Coalition Releases Charter of Demands of Communities Affected by The 2010 Commonwealth Games; Calls For Justice

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

PRESS NOTE

New Delhi, December 7, 2010

‘The Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games’ organised a public meeting and media consultation with the communities affected by the Commonwealth Games (CWG). The coalition also released a charter of demands to Members of Parliament, Members of the Legislative Assembly, and the media.

‘The Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games’ consists of a number of organisations, civil society groups, and social movements that have been working on the human rights impacts of the CWG. Although the members work in diverse areas and have opposed the Games for different reasons, they unanimously condemn the large-scale human rights violations in the city, the financial irregularities inherent in the CWG process, and the continued lack of redressal for the grievances of the poor and marginalised citizens of Delhi.

Members from affected communities spoke about a range of human rights violations that they have had to face due to the CWG. These include:
* The forced eviction and displacement of approximately 250,000 people for the Games, including in the ‘beautification’, ‘cleaning’ and ‘security’ drives in Delhi.

* The arrests, detention and forced removal of ‘beggars’ and homeless citizens from Delhi for the duration of the Games. The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act 1959 was used to arrest and detain ‘beggars’ as well as gainfully employed homeless citizens. Several people were threatened to leave Delhi and forcefully sent back to their homes.

* The violation of the rights of construction workers, most of them migrants, who were denied adequate wages and safe working and living conditions. In many instances even children were made to work at the sites.

* The eviction of domestic workers, drivers, plumbers, and other informal sector workers and labour groups.

* The trafficking of women and young girls from other states for CWG visitors and participants.

* The loss of livelihoods for over 300,000 street vendors (according to the National Association of Street Vendors of India – NASVI). Cart-pullers, vegetable sellers, waste-pickers, balloon sellers, cobblers, street-food vendors and others were prevented from working on the streets, and thus denied their right to work and livelihood. Many of them were forced into starvation since they had no money to buy food. Eateries and weekly markets were also forcibly shut down. (Estimation from various sources put the figure at a daily income loss of Rs.10,70,00,000 (10 crore and 70 lakh rupees) for the above-mentioned groups)

* The diversion of Rs. 678.91 crore for Scheduled Castes in Delhi from the Special Component Plan to cover CWG-related costs. This was in violation of the 2006 Planning Commission Guidelines.


The socio-economic middle class of Delhi has also been affected by the Commonwealth Games. Apart from the inconveniences and restrictions imposed on them during the Games, they will also have to pay for the huge economic deficit of the Games for many years.

Dharam Halder from Bengali Camp highlighted the manner in which evictions had been carried out and stressed the fact that no compensation had been paid to them. “There is no one for us poor people. The government threw us out and the media has also abandoned us. We trust no one.” Sri Ram, who was displaced from Prabhu Market, Lodi Road, said, “Not only have we been robbed of our houses but attempts have been made to reduce our lives to nothingness. We are not allowed to sell vegetables and other wares on the road and face constant harassment from the police. How do we earn our living and feed our children?”

Sakkoo Bai, a woman from the Motia Khan shelter who had been evicted from the Rachna Golchakkar night shelter spoke about the suffering they faced due to the CWG. They were forced to stop working during the Games and had to rely on civil society support to survive. Mansur Khan from Beghar Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti highlighted the plight of homeless citizens, many of whom faced forceful expulsion from Delhi during the Games.

The Charter released by the Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games makes several demands, including calling on the government to oblige with its legal commitments and to ensure justice for the affected communities.

The concerned authorities need to urgently:
* Ensure that the ongoing investigations by multiple agencies, including the Shunglu Committee, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement

* Directorate, the Central Vigilance Commission, and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, include human rights violations in their ambit;

* Provide just and adequate compensation for livelihoods and homes lost due to the Games;

* Provide adequate rehabilitation, including housing and basic services, for all displaced families;

* Improve living conditions in resettlement sites, according to international human rights standards;

* Provide a moratorium on the proposed eviction of 44 listed JJ clusters;

* Ensure payment of adequate wages and benefits to all construction workers;

* Formulate a comprehensive post-Games legacy plan based on principles of social justice, equity and environmental sustainability;

* Investigate all concerned public officials for the misappropriation of public funds and corruption charges;

* Return funds diverted from the Special Component Plan in a manner best suited to the community, as also reiterated by Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram in the Rajya Sabha; and,

* Ensure that guilty officials are prosecuted according to the law.

The following organisations are members of ‘The Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games’ and support the communities in their demands:
Indo-Global Social Service Society
Jhuggi Jhopdi Ekta Manch
Hazards Centre
Housing and Land Rights Network
National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights
Praxis

For more details, contact: Indu Prakash: 99113 62925, Dunu Roy: 9910687627 Dinesh: 8800731751, Mansur Khan: 92119 79454; Paul Divakar: 99100 46813; Shivani Chaudhry: 9818 205 234; Sowmyaa: 95606 59595

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A CHARTER OF DEMANDS OF COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES

The Coalition against Exclusions and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games1 (CWG), presents this charter of demands on behalf of communities affected by the CWG.

India hosted the Commonwealth Games 2010 from 3rd to 14th October 2010 in New Delhi despite scathing criticism and embarrassing evidence of misappropriation of funds and human rights violations exposed by the media and researchers. What overshadows the ostensible successful accomplishment of hosting the mega sports event is arguably the issue of violation of citizenship and human rights and social justice that has been the direct consequence of the Commonwealth Games. In the name of security and in order to ‘beautify’ the city for the Games, thousands of citizens were denied their fundamental rights of freedom of movement, adequate housing, food, and of engaging in trade and occupations of their choice. Street vendors and rickshaw pullers were barred from carrying on their businesses, weekly markets were not permitted, roadside shops and jhuggis (slums/temporary shelters) were demolished, homeless citizens and beggars were arrested and forcefully removed from the city, and construction workers were denied wages and adequate living conditions and forcefully sent back home. The significant issue that emerges is that these rights were selectively denied to certain sections of society.

Members of the Coalition against Exclusions and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games work closely with several of the above-mentioned groups and present below a charter of demands, which emerged from discussions with them.

1. Immediate and Just Compensation to:
a. Construction workers on all CWG sites;
b. Rehabilitation and adequate compensation to slum dwellers who were evicted during the Commonwealth Games, and moratorium on eviction of the 44 listed JJ clusters;
c. Daily wage labourers, homeless citizens, ‘beggars’, and other informal sector workers who were not permitted to carry out business in the run-up to as well as during the CWG.

2. A clear legacy plan for the CWG, which explains how the well-being of the citizens will be ensured, how the infrastructure created for the Games will be equitably used, and how benefits will be distributed to disadvantaged and marginalised groups.

3. Immediate return of Rs. 678.91 crore diverted from the Special Component Plan (Scheduled Caste Sub Plan) for the purpose of Commonwealth Games by the end of the financial year 2010-11.
a. SCP fund should be kept aside before allocating to the line departments / ministries.
b. Entire SCP fund should be spent on programmes directly benefiting individuals, families and hamlets. Programmes related to education and employment should be focused on individuals and families, and civic amenities related programmes should be focused on hamlets.

4. All investigation agencies must include human rights violations in the ambit of their enquiry. The investigations should also probe all relevant senior government officials.

5. The perpetrators of these crimes must be identified and suitable action must be taken against the guilty, in accordance with the law.

1 The Coalition comprises representatives and partners of Housing and Land Rights Network, Indo Global Social Service Society, Jhuggi Jhopadi Ekta Manch, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, Hazards Centre and Praxis (as secretariat of Social Equity Watch)

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To link to this article and get a PDF of the Charter of Demands, visit the South Asia Citizens Web at
http://www.sacw.net/spip.php?page=imprimer&id_article=1732

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Citizen”s initiative demands justice for urban poor

From MSN news:

New Delhi, Dec 7 (PTI) A coalition of civil society groups today demanded “justice” for victims of alleged large- scale human rights violations” of rickshaw pullers, street vendors and pavement dwellers during the Commonwealth Games.

The demands include immediate compensation to construction workers who had worked at the Games venues and daily wage earners who were not allowed to do business during the time as well as rehabilitation of those evicted from their homes.

The ”Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games” by Social Equity Watch has released a community charter to counter “continued lack of redressal” of the grievances of the marginalised arising out of the preparations for the mega-event.

“Corruption is one major aspect, but alongwith corruption accountability of the government to the welfare of the people which has been violated…,” Paul Divakar of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) said on the charter”s purpose.

The return of Rs 678.91 crore diverted from the Special Component Plan (Scheduled Caste Sub Plan) for CWG by the government by end of this year has also been demanded.

A third demand is the probe of human rights violations in inquiries being conducted into the Games by investigating agencies.

Narrating his experience during the its release, Bhuvan Das, a hawker who resided in Bengali camp, claimed families in the area were given only an hour”s notice before the demolition of the clusters began as part of preparations.

Sri Ram, who was displaced from Prabhu Market near Lodhi Road, alleged “harassment” by the police and claimed he still has not got permission to start selling his wares as a street vendor there. “Nobody”s listening to us,” he claimed.

The 19th Commonwealth Games were held in the national capital from October 3 to 14.

 

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CVC asks ED to probe FEMA violations in CWG projects

Press Trust Of India
New Delhi, November 26, 2010

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The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), probing alleged financial bungling in the Commonwealth Games-related projects, has referred certain cases to the Enforcement Directorate to check whether there was violation of foreign exchange laws. Official sources said that projects like construction of Commonwealth Games Village near Akshardham temple and flyovers, hiring and procurement of medical and fitness equipment and conduct of outdoor publicity campaign by the Organising Committee may come under the ED scanner.

They said a decision to hand over cases to ED for a “logical conclusion” was taken recently during a meeting Central Vigilance Commissioner P J Thomas had with senior officials.

Sources said the Chief Technical Examination (CTE) wing of the Commission, which has scrutinised all the documents related to bidding and grant of tender worth crore of rupees to various firms, has found substantive evidence that these private companies might have routed money through illegal means and bypassing laws.

They said the Chief Vigilance Officers (CVOs) of government agencies like Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Public Works Department (PWD) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) have been specifically directed to pursue all matters related to violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) with the ED.

A CVC team has seized documents from the Games OC office here to avoid any tampering of evidence. “There has been some cases where the Commission has noticed alleged violations of forex laws.

We will be giving those cases to ED for interrogation and report,”a CVC official said requesting anonymity. Sources in the anti-corruption watchdog said that the officials working in its “special cell” – exclusively made to deal with cases of Games corruption – will meet ED officials early next month in this regard.

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SAD to launch mass campaign against scams involving UPA

Press Trust Of India / New Delhi/ Chandigarh November 19, 2010, 0:42 IST
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The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab today said it will launch a ‘mass awareness campaign’ to mobilise people against what the party termed as unprecedented scams involving the bigwigs of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre.

A resolution to this effect was passed at the party’s Core Committee meeting here, a SAD spokesman said here today.

Describing the 2-G spectrum scam allegedly involving the UPA big shots as “mother of all scams” the committee said its magnitude along with that of Commonwealth Games and Adarsh Housing Society scandals had shocked the world and lowered the country’s image abroad.

The movement would also aim to educate masses on the conspiracy of the rich corporate world to defame the pro-poor and social welfare policies of the Punjab government in order to perpetuate their exploitation of the poor, the spokesman said.

The Core Committee lashed out at the opponents of pro-poor policies of the Punjab government, especially those aimed at providing help and relief to the deprived sections of society through the desperately needed subsidies.

“Those opposing the subsidies are backed by the rich tycoons of the corporate world who wanted to exploit the poor masses and swell their coffers through unethical means. The party is proud of the SAD-BJP government’s clear and firm stance on subsidies,” said the resolution.

A resolution passed at two-and-half-hour meeting of the Core Committee declared that the party would “fully expose the Centre resorting to hypocritical means to confuse the people on the issue of debt-waiver to Punjab.”

“The Centre is still refusing to categorically state whether an offer to waive Rs 35000 crore out of the total debt was ever made to Punjab but was instead resorting diversionary replies,” the resolution said.

The committee fully endorsed the continuance of subsidies being given by the Punjab government to farmers, pensioners, dalits and other poor and deprived segments of society in rural and urban areas.

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BJP to intensify campaign for parliamentary probe

BS Reporter / New Delhi November 18, 2010, 0:50 IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will continue with its demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on the corruption in the telecom and other scams. It has now demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clear his stand on the issue.

Senior members of the party confirmed that they had not heard anything from the government on their demand for setting up JPC on corruption surrounding 2G spectrum allocation, Adarsh society scandal and Commonwealth Games scam.

BJP alleged that PM Manmohan Singh was guilty of a “conspiracy of silence” and he should at least make his stand clear on the floor of the house. The BJP also questioned the role of Congress Party and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, while attacking the government on issues of corruptions.

“We were expecting a reply from the government on our demand but we have not received any till now,” said a senior BJP leader.

Taking the attack on the government a little further, BJP said an investigation by parliamentarians would not only help in eradicating corruption but also reform the system.

“JPC is needed to eradicate corruption, better administration and also to reform the system. The government is so far stonewalling any investigation by parliamentarians on the issue. We want to know why telecom minister A Raja resigned. There are more people involved in the 2G spectrum allocation scam and not just Raja. A JPC probe is also needed for better understanding of legislatures,” said Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP spokesperson.

“The Congress Party and UPA leader Sonia Gandhi also have a lot to explain,” Sitharaman added.

Sitharaman also said it was not only the Opposition parties who were asking for a JPC on the issue of corruption surrounding 2G spectrum, Adarsh Society and corruption in the Commonwealth Games but for the first time the Supreme Court has also asked PM to clear his stand.

“If we do not demand for a JPC on these issues, then we would not be fulfilling our responsibility as an opposition party. The government has so far not taken us into confidence and hasn’t discussed any issues with the opposition parties,” added Sitharaman.

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Anti-Corruption Activists Call Shunglu Committee a Farce

From the Times of India:

Activists seek setting up of SIT on Games

TNN, Oct 30, 2010, 04.44am IST

NEW DELHI: Civil society activists under the banner of ” India against corruption” accused the Prime Minister of “misleading” the nation by setting up the Shunglu Committee to probe corruption charges in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games. Activists, led by Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, demanded formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT), and called the Shunglu committee a farce.

Claiming that the committee did not have powers to either summon or investigate corruption, Kejriwal said there was sufficient evidence to lodge an FIR.

“When agencies like the Central Vigilance Commission ( CVC) and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) find it difficult to get their orders implemented, how would the Shunglu Committee get its orders implemented?” he asked.

The activists urged concerned citizens to join them in filing an FIR at the Parliament Street police station on November 12 against corruption in the Commonwealth Games. Other activists, who are supporting this campaign, include Prashant Bhushan, Swami Ramdev, Madhu Trehan and S C Agrawal.

The Shunglu Committee was appointed by the PM to look into the allegations of corruption in the Commonwealth Games, which was held between October 3 and 14. It has been asked to submit its report within three months.

# # #

Copyright © 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.

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No Money for Mosquito Spraying after CWG

Funds go up in smoke, MCD gets Rs 35 crore for fogging

From the Times of India –TNN, Oct 26, 2010, 12.53am IST

NEW DELHI: If dengue and malaria have come back with a vengeance, you can blame the Commonwealth Games for it. Having ensured a relatively dengue-free Games — there was only one case from the Games Village — MCD, it seems now wants Delhiites to pay the price for it.

According to health minister Kiran Walia, the civic agency has told the government that after the intensive fogging in and around the Games Village before and during the Commonwealth Games, it has no resources left to do fogging for the rest of the year. There has been no fogging since the end of the Games. The situation has come to such a pass that in an emergency meeting on Monday, the state government had to sanction an additional Rs 35 crore for fogging purposes to the civic agency.

MCD originally had a budget of Rs 11 crore for fogging and later the Delhi government gave it an extra grant of Rs 22 crore for the purpose of intensifying the exercise around the Village and Games venues. This was in addition to the Rs 5 crore the MCD had from last year that was given to it for the Games. “I personally supervised fogging then so as to prevent any national embarrassment but now they have said that they have run out of kerosene, etc, and the money. That is a cause for great concern and I am trying to see if there can be some extra money sanctioned for this purpose,” health minister Kiran Walia said.

MCD had been doing fogging twice a day in the Games Village, she added. “We had covered a radius of 1-1.5km around the Village too so that there was no scope for breeding at all,” said the minister. Areas like Pandavnagar and Shakkarpur had seen the kind of presence of MCD fogging staff as it had never ever seen.

MCD sources say the “on-demand” fogging during the Games was a drain on resources but had been done because it was a “unique situation”. “But it is not possible to sustain that kind of tempo for that long a time without impacting our overall means. That is exactly what has happened now,” said a MCD official.

Finance minister A K Walia said, “I was told that the medicine that they are using now for fogging is three times more expensive than the earlier one. Moreover, the Games have been a drain, so we have sanctioned additional money and we have asked them to resume fogging as soon as possible.”

 

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“High Level Committee” to Investigate Commonwealth Games

Below is a press release from the Indian Government outlining the establishment of a “High Level Committee” to investigate issues relating to the Commonwealth Games.

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Press Information Bureau 
Government of India
Prime Minister’s Office

25-October-2010 19:48 IST

Terms of Reference of High Level Committee to Look into the Organisation and Conduct of the Commonwealth Games – 2010

Government has approved the constitution of a High Level Committee (HLC) headed by Shri V.K. Shunglu, the former Comptroller & Auditor General of India, to look into the organization and conduct of the Commonwealth Games – Delhi 2010 and also to draw lessons from it. The second member of the Committee will be Shri Shantanu Consul (IAS:KTK:74), Secretary, Department of Personnel & Training, upon his retirement on 31st October, 2010.

Government has also approved the terms of reference for the Committee as under:

i) The role and responsibilities of the signatories to the Host City Contract and the overall implications of the obligations entered into through the Host City Contract;

ii) The planning and execution of development projects related to the Games and contracts for service delivery, with reference to time, cost and quality;

iii) The issues relating to the effectiveness of the organizational structure and governance for organization, preparation and conduct of the Games at all levels, including the Organising Committee and its Key Functional Areas;

iv) Examination of weaknesses in management, alleged misappropriation, irregularities, wasteful expenditure and wrongdoing in the conduct of the Games, and, recommending action on the same;

v) The issues relating to financing the Games, including estimates of revenue and expenditure;

vi) The issues concerning coordination amongst various agencies involved in the development of infrastructure and conduct of the Games;

vii) The role of international/national advisors/consultants/officials of the Organising Committee in the conduct of the Games;

viii) The overall impact of the Games including legacy for city infrastructure, sports infrastructure and sports development;

ix) The lessons learnt for the future, on each of the above, including establishment of a mechanism for laying down timeframes and effective monitoring, creation of a legally sustainable framework for hosting similar international sporting events, appropriate financial management and internal audit, media interaction and communication;

x) Any other areas considered relevant by the Committee.

The HLC will submit its report within three months. It will decide its own procedures and mode of enquiry. All Ministries and Departments of the Central and State Governments, as well as agencies and organizations under their administrative control, have been directed to extend their full cooperation and assistance to the HLC in completing its assignment within this time. The Ministry of Sports will extend administrative and logistic support to the Committee. It will function from its office in Vigyan Bhawan.

The Comptroller & Auditor General of India (C&AG), Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and other agencies will independently carry out their audit and investigations, in accordance with their respective mandates. All complaints referred to various agencies will be looked into and action taken immediately by the agency concerned. The HLC will recommend action on any matter that comes to its notice involving alleged misappropriation, irregularities, wasteful expenditure or wrongdoing, and, they will take immediate action as warranted under the law.

The HLC will also consider any complaint from any member of the public, duly supported by documents, with respect to its remit i.e. organization and conduct of the Commonwealth Games – Delhi 2010. The HLC will inform the members of the public regarding its availability to receive such complaints, in due course.

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India begin probe into ‘corruption’ at Commonwealth Games

A group of Indian ministers is meeting later to begin investigating claims of corruption at the Commonwealth Games.

Led by Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, they will look into the awarding of contracts and how the work was supervised.

Meanwhile, India’s media reports the Central Vigilance Commission, a graft watchdog, is checking 22 Games-related works and purchases for irregularities.

The run-up to the event in Delhi was dogged by construction delays.

After the troubled start, Commonwealth Games head Mike Fennell praised the event as the competition drew to a close last week.

But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said an investigation was needed into an event which became a global story for all the wrong reasons.

The ministers will be helped by former Auditor General VK Shunglu as they scrutinise all aspects of the event’s organisation and planning.

Meanwhile, government agencies have been given until 31 October to submit replies to the Central Vigilance Commission’s investigation.

Investigators are due to visit the Games’ organising committee on Monday to audit its accounts.

On Sunday, the head of the committee, Suresh Kalmadi, lashed out at Delhi’s chief minister after she said the suspicion of corruption hung over his department.

“It is not right to deflect and point fingers at others when she must indulge in self-reflection on corruption in her own departments,” Mr Kalmadi said in a statement.

Before the Games began, he wrote a letter to MPs defending himself from allegations of corruption. He has not been charged with anything.

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Delhi Commonwealth Games contractors tax raids

More than 200 tax investigators in India have searched the offices of a number of contractors used in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games.

The raids in Delhi came as the main opposition party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), demanded a parliamentary investigation.

The Games, which ended last week in Delhi, were marred by spiralling costs and allegations of corruption.

The BJP says it has evidence of wrongdoing at government level.

‘Very big scam’

Income tax officials swooped on the offices of contract companies in and around Delhi on Tuesday, seizing documents relevant to any work associated with the Games.

Among the addresses raided was the residence of a businessman and prominent BJP activist, according to Indian media.

The BBC’s Chris Morris in Delhi says that now the Games are over, the political fight is beginning in earnest.

The Congress party-led government has already set up an inquiry, led by its urban development minister, into the event, promising anyone found guilty will be punished.

The BJP says millions of dollars were siphoned off from the Games budget, which ballooned to $6bn (£3.8bn), from an original estimate of $450m.

The opposition party alleges corruption in the building of sports facilities in particular.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari told reporters in Delhi that the Games had been a “very big scam”.

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Hindustan Times: Now Jats Threaten Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games starting Oct 3 now faces a new threat: Jats from Haryana. Upset that the Haryana government is not promising them quotas in jobs and educational institutions, a Jat leader Thursday threatened to block Delhi’s borders Oct 3 when the Games begin.  The Jats are seeking

reservation in government jobs and educational institutions and also a status as other backward class (OBC).

“So far we have not got any satisfactory reply from the Haryana government. We have decided to intensify our peaceful campaign. We will seal Delhi’s borders Oct 3,” Yash Pal Malik, president of the All India Jat Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti, said here.

Malik said they can also march towards Delhi.

On Sep 13 and 14, Hisar district in Haryana saw widespread violence by Jats over the same demand.

“We will not allow any commodity of daily use to reach Delhi. Only then the central government will start paying heed to our demands. From today, we have started ‘guerilla action’ under which we will suddenly stop any train and block any road without prior intimation,” stated Malik.

He added: “On Sep 27, when the Queen’s Baton Relay enters Haryana, we will show black flags. But we will make sure that nobody indulges in any violence.”

Original article: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Now-Jats-threaten-Commonwealth-Games/Article1-603822.aspx

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Dalits’ fund diverted for Commonwealth Games

From the Hindustan Times http://www.hindustantimes.com/SC-ST-funds-were-diverted/Article1-581958.aspx

The Delhi government has diverted million rupees meant for dalit welfare to fund preparations for the October Commonwealth Games, allege voluntary organizations.

Officials of Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) and National Campaign on Dalit and Human Rights (NCDHR) said the government diverted some 7,440 million rupees from the Special Component Plan (Scheduled Caste Sub Plan) to meet CWG-related expenses.

The allegation is based on the data provided by the Delhi government’s department for the welfare of SC/ST/OBC/Minorities in response to an Right to Information application, the Hindustan Times reported.

In the reply, details of the expenditure from the fund have been provided from the year 2006 to 2010 in a tabulated form.

“The diversion of funds is illegal. In the Planning Commission’s master guideline for the special component plan, the funds are non divertible and non lapsable,” said Miloon Kothari, executive director, HLRN.

Admitting that the government spent millions of rupees meant for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to fund preparations for the October Commonwealth Games, Delhi government officials said there was “nothing wrong in it”.

They said members of the reserved categories will eventually utilize the upcoming infrastructure projects and would benefit from them.

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Commonwealth Games Fail

Taken from: http://www.greenlightdhaba.org/2010/08/commonwealth-games-fail-is-corruption.html
Allegations of high level corruption and rumours of even darker things suggest there may be more at stake here than embarrassment. And pretending these problems don’t exist will only make them worse!

Mani Shankar Aiyar stirred up the pot last week when he told reporters, “Personally, I will be unhappy if the Commonwealth Games are successful.”   Suresh Kalmadi, the head of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee promptly labeled Aiyar “anti-national.”


Lost in the smoke of the Aiyar-Kalmadi tamasha was Aiyar’s central point: the Games were a mistake from the start, and it might take an obvious failure–one that could not be glossed over or denied– to prevent us from having to undergo a repeat of this fiasco in years to come.  Kalmadi has made no secret of his desire to see India get the Olympics some day, but he seemed to understand that this would be a bad week to highlight that ambition; instead, he responded to Aiyar’s attack by attempting to change the subject.



Usually, people use labels like “anit-national” in order to discredit and dehumanize their opponents. Labels like this are also commonly used to distract people from real and pressing problems on the ground; that’s why, during times of rapid change or uncertainty, ultra-nationalist and communal forces often do their worst work.

If one has been following Kalmadi over the past few months, as I have, one might assume he was just trying to divert attention from some of the many silly pronouncements he’s regularly taken to making.  Like how the Games village is “going to be the best in the world,” in spite of the fact that it is so far behind that the government has had to displace 3,000 Delhi University students in order to accommodate athletes and officials who would not otherwise have housing during the Games…  or how just a few months back he was still promising “The Games won’t cost the country a penny.”

As it turns out, Kalmadi was almost certainly (and rather desperately) trying to distract us from two much bigger stories.  First, preparations for the Games are much further behind schedule than we’ve been led to believe. Second, it appears that corruption–not the monsoon rains—is largely responsible for the sorry state of affairs we all find ourselves in.

CWG Fail?
A recent cover story in India Today suggests that in spite of all the brave talk we are hearing from officials, failure of the Games in obvious and embarrassing variety is indeed an option: major sports venues are incomplete, and some of the venues that have been completed are falling apart before they have even been used. Housing and food arrangements for delegates and athletes are still up in the air.  As disturbing as they are, plans to banish 75,000 beggars from Delhi’s streets are totally compatible with the ideology behind the drive to make Delhi a “World Class City.”  But evicting thousands of students in order to find housing for athletes?  That smells of desperation. We probably have no idea how bad things really are, because Chief Minister Dikshit recently ordered her ministers to keep their mouths shut as they go on inspections of Games facilities.  But it seems obvious that the overall situation is very bad indeed.

Of course if you think about it, this should come as no surprise.  Delhi is one big construction zone, and most of what we are seeing on major roads and markets is a far cry from “finishing work.” Connaught Place is still a mess. Officials conceded on Friday that much important work there, including the subways, will not be finished in time for the Games.  Crossing the outer circle will apparently continue to be a real adventure for months to come.


The failure at CP is particularly worrisome, because we can only assume that if the city cannot finish renovating this flagship market in time for the Games, it will fail elsewhere as well. My advice: officials should invest in rolls of bright blue plastic tarp right now; if all else fails, they can use that to cover last minute leaks in markets and Games facilities.

Now that failure seems a real possibility, much of middle and upper class Delhi seems almost titillated by the story. You hear this all over: “Oh, dear, how embarrassing it will be…nothing ever gets done right around here…such a mess…”
Corruption, Damn Corruption, and Commonwealth Games Contracts!
The problem, unfortunately, is that there is something much more serious going on than embarrassing incompetence—it’s called corruption—and it’s not just embarrassing, it’s criminal, it’s unsafe, and it strikes at the heart of this country’s democratic institutions.

In different ways, I’ve long argued that the Games are flawed because they have provided an excuse to divert money from things that all people need– like housing and clean  water—to unsustainable things that benefit only a few, like infrastructure for cars and airplanes.
Metaphorically, rhetorically and even morally speaking, one might call this theft.  But in reality, it’s not illegal, and it’s not even always been ill-intentioned—a lot of good people thought the Games were a good idea.
Rampant corruption, on the other hand, is a completely different matter.
It is becoming increasingly clear that these are the most expensive Commonwealth Games in
history not because we are building the highest quality stadiums.  And of course we can’t say the Games have cost so much because of the lavish accommodations or wages given to the workers labouring day and night on Games-related projects.

In fact, the government has known for a long time that its contractors have been violating wage, safety and labour standards, and what has it done?  Children of Games workers, when they haven’t been working, have been denied their rights as well–you don’t need a hyper link for this if you live in Delhi, it’s out in the open.  But here’s one anyway.  With all that money, why couldn’t the Government insist that contractors put up some mobile creche facilities for these kids?

It wasn’t just a reckless driver who was responsible for the death of a fourteen year old and three of his co-workers last week; it was also the contractors who hired him to work illegally in unsafe conditions– and the government which failed to seriously enforce their own labour standards.  And these workers are not alone; so far, dozens have died in Games-related projects. Violating labour laws is a way for contractors save money; it is a kind of corruption, a kind of theft.  And far too often, it has deadly consequences, which makes it a kind of homicide, if you think about it.

Of course, there are other kinds of corruption at work, as well.  Most importantly, there are the “irregularities” or “overpricing” in the contracts that have been awarded that we’ve all been hearing about.  The more you read about this interrelated set of scandals, the more you realize it is probably much bigger than any of us can imagine, and it really amounts to massive theft—if things turn out to be as bad as they currently appear to be, people should go to jail for this for many years.  NDTV took an in-depth look at one very small part of this problem and what they found some mind-boggling: many medical products have been bought by the government for many times their actual price. IBN reports that in addition to over charging, contractors have regularly saved money by cutting corners on construction materials–which, in addition to being dishonest, is unsafe.
Every day, there is a new revelation; it increasingly appears that the people awarding contracts did everything they could to rig the system so as to limit the number of companies qualified to bid—as a result, we’ve ended up with low quality work done at criminally high prices.  A lot of money is being made by a very few companies—and presumably by some of the people who have helped to “facilitate” this process.
Of course this could just be disorganized, random greed.  But rumours are beginning to circulate that there are darker games afoot, that you just have to follow the money trail to see that vast amounts of wealth are being concentrated in very few, very ambitious hands.  Some say new political dynasties are being built through this unsavory process and ask if it is possible for rulers who rise out of corruption to be anything but corrupt.
I don’t know about that—though it doesn’t seem hard to believe.  What I do know is that putting on a happy face and pretending there are no problems is the last thing we need to be doing.
Yes, corruption is embarrassing. But it’s not nearly as embarrassing—or poisonous—as letting corruption go unchecked. The press, along with honest officials and all people who care about democracy and justice need to make sure this is not swept under the rug.  This may be painful, but if we learn from our mistakes and move forward in an honest and fair way, we will have nothing at all to be ashamed of. The only shame here is in letting the bad guys profit from this mess!

There’s a lot to be done, even for those of us who aren’t reporters, officials or lawyers.  Why not write a letter to the editor of your newspaper or local government official; let them feel the heat. If you are a student, why not work to fight the evictions at Delhi University?  :

Also, go check out out ACORN International’s Commonwealth Games Campaign.  I’ve heard good things about this campaign.  This site tells you how to sign a petition and get involved.

*****
To read more about the CWG, go see our special page, here.





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Child Labor: See What OC is Doing: A Shame for Delhi Government

Thousands of crore may have been spent on setting up venues and the village for Commonwealth Games, but the men who actually lay the brick do not even get enough wages to afford one square meal for the family every day. A study by Child Relief and You (CRY) at the Siri Fort construction site has revealed 84% laborers are paid much less than the stipulated minimum wage of Rs 203 per day for unskilled workers.

According to CRY’s survey conducted over a period of two months at other sites like Dhyan Chand National Stadium, R K Khanna Stadium, Talkatora Stadium, JLN Stadium and Lodhi Road, children of theseconstruction workers have to live in inhuman conditions. They go without quality food, safe drinking water, healthcare and formal schooling, the report says.

‘‘We interviewed many construction workers at the Siri Fort construction site and found a majority of them were paid only about 60% of the stipulated amount, which is anyway too less. As a result, these workers can’t even provide adequate food to their children,’’ said Yogita Verma, director, CRY.

As per the findings, while unskilled workers were being paid Rs 85 to Rs 100 per day, skilled workers earned around Rs 120 every day. A 25-year-old worker at the Games Village site told CRY that a large chunk of his wages was taken away by the contractor.

‘‘Our entire family is cramped into a plastic tent. Whenever media persons come, the site supervisor bluffs them by saying that workers receive Rs 200 and masons get Rs 500. We only get a part of it, the rest goes to the contractor,’’ he claimed.

Verma said, ‘‘We are trying to build such a fantastic image of our country but the children of these workers do not even go to school. They just loiter around all day as these sites do not even have any facility for a crèche.’’ The report also refers to a PIL filed in the Delhi high court according to which nearly 4.15 lakh daily-wage workers were working on six venue clusters and five standalone venues for the Games in the city. CRY found children of many such workers had to drop out of school when the family migrated to the city from their place of residence.

Original article: http://2010commonwealthgamesindia.blogspot.com/2010/08/child-labor-see-what-oc-is-doing-shame.html

 

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