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Games probe nails Prasar, DD chiefs

New Delhi, Feb. 1: A probe has indicted the suspended Prasar Bharati chief, B.S. Lalli, and Doordarshan director-general Aruna Sharma for allegedly favouring British firm SIS Live as host broadcaster for the Commonwealth Games and causing the government “a loss of at least Rs 135 crore”.

The V.K. Shunglu committee, set up by the Prime Minister on October 25 to investigate Games corruption, has recommended that Lalli and Sharma be booked under penal code sections and the Prevention of Corruption Act. It has asked the Centre to recover the “excess” sum paid to SIS Live.

Lalli, already suspended over alleged irregularities in Prasar, is a retired IAS officer and Sharma a serving one. A PMO statement said Manmohan Singh, to whom the panel handed its report yesterday, had taken a “serious view” of the matter. “Stern action is likely... on the basis of the cabinet secretary’s recommendations,” it said.

The probe report said SIS Live was given the Rs 246-crore contract after a single bid, with Prasar issuing the tender and awarding the contract the same day. It said Sharma and Lalli had engineered the elimination of other contenders, including the BBC which bid just Rs 52 crore.

The report has questioned the failure of the Group of Ministers on the Games to redress the situation, adding that the checks and balances in the government system that should prevent such abuse of power had failed.

It has alleged “a clear nexus between SIS Live, Zoom Communications and elements of (the) Prasar Bharati management” since the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune. Zoom was the Indian partner of SIS Live.

The committee will submit reports on other aspects of the organisation of the Games by March 31.

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