Commonwealth Games-like scam in Lusofonia Games: Congress seeks Central Bureau of Investigation probe

Panaji, July 20 : The Congress Sunday alleged a Delhi Commonwealth Games-style scam and demanded a CBI probe into corruption in the organisation of the Portuguese Commonwealth Games, also known as the Lusofonia Games, in Goa. The state hosted the Games in 2014.  Addressing a press conference here, Congress spokesman Durgadas Kamat said the pricing of the Games’ medals, grand opening and closing ceremonies, hiring of taxis, as well as laying out infrastructure for the third Lusfonia Games was excessive, and suggested that the scam was worth Rs.100 crore approximately.

“Three quotations from companies in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore for Games’ medals for Rs.500, Rs.400 and Rs.600 (respectively) were turned down and instead the government paid Rs.6,500 for each medal,” Kamat said.  The firm which won the medal tender was the India Government Mint in Alipore, West Bengal, run by the central government.  Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar has called the allegations “baseless” and made by a party which is frustrated being in Opposition.

“All procedures and protocols were followed by us during the tendering processes. The Congress is frustrated. They are not used to being in the Opposition and are making baseless charges,” he said.  Incidentally, defective medals had triggered controversy during the Games, with several winning athletes having to return their medals which had lost their lustre immediately after they were presented.
The 12-day Lusofonia Games featured countries and places like Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea- Bissau, Goa (India), Macau (China), Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and Sri Lanka.

Athletes competed in nine sporting disciplines — Athletics, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Football, Judo, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Volleyball and Wushu.  Goa was one of the earliest Portuguese colonies in Asia and was colonised in the early 1500s.  The Lusofonia Games 2014 were the third edition of the Portuguese Commonwealth Games. The first two were held in Macau (China) 2006 and in Lisbon in 2009.

Kamat also said that the government overspent on the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Lusofonia Games alleging that the Rs.22 crore spent on the two event nights was highly inflated and money had changed hands in the organization of the event.  ”We estimate that about Rs.7 crore was the maximum one could spend on the event and have the best of celebration,” Kamat said.  The allegations come a couple of days before the monsoon session of the Goa legislative assembly starts July 22.

Kamat also said information sourced via the Right To Information Act had revealed irregularities in the raising of infrastructure worth several hundred crore for the event like indoor and outdoor stadia and track and field gear.  ”We are going to the Central Bureau of Investigation with our complaint, because we have no faith in the state police,” Kamat said.