news Wednesday, April 08, 2015 - 05:30
Siddhartha Mishra | The News Minute | April 3, 2015 | 6:19 p.m. IST After images of Paralympic athletes struggling to cope with inadequate facilities in the Ghaziabad games across TV screens led to massive outrage, the Paralympic Committee of India appears to be headed for a similar fiasco with the upcoming Indian Open Para Games which are barely a month away. Internal correspondence of the PCI accessed by The News Minute suggests that lack of coordination between various members may have resulted in some of the problems that were highlighted during the 15th National Paralympics meet held in Uttar Pradesh in March. Several executive committee members of the PCI have alleged that they have been kept in the dark about the activities of the body by its President Rajesh Tomar. The News Minute has a copy of emails exchanged between members of the PCI and Tomar, in which some of them accused the latter of committing financial irregularities. Tomar has denied the allegations. Image Courtesy:www.facebook.com/NPCIndia In an email dated March 21, 2015, executive committee member Narayanan T claims that he was unaware the upcoming Paralympic games in New Delhi. He says that “the last (EC) meeting was held on 30th June 2014 and also I came to know that PCI is organizing 1st Indian Open Para Games at New Delhi from 2nd to 9th May 2015. It was never discussed in any of the Executive Committee Meeting so far”. Other members in the body have also raised similar concerns.  When contacted, Narayanan said: “What he’s (Tomar) doing, only he knows”. In the same email, Narayanan also says “In future if any financial irregularities found or any administrative lapse president will be the held responsible”. When asked to elaborate on the nature of the alleged irregularities, Narayanan only said: “No executive meeting has been held in the past year so we do not know for sure”. Two other EC members also alleged financial mismanagement in their mails but did not elaborate further. Other members mentioned the negative publicity surrounding the PCI after the Ghaziabad meet. Tomar, who assumed office in January 2014, refutes the allegations. He has in turn alleged that a small coterie of people was attempting to malign him as he had ordered the suspension of five members of the PCI, including Narayanan. “I have carried the work of the organization forward, and while some may not agree with my style of functioning, it is important that we think about the athletes and the sport,” he said. Image Courtesy:www.facebook.com/NPCIndia Sources in the PCI claim that Tomar was not responsible for the alleged financial irregularities. In an email exchange sent on January 2, Tomar asks the General Secretary of the body for the convening of an Annual General Body Meeting, saying “it is mandatory to pass the accounts of the previous financial years, hence, the auditor accounts should be ready for presenting in EC and AGM both”. Other emails, which include correspondence from the Ministry of Youth and Child affairs detail outstanding bills of the PCI since 2011, before Tomar took charge and which he had dispatched to the members concerned and the treasure for clearance. The National meet organized in Ghaziabad also brought the strains within the organization to light. Members of the PCI have been accused of not assuming responsibility for the event which was held between March 20 and 22. Saheb Hossain, a participant, complained that there were several lacunae in the arrangements. He said that athletes were served the same food thrice a day. Hossain, who is visually impaired, also said that he was not provided with a guide and added: “I didn’t like their behavior or disposition towards us either”. The 24-year-old, who won three gold medals at the 100, 200 and 400 metre at the meet, says that there weren’t any medical facilities available either. “I had bouts of diarrhoea on the night before my events, but there were no medicines available,” he adds. The absence of ramps, meant that those using wheelchairs were put to great discomfort when using the toilets, he said. However, Kavinder Chaudhary, President of the Uttar Pradesh unit of the PCI and also one of the organizers admitted that arrangements were not up to the mark but added: “We’d still give ourselves 70 out of 100.” “No one was injured, the media blew it out of proportion,” he said, adding that none of the athletes had complained and accused the media of blowing it out of proportion. Image Courtesy:www.facebook.com/NPCIndia He also claimed that everyone benefited from the event and revenue worth Rs 4-5 crore had been generated. Chaudhary had emailed Tomar complaining about the lack of help from the central body in organizing the event. He said that 595 athletes and 114 officials had been expected at the meet, but instead, 950 athletes and 250 officials had finally participated. “We didn’t have any experts or equipment to conduct the event, there was no support by you as a leader or PCI”, Chaudhary said in the email dated March 26. Correspondence accessed by The News Minute, however, shows that Tomar had made an attempt to help in organizing the event. On March 2, he had written to the General Secretary informing him that the CBI in Ghaziabad had permitted the use of its facilities. A meeting of the body is scheduled to take place in Bengaluru on April 4.

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