‘Allow Independent Body to Investigate ₹100-crore Khuman Lampak Scam’
|A shot from the final match of the 60th CC Meet Football Tournament between NEROCA and Assam Regimental Centre, Shillong in December 2016 at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium|
An amount of ₹100 crore was sanctioned in 2013 for renovation work at the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex but four years later, the issue has been changed from renovation to corruption as the Government of Manipur has been urged to allow an independent body probe into what appears to be a scam
Imphal, 8 June (Sangai Express): Manipur is a sports powerhouse and it needs state-of-the-art infrastructure for sustenance and improvement. As in many other areas of ‘central’ public funding, sufficient money is made apparently available for sports development in the state and this is evident from the 13th Finance Commission (2010−15), from which a whopping ₹100 crore was sanctioned for development works at the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex.
Yet the ground situation—with all the signs of substandard, half-finished works and sheer negligence—mismatches terribly with available records until phase one of the project that was due by June 20, 2015. The existing condition has raised many doubts and complaints are pouring in from various corners, and the call for an independent body to probe into what appears to be a scam is getting louder.
A few anonymous officials of some state-level sports associations are drawing the attention of the State Government to bring in the CBI or an equally strong independent, ‘autonomous’ body and investigate into the financial irregularities. It looks, according to these officials, no less than a fraudulent game plan of a few individuals, who are ironically responsible for the growth and development of sports in Manipur. To take up legal actions, or in fact to punish the ‘responsible’ perpetrators, would be the right decision, they asserted.
Regarding the amount of ₹100 crore, the officials have cumulated the financial accounts from accurate departmental expenditure reports that were officially submitted apropos to concerned authorities and which were also published by the Sangai Express between 1 and10 September 2016. Based on this account, the fund was spent on renovation work in the Main Stadium, Hockey Stadium, Cycling Velodrome, Aquatic Sports Complex, Indoor Stadium, Shooting Range, internal roads and compound walls of the Stadium Main Complex.
Despite the public outcry back then, the matter has remained unresolved and the Government’s indecision will be detrimental to the sporting health of the state, the officials claimed. They added that the expenditure—irrespective of the present situation—included as well the fund for the much-needed electrification and construction of a ₹13-crore artificial football turf inside the Sports Complex.
In the 13th Finance Commission, ₹100 crore was cleared to keep up the Sports Complex with the times during the tenure of the previous chief minister who then also held the portfolio of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Manipur Development Society was entrusted the responsibility for the costly project—and work had started around late 2013, the officials recalled.
Imphal, 5 April 2013: Chief Minister Okram Ibobi stated that the state Government has received a total of ₹100 crore from the 13th Finance Commission for repairing the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex and for developing its additional infrastructure. Ibobi shared this information while inaugurating a multipurpose indoor hall at the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex here. [Source: Manipur Mail]
However, the officials maintain that the lack of commitment and disregard for quality control are reflecting on the existing condition and creating hindrances.
Consequently, these are also having an adverse effect on coaching facilities and players and teams preparing for sports championships ever since the renovation project started. The sheer apathy towards sports and sportspersons, according to the officials, is beyond any solution or sanity.
The demand for allowing an independent body to investigate into the issue is even more significant if the interest of any sports discipline or sports players is considered.
In the initial days of the project, former chief minister Okram Ibobi had acknowledged that the allocation of resource from the Centre owes largely to the contributions made by Manipuri sport stars. Incidentally, those were also the days when the former Government would claim that the work was ‘in full swing.’
Imphal, 13 August 2014: Speaking on the occasion (of felicitating 14 Manipuri players who won medals in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games), Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi said that the Government of India has awarded a sum of ₹100 crore for upgradation of Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in Imphal acknowledging the contributions made by the sportspersons of the State. [Source: Assam Tribune]
In June 2016, the officials had went to examine a part of the project that was submitted officially as completed with an expenditure of ₹1,56,89,830, but the quality of work—that includes, among others, those in constructing internal roads, parking, drainage system and footpath—was not only way below expectation but had also made no difference to the condition of roads, parking and drains that have been existing for the last decade or so.
The Khuman Lampak Sports Complex needs transparency and accountability to survive and thrive and live up to its name as a source of powerhouse. For the sake of sports, sports players and supporters, a probe by an independent body into the ‘scam’—particularly in the light of the disapproving condition at this centre for sports excellence in the heart of Imphal—will be in the interest of all the stakeholders and the sooner it is executed the better it will be for everybody, the officials concluded.
The Sangai Express
1. The dateline mentions the day of online posting
2. Intervention and follow-up from the state economists and administrators—who took part in the policy-making process of the 13th Finance Commission—in not only the Khuman Lampak issue but also for example in that of the Kangla Fort will be a welcome step