M’laya cong alleges corruption in power dept

Correspondent Shillong, Nov 18 | Publish Date: 11/18/2020 12:37:33 PM IST

The Opposition Congress in Meghalaya on Wednesday alleged  that “rampant corruption” in the State’s power department and pressed for an independent probe into it. Briefing reporters, Congress legislator Zenith Sangma said that there were “anomalies” in the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded smart meter system for consumers in Meghalaya, the Ganol Small Hydel Power Project, Saubhagya Scheme, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gramin Jyoti Yojana Phase I and II and waiver of electricity bills for industries. “In the tendering process for ADB-funded smart meter system, such conditions were put in place that only one bidder would qualify, adding that contractor would have to execute work worth Rs. 200 crores,” Sangma said. “But not surprisingly, the estimated cost was enhanced by 18 percent, which comes to Rs. 36 crore,” the Congress legislator said, and alleged that when there is no competition in the tendering process, where only one bidder of “their choice” could be qualified was a scam. “Tendering process should be done in fair manner where lots of companies, suppliers would be able to participate in a competitive manner, wherein the question of enhancing the original estimated cost Rs. 36 crore would not have been there, this money is drained out for the purpose to fulfil the greed of few,” he alleged. The Congress legislator also maintained that in the execution of the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gramin Jyoti Yojana phase I and II, the Letter of Association had been revised by increasing scope of work without approval of funding agency – The Rural Electrification Corporation.

He alleged that the government had agreed to increase around Rs. 30 crores for extra work. He said that since this is a Government of India scheme, 85 percent is funded by the Centre and 15 percent by the state government amounting to Rs. 4.5 crores. Zenith Sangma also said that in the Ganol Small Hydro Project, Rs 151 crore extra had been escalated through revision of estimates and that when asked, the government replied that the revision was done due to “geological surprise”. “Didn’t the MeECL do soil testing before DPR. They said they missed out. How is this possible? The level of work where geological surprise could occur is already crossed. The construction of tunnel is over, construction under surface is over, only super structure is left so how is there geological surprise?” Sangma asked. 

He also said that in the Saubhagya scheme tendering process, for construction of infrastructure two companies were awarded with work and for small work around 100 local contractors given work. Sangma alleged that for infrastructural component, work has been awarded to two big companies from outside the state at 51 percent above the scheduled rate and for 100 local contractors, work awarded was at par with schedule of rate of the same year for all components of work. “Rs. 180 crore extra amount is required,” Sangma said and also alleged that the onetime settlement scheme announced by the state government was for the benefit of the industries.

“The industries consume around 52 percent and if 30 percent bill is waived off (from them) the State will lose around Rs.700 crore,” Sangma said, even as he maintained that if waived off against domestic consumers, the Congress was not against the move as it would benefit the common consumers in the state.

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