing on his part as indicated by the PAC report. Kalmadi said that though it was mandatory for PAC to call him for a hearing,he was never summoned. He also claimed that the proper utilisation certificate was submitted by the Organising Committee to the government on time. I do not know if PAC had sought the same from the government, said Kalmadi. He added that this was an effort to tarnish his image before the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.