As stadiums leak and athletes decry mismanagement, a burning question remains: Where did the Rs 750 crore go?
Panjim – The ongoing 37th National Games in Goa have been marred by a string of infrastructure failures and logistical missteps, casting a cloud of doubt over Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s leadership.
Despite a staggering estimated budget of Rs 750 crores, with the majority allocated for infrastructure development and renovation, the state government has fallen short in ensuring that the venues are adequately prepared to host this prestigious event. Notably, the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium, a key venue, exhibited leaks during a brief rain shower, and the Athletic stadium in Bambolim was swiftly waterlogged, exposing inadequate drainage facilities in a state accustomed to over 100 inches of rainfall annually.
Congress General Secretary Captain Viriato Fernandes, in a recent press conference, unveiled alleged instances of corruption within the National Games’ preparations. He insisted that an extensive investigation be initiated to expose what he termed a “massive scam” involving embezzlement of public funds. Instances such as the arch’s collapse at an indoor stadium, pillar failures, and roof leaks during rain served as a testament to the purported corruption surrounding the event.
These incidents not only tarnish the reputation of the state government but also pose severe safety risks to participating athletes and officials, shedding light on rampant corruption and mismanagement that have tainted the state’s administration under Chief Minister Sawant.
In addition to infrastructure woes, the Goa government has been criticized for poor logistical planning. More than ten new electric buses, procured for the G20 meetings in Goa, currently sit idle despite their potential use for athlete and official transportation during the National Games, underscoring a lack of foresight in government planning.
The National Games, a prominent sporting event drawing top athletes from across the nation, have been marred by the state government’s lack of readiness, resulting in a situation bordering on farcical. This has led to growing calls for Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s accountability and the embarrassment that this situation has brought upon the state.
Incompetence and Mismanagement
The recent infrastructure collapses and logistical fiascoes at the National Games add to a string of instances highlighting Chief Minister Sawant’s incompetence and mismanagement. Since taking office in 2019, Sawant has presided over a series of mishaps, including the 2021 collapse of the Kala Academy auditorium roof, resulting in casualties. Furthermore, his inability to control the mining industry has led to extensive environmental degradation across the state.
Sawant’s repeated failures have elicited calls for his resignation, even from within his own party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Yet, in the face of mounting public pressure, he has refused to step down.
Misappropriation of Funds
The staggering expenditure of Rs 750 crores for the National Games, primarily earmarked for infrastructure development and revamping, has raised serious concerns regarding possible misallocation of funds. Reports of corruption and irregularities in the construction process further intensify suspicions.
During a recent session in the Goa Legislative Assembly, heated debates ensued with the opposition accusing the government of orchestrating multi-crore scams under the guise of infrastructure projects for the 37th National Games. Such allegations included redundant works on previously completed infrastructure, like the Campal swimming pool, and exorbitant expenses for urgent repairs and maintenance.
MLA of Aldona, Advocate Carlos Ferreira, demanded a full account of the government’s expenditure and requisites for completing the infrastructure works. He also sought transparency regarding the funds allocated by the Government of India for hosting the National Games in Goa.
The Goa government has additionally come under scrutiny for misusing funds meant for vital projects, including road and bridge construction. A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) revealed misappropriation of over Rs 1,000 crores on various projects.
Despite denying all corruption allegations, Sawant has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for the financial mismanagement, further eroding public trust in his administration.
Athletes have also raised their voices in protest. A swimmer from Uttar Pradesh criticized the substandard quality of sportswear provided. A Table Tennis star and World Rank holder lamented the inadequate accommodations, with multiple athletes crammed into a single room, violating privacy and comfort.
As per the media, state sports minister denied all allegations made by congress leaders.
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