Intro: Allegations of mass corruption have come up with the coming up of ‘Kumbh Mela’ of corruption. The Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy and Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan are competing for the title of ‘Suresh Kalmadis’.
As per current indications the 35th National Games scheduled to commence on January 31 at Thiruvananthapuram is going the Common Wealth Games 2010 (CWG) way. While 11,000 crore was the budget of the CWG 2010, the National Games budget is 700 crore. Allegations of mass corruption have come up with CPM Opposition Leader VS Atchudanandan terming it, the ‘Kumbh Mela’ of corruption. He further said that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan are competing for the title of ‘Suresh Kalmadis’ of Kerala.
Congress and Kerala Congress MLAs Palode Ravi and KB Ganesh Kumar have resigned from the managing committees alleging graft. Even former DGP and CEO of the games Jacob Punnoose kept away from the countdown function. Out of the 400 members managing committee only 50 attended last meet. Total chaos and confusion reigns in all the event venues.
A stadium costing 161 crore has been constructed just for the opening and closing ceremonies. Work on shooting range, athletic stadium, squash complex, gymnastic stadium, tennis complex, cycling velodrome etc. is going on at snail’s pace. Most of the sporting equipment has not arrived even now and organisers are planning to take these on rent or lease at heavy additional costs. The floodlights put up at various stadiums are found defective. The swimming pool constructed at cost of several crore is leaking for the past six months unattended.
Approach roads to all these venues are in pitiable condition. 30 crore have been set apart for the opening and closing ceremonies and these are to be handed over to event-management companies. 10.60 crore is also being handed over to a pro-Congress media for organising ‘Run Kerala Run’, a mass run curtain-raiser. This has evoked strong protest from print/electronic media. Most of the 12 committees are dominated by politicians. The catering contract worth crores for lakhs of sports-persons, guests, officials, spectators etc. has been given to a pro-Congress caterer of Kashmir. He has no prior experience in catering to such a major event.
Added to the lack of equipments and infrastructure is the delay in selection and training of Kerala athletes. With politicians controlling various sports bodies, they are favouring their supporters.
The synthetic track for the hockey stadium at Asramom Grounds, Kollam, worth four crore is rotting for the past one month and is proving good food for rats. While crores are being wasted, the organisers are reluctant to provide 18 crore requested by the Kerala Police for purchasing equipments and vehicles for the safety and security of the event, in the event of the increased Maoist threat and visit of the President and Prime Minister of India.
Former Minister KB Ganesh Kumar has alleged that VK Ibrahimkutty, the PWD Minister and Muslim League are major beneficiaries of the mass corruption in the construction of various stadiums and buildings. According to Congress the work started during the term of the CPM regime and that it was CPM Sports Minister Vijayakumar who gave the contract.
—S chandrashekhar from Thiruvanthapuram