By Duncan Mackay

Delhi_2010_Commonwealth_Games_audit_held_upAugust 6 - India's preparations for last year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi have been condemned as being deeply flawed, riddled with favouritism and cost 16 times more than the original esimate, a newly published report has concluded.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India's report has put more pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, already facing mounting criticism over the fact that Suresh Kalmadi was allowed to continue in his role as chairman of the Organising Committee despite recommendations from a succession of Sports Ministers that he should be replaced. 

Kalmadi is now in jail facing corruption charges. 

The report found that the Games cost $4.1 billion (£2.5 billion/€2.9 million) instead of the $270 million (£165 million/€189 million) initially estimated.

Games revenue that was supposed to pay for the event amounted to only $38 million (£23 million/€27 million).

The CAG claimed the budget was ''highly inefficient and deficient'.

It said the construction of venues and infrastructure lagged behind schedule as the seven-year window from 2003 to 2010 for preparations of the Games was wasted.

"The argument of urgency was used to obviate the regular process of tendering for award of contracts," said Rekha Gupta, one of the auditors, adding that competition was limited to favour particular vendors.

The overlays contracts were signed at exorbitant rates by the Organising Committee, causing huge financial loss for them and the Indian Government, Gupta said.

The report also said the contract for a timing, scoring and results system was awarded to Swiss timing company Omega SA after irregularly disqualifying MSL Spain.

Kalmadi was arrested in April "for conspiracy to cause favour to a company in Switzerland while procuring timers and scoring equipment for the Games".

Other charges against him relate to contracts at a 2009 event in London which marked the start of the Queen's Baton Relay.

Other deals that were suspicious, reported the CAG, included the lighting contract for the Opening Ceremony and venue catering.

Suspect payments and other financial irregularities are listed, and the renovation of Delhi's Connaught Place is found to have cost nine times more than was budgeted.

It also said the contract for building the Athletes Village was awarded to Emaar MGF Constructions on the basis of a single financial bid, denying New Delhi's Development Authority the benefit of financial competition.

''In the absence of a single point of authority and accountability, and the lack of a clear governance structure, a multiplicity of coordination committees was created, disbanded and reconstituted at different points of time,'' the audit states.

It blamed New Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for using foreign firms for improving the street lighting in the Indian capital after procuring them at a far higher cost than the domestic companies.

This cost the Government an extra 370 million rupees(£4.7 million/$7.7 million/€5.4 million), the report said.

Balbir Punj, a leader of opposition Hindu nationalist party demanded immediate resignation of Dikshit.

She, however, rejected the opposition demand and said she would fully cooperate with the Parliamentary committee which would go into the audit report.

"We have not done anything wrong," said Dikshit.

"Everything was done keeping in mind the national interest and prestige.

"We were entrusted with certain responsibilities and we delivered them."

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