Commonwealth Games committee chief Kalmadi sacked

India's new sports minister Ajay Maken removes tainted official over allegations of corruption from Australian and British companies.

Powered by automated translation

NEW DELHI // The Indian government has sacked Suresh Kalmadi, the Commonwealth Games organising committee chairman, following allegations of corruption.

Ajay Maken, the sports minister, ordered the removal of Kalmadi and an aide following a request from federal investigators, who felt that their presence was hindering investigations into graft charges.

The Kalmadi-led organising committee has also been accused by Australian and British companies of delaying payments to them for services rendered during the October 3-14 Games.

"Various matters were being probed and dues had to be settled at the earliest after proper verification," Maken said.

Lalit Bhanot, the organising committee secretary general, was also sacked.

The committee will now be run by Jarnail Singh, the chief executive and a former civil officer.

Maken, who took over as sports minister from Manohar Singh Gill following a reshuffle of India's ministers last week, had ordered last Thursday that all payments to foreign companies be made within 10 days.

Some Australian companies are reported to have been preparing a lawsuit against the organisers of the Games and Kevin Rudd, the Australian foreign minister, even took up the matter last week with SM Krishna, his Indian counterpart.

Payments are also due to the British satellite broadcaster SIS Live and ES Projects, another British company which helped build temporary stands and stadiums for the Games.

Some companies from France, Italy and Singapore are also owed money.

Allegations of corruption dogged India's hosting of the Commonwealth Games as the budget ballooned to US$15 billion (Dh55bn) from an estimated $412 million.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier this month conducted raids on a dozen offices of Commonwealth Games officials and registered a criminal case against VK Verma, the director general, for allegedly buying equipment at inflated prices.

The agency had in November arrested three officials of the organising committee - M Jayachandran, TS Darbari and Sanjay Mahendroo - and accused them of forgery and cheating related to the awarding of games-related contracts.

All three were released on bail later as the CBI failed to press charges against them.