Commonwealth Games stadium safety certificates faked
A CORRUPTION scandal rocked the New Delhi Commonwealth Games yesterday after Indian officials admitted safety certificates for most newly built stadiums have been faked.
Little more than two months before the opening ceremony, locals are calling the event “the Shame Games” after a flood of serious claims about corruption and mismanagement.
Reports yesterday revealed all the construction quality certificates inspected so far had been fake or “suspect”, raising serious concerns for athletes’ and spectators’ safety during the 12- day sporting extravaganza.
“Fake certificates were routinely issued to pass substandard work and material,” an official of the Central Vigilance Commission told the Times of India newspaper.
Other certificates were “suspect”, the official said.
“We have not yet been able to gauge the financial implications, but it is certain to have led to very big gains for vendors and contractors.”
There are also fears that much of the Games infrastructure will not be finished on time.
Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief Perry Crosswhite said last night he had no comment to make until he had further information on the alleged corruption.
The lead-up to the Games has also been clouded by a terrorism threat by the 313 Brigade, the architects of the devastating November, 2008 Mumbai attack, which killed 166 people.
The event, involving 71 nations, is already the most expensive Commonwealth Games in history, with an infrastructure and organising budget of $US2 billion ($2.22 billion), but unofficial estimates say the cost will be triple that amount.
Indian Sports Minister M. S. Gill told parliament on Friday the cost of organising the Games had risen by a factor of 17 since the bid was made in 2003.
It was also revealed yesterday that Games organisers had made an emergency plea to the Indian cricket board for a one billion rupee ($24 million) grant.
The board’s decision-making working committee, which met in Mumbai yesterday, decided to turn down the request.
India’s Opposition is demanding a judicial inquiry into the corruption allegations.
Vijay Goel, leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said “forging and fudging” of quality and safety checks had thrown open “the possibility of mishaps, blackouts and accidents”.
The corruption charges come as Delhi resembles a giant construction site, with mounds of debris surrounding dug-up roads and walkways across the city as work goes on around the clock to get the capital ready for the Games.