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Kalmadi sacked from CWG Organising Committee, says ready for probe

Monday January 24, 2011 07:56:06 PM, IANS

New Delhi/Ranchi: The government Monday sacked Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) chairman Suresh Kalmadi and secretary-general Lalit Bhanot following concerns by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) that they were hindering the "impartial investigation" into the allegations of financial irregularities in holding the sporting event last year.

In Ranchi, a defiant Kalmadi said he is ready for any probe and would continue being the president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

Sports Minister Ajay Maken, who assumed charge of the ministry last week, said Jarnail Singh, CEO of the organising committee, would take charge of the OC.

"The government has decided today to remove Kalmadi ... and Bhanot ... with immediate effect," Maken said in a statement.

"The move comes in light of the ongoing investigation by the CBI over allegations of corruption and irregularities in organisation and conduct of the Commonwealth Games and the concerns expressed by the CBI and in the interest of impartial and unhindered investigations," he added.

"Kalmadi has been directed to hand over charge to Jarnail Singh, who is also a member of the executive board of the organising committee," he said.

The move comes three months after the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games, clouded by serious allegations of corruption. The long-awaited decision comes while the CBI is conducting an inquiry into the Games organisation.

"The CBI had asked the government to take action against him and CBI had said that they (Kalmadi and aides) are intimidating the witnesses and are interfering in the investigation. Following CBI's request of taking action against Suresh Kalmadi, we sought legal opinion and today in the morning we have got legal opinion from the attorney general and as soon as we got that we took this step," said Maken.

Kalmadi refused to comment on his sacking, but said he is cooperating with the investigating agencies.

"I have no idea about the removal. I am ready to face any probe and I am cooperating with the investigating agencies," said Kalmadi, who was here to take a stock of the 34th National Games scheduled from February 12.

Asked if he would continue as the IOA president, Kalmadi said: "The IOA is an autonomous body and I am not quitting as the president."

The CBI is probing irregularities in the award of contracts during the Queen's Baton Relay ceremony in London in October 2009 as also wrongdoing in awarding a contract of Rs.107 crore for procuring timing equipment for the athletics event of the Games. The CBI has already grilled and raided the properties of both Kalmadi and Bhanot.

Investigations are also being held into overlays contract, A.M. films deal and the purchase of the aerostat - one of the main attractions of the mega sporting event.

The CBI has so far filed three complaints of alleged irregularities in the CWG preparations. Two FIRs are about the contract to AM Films, a firm in London, for the Queen's Baton Relay function. The third is related to Rs.107 crore spent on overlays at the CWG Village and other Games venues.





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