Meghalaya | Congress alleges irregularities in Saubhagya scheme implementation
From Our Correspondent | SHILLONG, December 3, 2018
The Opposition Congress has questioned the tendering process for the Saubhyya scheme in the state, alleging irregularities in its implementation.
"The tendering excercise was mired with controversy since day one, with allegations of complete deviation from normal transparent bidding process which reflects predetermined malafide intention for favouritism and prefixing regularly cropping up in the newspaper," Congress Legislature Party (CLP) spokesperson, Himalaya Shangpliang stated in a statement issued here on Sunday.
According to Shangpliang, the terms of the tender were so high that none of the existing contractors and no contractors from Meghalaya even qualify to place a bid- and the time given for bidding for this immensely important project was 8 days.
"Though the Government later extended the deadline, the terms of the tender itself raised many eyebrows, as they seemed to be crafted to exclude all but a few favored contractors whose names were leaked in newspaper reports. As writ petitions were filed in the Meghalaya High Court by agitated contractors, the State continued to insist that the terms were necessary for meeting the deadline of completing the project, despite having itself delayed even issuing the tender by almost an year. However, the Court ordered the entire tender process to be stayed, considering the serious allegations raised," the CLP spokesperon said.
Shangpliang said: "What is truly astounding however is that ultimately the State revealed before the High Court that only four eligible bids were received by it, and the certain contractor about which news reports had been circulating as being the pre-selected contractor for whom the tender has been designed, was also one of the bidders. In the writ petition which demanded quashing of the tender and investigation into the improper practices behind issuance of the tender, the State then shockingly filed a request before the Court to allow it to withdraw and cancel the tender,".
He further said that what was more shocking was that on the day that the Court was to consider this request, the petitioner in the writ petition mysteriously and for reasons best known to them, withdrew the writ petition, allowing the government to escape cancelling the tender.
"Whereas no reasons for withdrawal of the petition were given, it is not difficult to understand there might be external factors or pressure behind this sudden withdrawal." the CLP spokesperson said adding, "The strange story does not end even here. Overnight, the Governor of Meghalaya issued a notification dated 28.11.2018 releasing Mr. P.S. Thangkhiew, Additional Chief Secretary and Chairman of the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd., from his office as Chairman,".
He added that this development indicates the need for proper and independent investigation to verify the criminal intent of the political executive of the State Government to misuse the government schemes to satisfy their greed at the cost of the people and the state.
It may be mentioned that the Saubhagya guidelines issued by the Central Government had given a deadline of December 31, 2017 for projects and the first deadline for completion of the projects is December 31, 2018. However, the state of Meghalaya has issued a tender for the project only on September 26, 2018.