The communication accessed through RTI by activist S C Agrawal shows that the PMO was warned about the rapidly rising costs in hosting the Commonwealth Games which in part was because of the unreasonably high salaries paid to consultants and Kalmadi’s penchant for filling the OC with ‘yes men’.
In a letter in October 2007, Aiyar sought a meeting with the PM complaining in his letter that money was being “squandered” in appointing people like Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Hooper as international consultant at a cost of Rs 1.50-2 crore. Aiyar said Hooper enjoyed first class monthly air passages, sometimes for his wife as well, between Delhi and London and was given a farmhouse in Delhi with “scores of air-conditioners”. He added, “Other international consultants have been appointed at a cost of $5,000 per day.”
In earlier letters, Aiyar had demanded withdrawing from the pre-bid race for the Asian Games 2014 after Kalmadi increased the budget by five times. The initial estimate given for New Delhi’s bid for the Asian Games was Rs 2 crore but was finally increased to Rs 10 crore. In a letter in March 2007, Aiyar said, “This is of a pattern with everything else connected with his (Kalmadi’s) involvement in mega sports events.”
Claiming that expenditure for the Commonwealth Games had gone up to Rs 20,000 crore, Aiyar in a communication in October 2007 said he was “alarmed at the profligacy of the chairman of the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games 2010” especially after learning that the Military Games held shortly before with three-quarters the number of athletes and officials coming for CWG was held with a budget of less than Rs 200 crore.
Others letters also spoke of the rapidly escalating costs. In March 2006, Aiyar said the gap in budget estimate of 2003 and spending was not only “gargantuan” but also growing. His letter said, “As against a figure of Rs 150 crore for physical infrastructure projected in 2003, current estimates have been ramped up to over Rs 5,000 crore. On the organisation of the Games, the 2003 expenditure projection of Rs 250 crore has already been ramped up to over Rs 900 crore.”
RTI records show that there was there was little response from the PM expect for acknowledgments of the letters shot off by Aiyar. As it turns out, Aiyar’s warnings did come true with both the CBI and Shunglu Committee investigations pointing to largescale irregularities in almost every functional area of the CWG.