Qaiser Mohammad Ali
In a scathing report, which might prove to be a catalyst for change at the DDCA, a fuming retired judge Mukhul Mudgal has blasted DDCA office-bearers for gross mismanagement, inefficiency, neglect, and greed before and during the India-South Africa Test played in Delhi last month.
Mudgal, a former chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court who was appointed by the Delhi High Court to conduct the match due to an unprecedented crisis in the DDCA management, has unambiguously hinted at attempts made by officials to manipulate the tendering process, which he has termed ‘faulty’ in his report.
The anger and annoyance of Mudgal at the state of affairs at the DDCA is virtually dripping in his 29-page report, which he submitted with the Delhi High Court on Monday. His fury could easily be seen in the fact that he has devoted more than 61 per cent of his report (3,922 words out of 6,416) on a chapter he has titled ‘Deficiencies found in the preparations of the 4th Test match and functioning of DDCA’ (read this entire chapter below).
Mudgal has specifically pointed out the departments that were highly inefficient before and during the match. Without mentioning the word ‘sabotage’, he goes to illustrate attempts by certain section in-charges for the match that would made the five-day Test a non-starter.
JantaKaReporter.com had reported one such attempt to sabotage the Test on 21 December (Click to read the story: EXCLUSIVE: Extent DDCA officials went to defame Delhi & BCCI before India-SA Test).
Kirti Azad had also written to Mudgal before the Test began that feared sabotage by people (Kirti Azad tells Mudgal he fears sabotage of Kotla Test).
Some problems, like pest-infested rooms in which broadcaster’s expensive and sensitive equipment was kept, were never addressed satisfactorily during the five days of the match.
The biggest threat to the fourth match came when the list of requirements of the broadcaster, that were sent by the BCCI to the DDCA well in advance, was not shown to Mudgal.
From mismanagement by the media in-charge to the ticket vendor, a disappointed Mudgal has spared no one in his 29-page hard-hitting report.
The report also says that the DDCA had 12 committees for the match, but Mudgal says that almost all officials were nowhere to be seen and no formal meeting was held with him.
“It is pertinent to mention that even after the committees were formed, no formal meeting was arranged with the said committees so as to enable Justice Mudgal to give directions to the committees and hold them accountable,” he wrote about this issue.
While other members of the committees played truant, Mudgal minces no words when he writes that the “most active committee” was Ticket Complimentary Committee.
“This committee wanted all the Executive Committee members to have 5 accreditation passes each having access to all gates and stands. It was conveyed that this is due to complimentary meals which can be availed of by such card holders,” he wrote.
Mudgal also pointed out over priced tickets being sold by Embassy Restaurant personnel. “It was revealed that the personnel of the vendor, posted at the restaurant were engaging in such a practice,” he wrote.
Non-payment of bills of vendors from previous tenders made vendors for the India-South Africa Test sceptical of getting their payment, said the former judge.
“It was noticed from the report of internal auditors that bills worth Rs.5.56 crores were lying pending with accounts department which have not been approved by the management,” wrote Mudgal, who has since been appointed to oversee all matches to be played at the Kotla, including the ICC World Twenty20, till 31 March.
It will be interesting what action the Delhi High Court takes on the basis of Mudgal’s report.
Here is the full text of chapter on deficiencies appearing in the Mudgal report:
DEFICIENCIES FOUND IN THE PREPARATIONS OF THE 4TH TEST MATCH AND FUNCTIONING OF DDCA:
While finalising the Tenders and scrutiny of financial proposals, following deficiencies were noticed –
(1) Tendering system was not transparent in the past – For the previous matches, no records were available to indicate how quotations were invited, how the vendors to whom work was allotted were selected, how the competitiveness of the rates was ascertained. There are no minutes, on record, of the Tender Committee or Committees set up for different tasks. There were no agreements with the selected vendors in the past available for perusal. When the presence of the Accounts Department was sought by the Tendering Committee, V K Bajaj & Co, the Chartered Accountant on the payroll of DDCA was not sent but only Mr. Pritam Panwar who did not represent the Chartered Accountant firm was sent.
(2) Poor Record keeping – As mentioned above, the records relating to contracts/work orders for the earlier matches are not available. There are no minutes of the meetings of the Committees awarding work. Absence of records hamper transparency.
(3) Delay in payment of bills – Many vendors complained that their bills for earlier matches organised during the last 2-3 years were pending payment. This results in a large number of vendors not bidding and others quoting higher rates to cover the risk of huge delays in getting payment. It was noticed from the report of Internal Auditors that bills worth Rs.5.56 crores were lying pending with Accounts Department which have not been approved by the management. These relate to the financial years 2014-15 (Rs. 3.79 crores) and 2012-13/2013-14 (Rs. 1.77 crores). It is a highly undesirable situation. The Balance Sheet for the year 2014-15 is yet to be finalised. It is not clear whether these outstanding bills are being shown as a liability in the Annual Accounts because these bills have not been approved by the management. For the current Test Match, the vendors were assured that payment will be released within 15 working days. Because of this assurance, the tender committee could get further discounts/reduction in prices from the lowest tenderers.
(4) Allotment of Corporate boxes and naming of the Pavilions and Stands – DDCA had long term agreements with corporate houses for corporate boxes allotted to them, which gave substantive revenue every year. These agreements have expired and need to be renewed or fresh proposals be invited from corporates for future matches. For this match, no quotations could be received for naming of the Pavilions and Stands because of shortage of time. Timely action needs to be taken in this regard for future matches otherwise it may lead to loss of revenue.
(5) Finance/Accounts Wing – is also involved in preparation of budgets, finalisation of annual accounts, giving advice on financial matters. Internal Audit in its last report has pointed out shortcomings/financial irregularities. No tangible action appears to have been taken by the Management and Accounts Wing on issues raised, which is a matter of concern. Unless corrective action is taken, these shortcomings will continue.
(6) Defunct sub-committees – It is important to bring on record that the sub-committees formed after much deliberation by the DDCA officials, were mostly found to be non-functional. A separate Committee was formed for managing the Stand where the 8250 School Children were to be seated. However, not even a single day of the match were all the members of the said committee found to be present supervising the stand where the children were to be seated. After much persuasion, a few members did visit the stand however one particular DDCA official even after being personally told to be present in the stands was not found to be there.
The members of Hospitality Committee were never to be found supervising any of the vendors coming under their head. Vendors like housekeeping and catering faced a lot of trouble due to non-presence of the sub-committee members to resolve the teething issues which arose during the Test match.
The Legal Committee formed on 28.11.2015 was formed at such a belated stage that all most all the legal work such as drafting of tenders and contracts had been already done by the associates engaged by Justice Mudgal. Even after being asked several times as to who would be the person assigned from DDCA for drafting work, no response was received even though we were later informed that there are few lawyers on the panel of DDCA.
The Committee found to be most active since the day of formation was Ticket Complimentary Committee. This Committee wanted all the Executive Committee members to have 5 accreditation passes each having access to all gates and stands. It was conveyed that this is due to complimentary meals which can be availed of by such card holders. It was decided by Justice Mudgal that only one accreditation pass having access to all gates is to be issued to each executive member. This ensured that persons without any duty or function being assigned did not enter the restricted areas.
(7) Ticketing – The tickets for the Test match between India vs South Africa from 3 to 7 December, 2015, were to be sold through the ticketing agency Ticket genie. It was informed that this agency has been finalised by DDCA prior to the tendering process being undertaken, this was recorded in our Minutes of the Meeting dated 21.11.2015 as an observation only.
A number of issues were noted pertaining to ticketing:
- a) The vendor, without prior intimation had blocked certain tickets. This led to the online platform showing tickets as sold out or not available for particular stands;
- b) That the owners of the Embassy Restaurant had graciously offered a space in their restaurant for the sale of match tickets. However, a complaint was received from a person who had gone to purchase a ticket from the Embassy Restaurant that the tickets were being sold over the listed price of the ticket. On a prima facie enquiry, it was revealed that the personnel of the vendor, posted at the restaurant were engaging in such a practice. On this incident, being brought to the notice of Mr. Sujoy, representative of the vendor, the issue was addressed;
- c) The vendor was aware that the ticket kiosk at Bal Bhawan would attract a huge demand. Consequently on Day 1 onwards, due to security issues, the police did not allow the sale of tickets from this centre. Subsequently through communication with the police, necessary consent was obtained to operate this centre. Despite the fact that a huge demand for ticket existed, the vendor did not place adequate personnel, at the venue to cater to the demand. This led to a ruckus and the ticket sale venue at Bal Bhawan, being closed a number of times. It is only during the last 2 days of the Test match, that the vendor placed adequate personnel at this venue;
- d) It was also noticed that the vendor personnel selling the tickets from a booth near Ferozshah Kotla (prior to the start of the match), did not have adequate bags to safely store the cash received from the patrons. It was noticed that the vendor personnel, were keeping cash in their pockets, which posed a risk to them;
- e) It was noticed that the vendor was ill-equipped and short staffed, even a day prior to the start of the match on 3 December, 2015. Adequate personnel of the vendor were not available to affix the stickers for the seat ticket and tear a counterfoil (required for the purposes of Entertainment Tax compliance). This led to a delay in tickets reaching the venue of sale and a potential loss in revenue.
(8) Broadcasting – In the first meeting held at the Ferozshah Kotla on [21.11.2015] an effort was made to assess the works to be undertaken. A request was made to supply the documents pertaining to operational requirements and other guidelines that the BCCI may have issued/sent to DDCA. These documents were never provided to us. As a tendering process was to be undertaken in absence of the BCCI’s operational requirements and guidelines, a clause was inserted in all tender advertisement and subsequent Agreements that the services/requirements would be as per the BCCI’s guidelines. This was done with the view to ensure that once the tenders were floated and finalised by the DDCA’s tender committee, the agreements would be drafted highlighting in detail the requirements laid down by BCCI and DDCA. However, detailed requirements pertaining to the above were never received and agreements were made with a stipulation that BCCI guidelines will have to be complied with by the vendor.
The following issues arose pertaining to broadcasting:
- a) The room where the broadcasters placed their equipment required two 15 tons air-conditioners. This requirement was neither communicated to the Tender Committee nor the vendor (in this case the tent supplier). This led to a situation, where two days prior to the match, when the broadcasters’ equipment had arrived at the venue, the tent provider was requested to install the air-conditioning on an urgent basis. This led to avoidable delays, which could have been avoided if the same was communicated earlier. In particular the omission by the media in-charge to provide this information and undertake the appropriate measures, needs to be highlighted;
- b) The broadcasters also complained that the room allotted to them was infested by pests and that appropriate measures should have been taken prior to the match, to eliminate such infestation. This issue was neither brought to our notice nor was appropriately addressed till the end;
- c) The broadcasters had requested for high speed internet lines, in their broadcasting room. This request formed a part of the BCCI’s operational guidelines. It was noticed that even two days prior to the match, these lines had not been installed. While the media in-charge provided assurances, on a direct communication with the service provider which had been awarded the contract (Mr. Kapoor from MTNL), it was revealed that Mr. Kapoor was largely unaware of the requirements. On the basis of intervention of personnel from the broadcasters and regular follow-up from their end in particular, Mr. Soni (liaison officer attached with the broadcasters) that the internet connectivity was secured prior to the match;
- d) The broadcasters had requested that certain glass panels, in the Old Club House needed to be removed for the placement of cameras. This request was addressed in time and appropriate measures were taken.
(9) Media – The Media had highlighted a number of issues from their past experiences from the previous matches held at Ferozshah Kotla. In particular, the media had expressed their concern about the presence of unauthorised non-media personnel in the media box availing of the free catering for the media and disturbing their operation. This may be one of the reasons why the five cards each for all access areas were sought as this also permitted having complimentary meals provided to the media. Appropriate instructions to address this issue were given and it was noticed that the non-media persons were largely absent from the press box. Internet connectivity was required at the press box. It was informed that as Tata Teleservices had already laid down data cable lines, in the press box, they would be the appropriate vendor to provide internet connectivity. Even though the contract was awarded to Tata Teleservices, it was noticed that the internet connectivity in the press box was not up to the mark. It must be noted that the necessary steps, prior or during the match were not undertaken by the media in-charge to ensure internet connectivity nor did the service provider dealt with this properly.
(10) Permissions – The majority of the office bearers of DDCA were of not much assistance for seeking permissions from various departments. The status of the permissions was unknown to most of the office bearers of DDCA.
(11) Duties assigned by DDCA during the match – While assigning the duties no transparency was maintained and the duties were fixed without any information. It was also found that the initial bills submitted for the said duties were on the higher side. Upon a query raised by the auditor inquiring the basis of fixation of remuneration of the said duties the bills were subsequently brought down considerably by DDCA office-bearers.