Published on 2 Oct 2010 Sections ,

Commonwealth Games: corruption and pride in Delhi


Commonealth Games organisers face at least 20 corruption investigations. But should Delhi be judged not by the Games, but by its new metro?

The wait is almost over. The plan was to reinvent the capital, to burnish India’s global reputation for good.

Tomorrow the Commonwealth Games begin, with organisers facing numerous corruption investigations – at least 20 are already underway.

It has been a PR disaster: a collapsing bridge, costs out of control, management accused of fraud. It was meant to be so very different.

Indians say the country’s reputation should be judged instead by a different grand project: the Delhi metro.

The Delhi tube is efficient, was delivered on time, and by a public body with public money.

The Commonwealth Games‘ projected price tag the year Delhi won the bid was £42m.

Independent experts say the cost of the Commonwealth Games is £4.2bn – 100 times more than first thought.

It has now officially jumped to £1.4bn – 34 times the original sum. But independent experts say the cost is closer to £4.2bn – 100 times more than first thought.

Government documents seen by Channel 4 News conclude “almost all the organisations executing works for the Commonwealth Games have considered inadmissible factors to jack up the reasonable price”.

On the eve of a spectacle that should have been a showcase for the best in India, corruption allegations mount. As recently as 4 June, fresh probes into goings-on at the organising committee, in addition to 16 investigations – one of them criminal – into government conduct.

The organising committee and the government have a stock position. They have told Channel 4 News that if there are any unanswered questions, time will absolve them.

Indians want to know why it took the army to fix a bridge that should have been finished months ago.

Ask Indians about pride and they point instead to the Delhi metro. One and a half million passengers a day, 100 miles of track, all delivered in little over seven years – the same seven years the games organisers spent allegedly wasting time and money.

Integrity, say Indians, is where the Commonwealth Games went wrong. They want to know why, for example, it took the army to fix a bridge that should have been finished months ago.

The law courts, and some 20 government probes may soon have an answer.

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