Friday, February 26, 2010

Rs 50 crore jolt

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee delivered a rude shock to Delhi government, hosting the Commonwealth Games in October this year.

Mukherjee cut the budgetary allocation for Commonwealth Games — the biggest non-cricket sporting event India will host since the 1982 Asian Games — by 34 per cent in the Budget 2010-11 from what he had allotted in Budget 2009. In last year’s outlay, the finance minister earmarked Rs 3,463 crore for the Games. This year the allocation is Rs 2,296.4 crore.

Of this amount, Delhi, which had made a demand for Rs 1,000 crore, was handed out just Rs 50 crore. In the 2009-2010 Budget, Delhi had got a whopping Rs 2,000 crore for completing the games related infrastructure projects. Till date, the Delhi government has spent Rs 7,000 crore in preparations for the mega sports event.

The biggest beneficiary this year is the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs, which has been allocated Rs 2,069.52 crore for renovation of stadiums, preparation of teams, upgradation/creation of venues and purchasing equipment and furnishings for stadiums. The Union Urban Development Ministry will get Rs 176.9 crore.

The Delhi government is disappointed with the meagre allocation of funds. “We will write to the Planning Commission for more funds. But we can’t let games preparations suffer,” Delhi Finance Minister Dr AK Walia said.

“The Rs 50-crore allocation means we will have to curtail funds from other sectors such as health and education and divert the money to complete games related projects. Cost overruns of almost all the projects related to the games have already put an enormous burden on our exchequer,” Walia added.

“Construction work on all the Games projects is already underway. We can’t stop midway because of fund crunch.”

Poor planning on the part of the implementing agencies has resulted in many Games projects overshooting the original budgetary estimates and causing delays. The Delhi government had cited paucity of funds for the delay in several infrastructure projects.

Union Sports Minister MS Gill, on the other hand, said, “I am very happy that the finance minister consistently supported us for the sports and Commonwealth Games. I am fully funded.”

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