New Delhi: In what could be a severe jolt to the crisis-ridden Commonwealth Games, the Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Thursday said his ministry has asked PSUs to hold back sponsorship money totalling up to Rs 260 crore for the event.
"We have already asked PSUs to hold on. Instructions were issued by DPE secretary to hold on (to) the funds," Deshmukh told PTI. As such, NTPC and PowerGrid have already held back their funds, while most of the big corporate entities have shied away from the Games. He said earlier the ministry had said that if the PSUs wanted to contribute they could. "(But )after this controversy now I think no PSU is going to contribute," he added.
The comments come within hours of Congress President Sonia Gandhi telling her party MPs that "it (Games) was a matter of national pride and efforts should be made to hold them successfully." At the same time, she said that those found guilty of corruption in works related to the Games should be punished after the event.
The ministry's direction to PSUs to withhold sponsorship funds about 10 days coincided with numerous instances of financial irregularities revealed by Central Vigilance Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Asked if the step taken by NTPC and PowerGrid is in the right direction, Deshmukh said, "Yes".
Already NTPC and PowerGrid have decided to hold back Rs 40 crore sponsorship money out of a combined committed sum of Rs 60 crore for the event. NTPC, which has already given Rs 20 crore in February out of the committed Rs 50 crore sponsorship deal, is also asking for an audit by a government appointed agency for the sum it has paid to the CWG organising committee.
The Board of the state-run power producer at its meeting on Wednesday decided to withdraw any further sponsorship for the Games to be held here during October 3-14 this year.
"Yes, we have decided to stop it (sponsorship) further," NTPC Chairman and Managing Director R S Sharma said when asked to comment on the firm's sponsorship in the wake of numerous reports of financial irregularities in the CWG organising committee. Another power public sector unit PowerGrid Corporation, which had committed to sponsor Rs 10 crore for the event, has also taken a U-turn.
"Yes, we have decided not to give any money for the Commonwealth Games," PowerGrid CMD S K Chaturvedi said. Central Bank of India has already contributed Rs 50 crore to the Games, while the Indian Railways made a budgetary provision of Rs 100 crore but was reported to be rethinking its stand after reports of Australian sports marketing firm SMAM receiving commissions.
State-run carrier Air India had also committed Rs 50 crore for the CWG, which are to come mainly in the form of services. Corruption allegations against the CWG organising committee erupted with a Central Vigilance Commission report pointing out financial bungling in handing of construction and other contracts of the Games last month.
Earlier this month, three official of the CWG organising committee, T S Darbari (joint director general), Sanjay Mahindroo (deputy-director general) and M Jeychgandran (treasurer), were sacked, along with the Australian firm SMAM. PTI