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Congress seeks CBI probe into ‘multi-crore scams’ in Meghalaya Power Department

Congress seeks CBI probe into ‘multi-crore scams’ in Meghalaya Power Department


He criticised the Conrad Sangma government in the state for its “adamant attitude” in addressing the issue

SHILLONG: The opposition Congress has demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged multi-crore scams in the Meghalaya Power Department. It alleged there have been many irregularities and anomalies in the implementation of various projects that include the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded smart metering project, Saubhagya Scheme and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), among others.

“There have been scam after scam in the Power Department. We demand an independent inquiry by no less than the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to ensure that those involved be punished under the law of the land,” Congress spokesperson Zenith Sangma told reporters here on Wednesday.

He criticised the Conrad Sangma government in the state for its “adamant attitude” in addressing the issue, which if rectified on time, could have saved “hundreds of crores of rupees” in the interest of the state.

“If those in power are accused of involvement in corrupt practices, it is their duty to order an independent inquiry to prove the opposition’s allegations wrong,” the Rangsakona MLA said.

The conditions in the tendering process for the smart metering project have been made in such a way to ensure only one bidder of their choice qualifies, he said.

“Only one bidder has qualified for the work initially estimated to cost around Rs 200 crore. Later, an additional 18 per cent of the estimated cost was added which amounts to Rs 36 crore.

“This draining of money is taking place due to lack of competition in the tendering process, which was done with predetermined and mala fide intention to ensure only one bidder gets qualified. This is a scam,” the Congress leader said.

If more firms were allowed to participate in the bidding process, the estimated cost would not have been hiked by Rs 36 crore, he said.

“This is happening at a time when the state is facing a huge financial crunch. The administration is unable to pay salaries to employees of different departments including MeECL (Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd) but money is getting drained out due to greed of a few,” Sangma said.

The letter of allotment (LOA) of phase I and II of the DDU-GKY was revised by increasing the scope of work by Rs 30 crore without approval from the funding agency — the Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd, he said.

“The Centre-state ratio in the expenditure of the project is 85:15. So, the Meghalaya government has to shell out an additional Rs 4.5 crore with the enhancement of the cost of the project by Rs 30 crore,” he said.

The estimated cost of the Ganol Small Hydro Power Project has been enhanced by Rs 151 crore. When the matter was raised during the Assembly’s autumn session, the government replied that it was due to some “geological surprise”, the Congress leader said.

“Did the MeECL not do soil testing before preparing the DPR? When this question was raised, the government said it was somehow missed. Is it possible?

“All work needed to be done underground has been completed. Only the superstructure is left. How can there be ‘geological surprises’ now? They are making different excuses to loot public money,” he said.

In the Saubhagya Scheme, two firms from Delhi and Mumbai have been awarded the major work at 51 per cent more than the schedule of rate (SOR), due to which an additional Rs 180 crore expenditure will have to be incurred, while 100 local companies have been given minor service connection work at SOR, Sangma said.

He also opposed the one-time settlement (OTS) given to various industries with regard to outstanding bills till March 31 this year.

“Around 50 per cent of the Rs 700 crore outstanding power bills in the state are of the industries. Why should they be excluded from paying the dues?” he said.

The state government, however, is yet to issue a reaction to the Congress demand for a CBI probe into the alleged scams.

Source: PTI
Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network