Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kalmadi denies corruption charges, takes on Indian High Comission in London

Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, has dragged the Indian High Commission in London into the Commonwealth Games corruption controversy by saying a verbal agreement involving payments of two lakh pounds to AM Films, a little known company in London, was decided after the High commission recommended the firm.

The UK government is probing irregularities in this business deal and has raised questions about why there was no written contract.

Speaking exclusively to NDTV's Barkha Dutt, Kalmadi said, "It was the Indian High Commission's letter that recommended Ashish Patel's firm to us and the total money paid to the firm is two lakh pounds."

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The Indian High Commission has denied Kamladi's saying they did not recommend AM films.

"This company AM films limited, was not on the panel of companies that the High Commission recommended by the High Commission. Raju Sebastian is an assistant in the High Commission of India, not in a position to make such a recommendation but for the HCI (High Commission of India) to make any such statement, we need to scrutinise the email held up by Suresh Kalmadi," the Indian High Commission said in a statement.

"We don't know the contents of the email, which email address it was sent to, whether it is genuine or not," the statement also read.

Earlier in the day, addressing a press conference on the Commonwealth corruption issue, Kalmadi rubbished claims that 25,000 pounds were being paid to the UK-based firm each month. The CWG boss also showed mediapersons a letter in which the firm had been recommended by the Indian High Commission in London.

Kalmadi said he was "pained by the baseless charges of corruption" and that "every paisa spent on the Commonwealth Games was accounted for."

At the centre of the corruption charges, a letter written by Deputy High Commissioner of India in London, Rajesh N Prasad, to the Sports Ministry about allegations of corruption made by the UK government, which says that 25,000 pounds sent from the CWG in India to a company, AM films, in UK, is unaccounted for.

When asked him why the CWG didn't enter in any contract with the firm, Kalmadi said, "There was no written contract with Patel's firm as the decision was taken at the last minute. We had to get logistics for London in a hurry, so there was no time for tender."

Mr Kalmadi, who maintains that the Games will be word class when they are held in New Delhi in weeks from now, also said that foreign nations are satisfied with the security preparations which have been made.


As corruption allegations mount against the organisers of the commonwealth games, Kalmadi says the Delhi government and the sports ministry have to answer for many of the allegations raised by the Central Vigilance Commission. "The report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on corruption charges has nothing to do with the Organising Panel. The Sports Ministry and the Delhi government have to answer the report."

CVC report has asked the CBI to register a corruption case against certain MCD officials in connection with irregularities in a tender issued for a Commonwealth Games project worth several crores.

The CVC has found serious discrepancies like award of works at higher rates to bidders, poor quality of construction and grant of work to ineligible agencies in different Games-related construction works being carried out by various departments in the capital.

As per the assessment report prepared by the CVC's Chief Technical Examination Wing, large-scale procedural violations, including corruption, have been noticed in 16 projects.

The cost of the projects has been estimated to be about Rs 2,000 crore.

Mr Kalmadi said today said, "The CVC report is on inferior quality of work at the venues. We are now in a time when we have to take over venues. So before that we will ask for all approvals and clearances."

Meanwhile, the opposition BJP says the 2010 corruption scam must be thoroughly probed. BJP General Secretary Vijay Goel said, "The BJP demands a judicial probe into the CWG scam."

With controversies dogging Commonwealth Games, a "worried" Congress today said any irregularity should be probed into and the organisers as well as others involved should ensure that the country's prestige does not suffer.

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Millionaire in beggars' home

He had stepped out of home to go to the bank. Instead, he landed in a home for beggars, thanks to the unnecessary and extra concern shown by a policeman.

Colaba resident Robert D'souza (62), who is visually challenged, was picked up by a police constable in the first week of this month and, much against D'souza's wishes, taken to the Beggars' Home in Chembur.

The beggars' home is, as its name suggests, a charitable home that takes cares of mendicants.

"That morning, I was passing by Cusrow Baug in Colaba, to go Central Bank's Fort branch. I am blind and also have a wound," said D'souza.
"With a walking stick for support, I was requesting passers-by to help me to the bus stop when a sturdy hand grabbed me by the arm and dragged into a waiting vehicle."

D'souza said no questions were asked and before he knew it he was taken to the home for beggars. "How right is it on the part of the police to do such a thing?" he asks staring into nothingness.

This is the second such case of a man who is not a beggar but is being forced to live in a beggars' home.

D'souza, a bachelor, has since been moved out of the home for beggars and has now been shifted to a home for dying destitute persons at Tagore Nagar in Vikhroli.

"Life at the beggars' home was a nightmare. We were treated worse than prisoners and the food served was not meant for human beings," D'souza told MiD DAY.

"We were served half-cooked rice, a watery dal and boiled brinjal for lunch and dinner."

This was in sharp contrast to the daily diet regimen that this former employee of a multinational firm was used to in the comforts of his home.

"My daily diet comprised a chocolate-flavoured milk drink, sweet corn soup and bread."

D'souza is annoyed at the constable who mistook him for a beggar and took him to the charity home.

Life was always a bed of roses for D'souza till his mother, Mariya, passed away 17 years ago.

"She used to let out part of their 1,200-sq-ft apartment to paying guests, some of who included foreigners," said D'souza who lost his father when he was very young. He has no siblings.

After his mother's death, life was never the same. "I had developed cataract in both eyes.

During the surgery, I developed complications to the retina, which caused complete loss of vision," said D'souza. "Soon after losing my vision, I also lost my job."

As if the cruel blow that fate dealt him were not enough, there was more in store. D'souza said he was cheated of his home by people who took advantage of his blindness.

"I wanted to dispose of my property in 1993. I was offered Rs 14 lakh for the apartment but I thought I could get more," recalled D'souza.

I was introduced to one Kulbhushan Malik who agreed to pay Rs 20 lakh besides free treatment at a hospital in Chennai to help restore my vision."

D'souza said that Malik made him sign some documents, only to learn later that he had been taken for a ride. "Not only did I lose the house, the money was not paid either."

"I should have struck the first deal and taken Rs 14 lakh, but greed got the better of me," D'souza said, a tinge of regret in his voice.

After lodging a police complaint against Malik, D'souza said the fraudster was arrested. The legal matter is, however, pending in court.

Besides, a locker which his mother operated at Bank of India's Fountain branch still lies untouched.

"My mother had kept gold ornaments, some foreign currency and rent receipts in the locker," he recalled. "Surely, the valuables might run into a few lakhs of rupees."

Safely ensconced at the Home for Dying Destitutes at Vikhroli, D'souza is scared to venture out alone on the streets.

"I do not want to be hauled by another policeman and taken to the beggars' home again. I'm a free human being and want to be like that," he said.

"FROM D'souza's speech and demeanour, I figured he is not a beggar. So, I contacted the destitute home myself," said Superintendent of Beggars' Home Gautam Arwel.

About the quality of food served at the home, he said, "We cook from what the government supplies to us and cannot do anything about it."

"I have no clue about this particular incident. I will have to enquire before making any comment," said Assistant Commissioner of Police (Colaba division) Iqbal Shaikh.

About the criteria they look for when they pick up a 'beggar', Shaikh said, "We take action only against those who are spotted begging, in keeping with the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act 1959.

"D'souza seems to be from a decent family and he told me all about his past," said Brother Peter Paul (53), who heads the destitute home in Vikhroli and has worked closely with Mother Teresa's Home in Kolkata. "He is free to stay with us for as long as he wants to."

Presently the home for destitute people houses over 30 in the hospital. We provide them basic needs and once they die, we conduct the funeral, as per their religion.

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While the recent controversy surrounding Rahul Mahajan and his wife Dimpy Ganguly is being settled down, Rahul's former girlfriend Payal Rohtagi has a

A Tata Motors team visited Dharwad district on Sunday to inspect the land offered by the Karnataka government for relocating the Nano small car project from Singur in West Bengal.

Ahead of the site visit, Tata Motors managing director G Ravi Kant and senior officials of the company met Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to discuss the slew of promises by the state government for setting up the Nano plant.

Tata Motors wants 1,000 acres of land for Nano as it is an integrated project. Karnataka has agreed to provide the land and other facilities.

The Tata group already has around 900 acres of land in Dharwad, 420 km north west of Bangalore. The group has been manufacturing earth-moving equipment since 1999 and is setting up a plant for luxury buses there.

Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani, who was also in Dharwad on Sunday to meet the Tata Motors team, has said the government has 500 acres with it. Finding another 500 acres in the area was not a problem, he added.

Tata group chairman Ratan Tata announced on Friday in Kolkata that the Nano plant in Singur was being shut in view of the continuing agitation against it over land acquisition.

Soon thereafter, Yeddyurappa telephoned Tata and invited him to Bangalore to take forward the state's offer of land and other facilities for relocating the plant in Dharwad.

Ravi Kant had met Yeddyurappa in Bangalore last month when the offer was reiterated.

Payal Rohtagi says Rahul Mahajan hit her Twice

While the recent controversy surrounding Rahul Mahajan and his wife Dimpy Ganguly is being settled down, Rahul's former girlfriend Payal Rohtagi has alleged that Rahul had beaten him twice in the past.

Rahul's relationship with his first wife Shweta Singh was broken because of domestic violence. Just two days ago, Dimpy had left Rahul's home, alleging domestic abuse and beating. She later returned home after Rahul Mahajan apologised.

According to Payal Rohtagi, Rahul not only hit him twice, but also banged her head against the door once. "Rahul completely loses his mind, when he is angry", she said.

Rahul Mahajan and Dimpy Ganguly got married on NDTV Imagine's "Rahul Dulhaniya Le Jayega". However, they find it difficult to handle the relationship now.

According to some latest reports, NDTV Imagine may decide to scrap the Swayambar Reality Show - Season 3 because of these controversy. During the first season on 'Rakhi Ka Swayamvar', Rakhi got engaged to Elesh Parujanwala, but the engagement was later broken. The Rakhi-Elesh and Rahul-Dimpy episode have forced the NDTV Imagine bosses to rethink on their strategy.

Life crippled as heavy downpour lashed capital

Life crippled as heavy downpour lashed the capital

Heavy downpour has lashed the capital and NCR on Saturday even as traffic was thrown out of gear due to severe water-logging in various parts of the city.

Various busy intersections like ITO, Minto Bridge, Nizamuddin Bridge, Dhaula Kuan, Ajadpur Sabji mandi, IIT, Hauz Khas and industrial areas like Okhla and Peeragarhi reported endless traffic snarls. This is despite the fact that today being a weekend many offices and educations institutions are closed.

Accordding to reports, vehicular movement came to a virtual halt as motorists were stuck in serpentine jams at almost all the arterial roads across the capital following rains that led to waterlogging and breakdown in traffic signals.

Massive traffic jams were reported from ITO, Dhaula Kuan, Ring Road, India Gate, South Extension, Moolchand, Ashram Chowk and several areas in East and North Delhi.

Traffic snarls took place at several places due to breakdown of vehicles on the roads also."It took me two hours to reach Saket from ITO. Usually it takes just 45 minutes to one hour" said Maanish, a businessman.

Several autos, heavy vehicles like trucks and cars were stranded on the roads due to heavy water-logging. "The travel time from AIIMS to Hauzkhas is just few minutes on the usual day but today it took over an hour to cover the distance," Sarita, a business executive with a private firm said.

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