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10-day ultimatum to sort out payment disputes

New Delhi: Taking a serious view of reports that Autralian firms were planning a lawsuit against the Commonwealth Games organisers for recovery of dues, the Sports Ministry on Thursday issued a 10-day ultimatum to government nominees in the Organising Commmittee to sort out payment issues.

New Sports Minister Ajay Maken has directed government nominees in the Organising Committee to "thoroughly verify" the unpaid dues and ensure that the payments are made within ten days.

"I have directed the government nominees in Commonwealth Games Organising Committee to thoroughly verify the unpaid dues and make all the legitimate payments within ten days. It is a very important issue", Maken told a press conference here shortly after taking independent charge of the Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry.

Four of Australia`s biggest event management firms plan to slap a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against Commonwealth Games organisers for the recovery of their dues.

Events organiser Ric Birch has commissioned law firm Slater and Gordon to draw up the multi-million dollar lawsuit that would involve at least four of Australia`s biggest event firms – including his firm Spectak Productions and fireworks group Howard & Sons – against the Delhi Games organisers.

Maken said the Commonwealth Games ended about three months back and he did not want problems to linger for so long.

"It has been three months that the Games are over and payments have not been done. I dont want the issue to linger on for ever. I dont want anyone to come and point fingers at us", he said.

"It is a very important issue and I want it to be resolved as quickly as possible. If there is more delay, more problems could crop up", he said.

Maken said the government officials in the OC will also see that dues to all the companies are paid. "It is not just the Australian companies, but for all. The emphasis is on thorough verification and legitimate payment".

The payment issue also figured prominently during External Affairs Minister S M Krishna`s bilateral meeting with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd, giving the visiting Indian leader some embarrassing moments.

Rudd raised the issue of non-payment of dues to Australian companies for Commonwealth Games-related work with Krishna, who is here on a three-day visit.

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