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Delhi Games Treasurer resigns

The treasurer of the troubled Delhi Commonwealth Games resigned Thursday, even as India's sports minister promised the event would be a success despite delays and allegations of corruption.

Anil Khanna, treasurer of the organising committee, stepped down amid allegations that favouritism had played a part in awarding a contract related to the Games' tennis venue to a company headed by his son. Khanna, who is also the secretary of the All India Tennis Association, insisted that he was resigning with "a clear conscience." An Indian anti-corruption body last week reported it had found a host of problems with construction work for the October 3-14 Games, including the use of poor-quality materials and dubious contracts.

Questions have also been raised about suspect sums being transferred from the organising committee to a British-based firm. The allegations have triggered calls for the embattled chairman of the organising committee, Suresh Kalmadi, to take moral responsibility and resign.

But the committee's spokesman, Lalit Bhanot, said the priority was to make sure the Games were a success, rather than penalise individuals.

"This is not a time to run. This is not a time to stop working," Bhanot told a news conference which Kalmadi had called but did not attend.

"We need to deliver a successful Games, which I assure you we will deliver," he said.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister M.S. Gill promised in parliament that all of the Games facilities would be ready by the end of August.

"Most of the venues have already hosted test events without glitches. I have had a look at the stadiums, they are ready. Just the finishing work remains to be done," Gill said.

The Indian capital has been racing against the clock to finish the stadiums and accompanying infrastructure projects. With less than two months to go, many parts of the city still resemble a construction site, and monsoon rains have hampered efforts to accelerate the work.

Gill also promised that all corruption allegations would be fully investigated.

"If officials are found to be corrupt, they will be removed. We will look into every single charge and the truth shall be brought before the nation," he said.

At the same time, Gill rejected opposition demands to appoint a supervisory group of ministers to oversee the work of all the various agencies involved in the Games organisation.

"It is too late for that. You cannot change your horses just before the war," he said. He also rejected an Indian Olympic Association proposal to bid for the 2019 Asian Games, saying it did not merit consideration. NEW DELHI, AFP

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