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(By Lamphrang Nongspung)
The Opposition Congress, on Wednesday, demanded a CBI probe into the alleged corruption, irregularities and anomalies in the Power Department.
“We would like the government to constitute an independent inquiry to probe into this matter. We would prefer if the CBI is assigned with the responsibility to carry out a detailed investigation into the alleged corruption charges,” Congress spokesperson, Zenith M. Sangma told reporters on Wednesday, adding that it was the job of the state government to institute an inquiry if there are any corruption charges.
“But right from day one, the incumbent government is shying away from its responsibility. As the opposition, we are raising issues on behalf of the people. It is the duty of the government to find out if the charges are true,” Sangma said.
When asked if the Congress would take up these corruption cases if they come back to power, Sangma said that if the Congress were to regain power, it would give justice to the people of the state.
“If they don’t, someone else will do (it) when the time comes. The people who are involved in this criminal conspiracy will have to be booked under the various provisions of the law of the land,” he said.
Questioning the tendering process of the smart meter project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Sangma said that the conditions in the tendering process have been made in such a way where only one bidder will be qualified to execute the work of the Rs. 200 crore project.
He added that the allotment of the work is 80 per cent above the estimated cost, which meant that an extra Rs 36 crore is being drained.
Pointing out that there was no competition in the tendering process, Sangma alleged that the government predetermined it to ensure that only a single bidder of their choice could qualify.
“It is unjustified that there was an enhancement of the total estimated cost by Rs. 36 crore, especially when the state (is) facing a huge financial crunch and not in a position to give the salaries in different sectors. This money is being drained out only to fulfil the greed of (a) few people,” Sangma said.
On the implementation of the Deen Dayal Upadhaya Grameen Jyoti Yojana Scheme phase one and phase two, Sangma said that the Letter of Allotment (LoA) was revised by increasing work and this was done without the approval of the Rural Electrification Corporation, which is the funding agency.
Pointing out that they have agreed to increase work for around 30 crore extra, Sangma said that the allotment of work was being enhanced without taking into account the matching of the fund in terms of contributions towards this project.
Sangma said that the state's share would come to around Rs 4.5 crore if 85 per cent of the funding would come from the Centre and another 15 per cent from the state government.
“This reflects that the people in power are not sparing to loot the people of the state,” he alleged.
Questioning the enhancement of the Ganol small hydropower project, he said they escalated the project cost by Rs. 151 crore with the revision of the estimate.
“This matter was taken up in the Public Accounts Committee and Sub Committee. The government had cited reasons that there was a revision of the estimates due to the geographical surprise. I am not sure what geographical surprise can be there,” Sangma said.
Pointing out that the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) would have already done the soil testing before making the Detailed Project Report (DPR), Sangma said that the state government claimed that they had missed out on the soil testing aspect.
According to him, the level of work completed whereby a "geographical surprise" could have occurred was already done since the construction of the tunnel and all the underground work was over. He added that the only thing which is left in the project is the construction of a superstructure.
“This is also a blatant attempt to loot public money,” he said.
Talking about the Saubhagya scheme, he said that the Power Department had allotted the work to two companies from outside the state where the work was awarded at 51 per cent higher rates than the Schedule of Rates (SoR).
“But the work allotted for the 100 local contractors for taking up the work under the Saubhagya scheme is at par with the SoR. The SoR would have been the same since the allotment of work for the local contractors and the two companies was given in the same year. We would like to question why two different yardsticks were adopted in the allotment of work,” he added.
(Edited by Gabriel G Momin)