Inflated bills from the Queen’s Baton Relay have come back to haunt the OC, says Raman Kirpal
THE QUEEN’S Baton is becoming a stick with which to beat 2010 Commonwealth Games organiser Suresh Kalmadi. For, Rs 60 crore was spent on its ceremonial journey through 71 countries, a fact that has landed three of Kalmadi’s associates in CBI custody for inflated bills. In 1958, when the CWG began, there was no such practice. It was first introduced in 2002 with 17 countries, which became 71 by 2006.
The CWG Organising Committee (OC) apparently spent £50,000 on the baton relay in the Falklands, which has a population of just 3,000. But Lt Gen (retired) Raj Kadyan clarifies, “The international component of QBR budget was Rs 12.77 crore. Only 11 persons — Avnil Avasa, Manil Lavela, Lt Colonel Vanstu, Adam Best, Shivansh Bhatnagar, Jason Dwyer, Subi Aizack, Di Henry, Parul Thapar, Lousie Rosa and Priyanka Negi — were selected for the task. At a time, two of them used to go with the baton to a country. My department bore expenses towards stay and travel of only these two.’’
He also states that in India, almost all the states provided travel and accommodation for the baton team. “In fact, Tata provided us vehicles in India and so we did not incur a penny on hiring the vehicles,’’ he says.
It’s the unofficial contingent that sleuths are putting under the microscope. In the Asian component were National Students Union of India’s Alka Lamba, Haryana politician and OC member Ajay Chautala, IOA Vice-President K Murugan, Manipur Olympic Association Secretary L Mangalem Singh and OC member and Chhattisgarh Olympic Association President Dr Anil Verma. Lamba is not even an OC member, yet she had an extensive tour of the country. More names are likely to surface in the coming days.
The investigating agencies are looking into the details of hiring companies for functions elsewhere. The task is stupendous, covering 3 lakh miles, and involves countries as tiny as St Helena.