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Legal action on Games dues

Ranchi, March 2: The state government has decided to take legal action against two companies to recover advances given to them for the 34th National Games even as the Principal Accountant General’s (PAG) office began an audit of expenses incurred during the sports meet.

The two companies are New Delhi-based Surendra Tourist Transport Services and event management firm Wizcraft International Entertainment Ltd. While the National Games Organising Committee (NGOC) is supposed to get back Rs 2 crore from the Delhi company, Wizcraft owes it Rs 1.73 crore.

The contract for supplying vehicles for the Games — held this year from February 12 to February 26 — was bagged by Surendra Tourist Transport Services in 2008 while event management was assigned to Mumbai’s Wizcraft. However, the transport company did not respond when the NGOC floated a fresh tender in January after several postponements of the sporting extravaganza. On the other hand, the deal with Wizcraft fell through at the last minute.

Special secretary, sports department, N.M. Kulkarni told The Telegraph that a notice had been sent to the transport company on February 16 with two weeks’ time to respond. They are also in the process of sending a notice to Wizcraft. “Surendra Tourist Transport Services was given an advance of Rs 2 crore but it did not respond nor bothered to get in touch when we floated a fresh tender in January for the Games. As for Wizcraft, it did respond but the negotiations failed,” Kulkarni said.

Wizcraft was issued a mobilisation advance of Rs 2.59 crore against post-dated cheques. However, when the Games were rescheduled and NGOC cancelled the contract, it could encash the security deposit of only Rs 86.51 lakh. The remaining amount, however, could not be recovered as by that time, the validity of the post-dated cheques had lapsed. “So, a whopping Rs 1.73 crore is still lying with the company,” Kulkarni added.

The legal actions will include instituting a case under public demand recovery act, blacklisting the company and even lodging FIRs. “We are examining the course of action to be taken,” Kulkarni said.

A PAG report in 2009 had objected to awarding Games contracts to both companies.

Objections were raised on the ground that Surendra Tourist Transport Services was awarded the contract on a single tender basis without conducting a market survey on prevailing rates. Wizcraft bagged the deal at a higher rate than what was quoted by other companies.

Yesterday, the office of PAG began the audit of the expenditure incurred during the just-concluded Games. “We cannot delay it as we have asked the state government not to dissolve the NGOC after the Games,” said a senior audit official.

The NGOC officials, however, said they would face difficulty in handing over necessary papers for audit as payments had to be made to several vendors.

There is another problem as the files available with the NGOC are photocopies as several of them are lying with the state vigilance bureau, which is probing into the irregularities in purchase of sports equipment. Also, files related to the Nagarjuna Construction Company — the firm that had developed Khel Gaon — are with the CBI, which had conducted nationwide raids on the firm’s premises recently.

Again, the NGOC, which was running out of time, had roped in several PSUs as sponsors for which tenders could not have been floated in such short time. For example, the NTPC had sponsored flowers worth Rs 5 lakh for decorating Khel Gaon and the mega sports complex in Hotwar. Petroleum Dealers’ Association had paid for volleyball equipment worth Rs 4.50 lakh.

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