Monday, February 22, 2010

Commonwealth Games - Kalmadi fires officer appointed by PMO

Commonwealth Games (CWG) organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi has terminated the services of a financial expert appointed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The move, according to a person familiar with the developments but who did not want to be identified, came after the officer, an appointment approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, declined to clear certain financial transactions which he believed were irregular.

Sanjeev Mittal, a 1984 Indian Defence Accounts Service official, was served the letter of termination by the CWG organizing committee on 19 February and will return to his parent cadre in the defence ministry.

The development comes at a time when serious concerns have been expressed about the ability of the government to meet the deadline for the successful conduct of the CWG from 3-14 October.

Mittal, along with two other officers, was appointed by the cabinet secretariat in November to help expedite and oversee the process to ensure the Games are held on schedule.

Mittal confirmed that he had received a letter from Kalmadi suggesting that he should return to his parent department. “I have no idea why this has happened,” Mittal told Mint.

Kalmadi did not respond to calls made to his cellphone.

The same unnamed person added that Kalmadi wrote to the defence secretary saying that Mittal’s services were “no longer required” by the committee and that he was “repatriated”. The person added that this was prompted after Mittal declined to approve certain financial transactions.

Mittal, however, said: “I have never refused (to approve anything) but I made some observations before approving certain decisions, because the system should be proper.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the issue.

Mittal was expected to head the financial department of the CWG organizing committee. He had been appointed along with two other serving bureaucrats—Jiji Thomson, from the agriculture ministry, and Sudhir Mittal, who was the Punjab government’s resident commissioner in New Delhi.

According to the same person, Mittal had been part of major committees that have handled high-profile defence purchases and was, hence, competent to take a call on the transactions in question.

Mint on 5 November reported the Prime Minister’s decision to get involved in the effort to get the Capital ready for the Games, seeking to avert potential embarrassment on account of shoddy preparations for the country’s biggest sporting event in 27 years.

The appointment of the officials as well as CWG organizing committee chief executive Jarnail Singh took place after the Prime Minister’s intervention.

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