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Massive loss in awarding of broadcast rights for CWG games – why no oversight ?




Ever since the activities for the Commonwealth Games in terms of preparation started, there were a number of media reports highlighting the sorry state of preparation, and even more significantly, the corruption involved in the whole process. A lot of the media reports were focused on the various scams effected by Suresh Kalmadi and his associates, starting from the Queen’s Baton relay, and a lot of the starting events in London. All of these were directly controlled by the head honchos of the CWG organizing committee, which was of course headed by Suresh Kalmadi. But besides these, there were many other cases that are only starting to get more focused attention, such as the spending by the Central Government and the Delhi Government over the stadiums (for example, for refurbishing the Nehru Stadium, a sum of over Rs. 900 crore was spent); and then is the most interesting case of the money spent for the broadcasting of the events.
So, you had the Prasar Bharti board (or rather the chief B S Lalli) deciding on a series of steps that would make any normal person believe quite credibly that they were on the take, and benefiting a private agency to the tune of a huge amount of money, like other contracts claiming that the amount of time left was less, so there were no alternatives. So, Doordarshan decided to sign a contract (where there was only one contender) for an amount of Rs. 246 crores to SIS Live, and would you believe it, SIS Live sub-contracted the same contract over to another entity, Zoom Communications for Rs 177 crore. As a result, the firm instantly made a profit of Rs. 69 crore for no service rendered by them other than taking the Government contract and sub-contracting it. And what did the Prasar Bharti board do about this seemingly huge loss to the Government ? Well, nothing. The chief of the board, as well as the Director General of Doordarshan, Ms Aruna Sharma, did not do any kind of actions that would have showed that they had the best interests of the tax-payers; it was after all not their own money to spend (or over-spend).

What is even more problematic is that by this time, there was a Group of Ministers for oversight of the spending and preparation for the Games, and it did not do anything about this. Further, there is a full Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and it did not do anything about this mess either. And yet, there are recriminations against the heads of either of these entities about the loss; they should also be brought to account for total incompetence and be punished appropriately. Yet, it is not even sure whether the main people behind this whole drama will be brought to book (link to article):

Senior political figures responsible for conduct of the Commonwealth Games are in the line of fire for their inability in preventing officials from colluding with a UK-based broadcaster to cause a Rs 135 crore loss to the government. The Shunglu committee’s interim report on the graft-tainted Games said the information and broadcasting minister and a ministerial group failed in oversight functions. It recommended action against suspended Prasar Bharati chief B S Lalli and director general of Doordarshan Aruna Sharma.
The Shunglu panel zeroed in on the contract SIS Live signed with Zoom on March 5, 2010, the same day the UK firm sealed the Rs 246 crore deal with Prasar Bharati for telecasting the Games. It goes by an Income Tax survey that a “provisional assessment” assumed the Rs 69 crore difference between the SIS-Prasar Bharati and Zoom-SIS contract as the UK company`s profit. SIS LIVE secured the contract for Rs 246 crore; assigned it to Zoom Communications for Rs 177 crore; provided no service and made a profit of the difference between contracted price and the assigned price, i.e. 69 crore!” the report says. The other possibility is that Zoom Communications “used” SIS Live to secure the contract. While the panel feels it idle to “speculate which is true”, it concludes the government overpaid at least Rs 135 crore in a contract of Rs 246 crore.




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