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TURA | June 13, 2019:
The Block Development Officer (BDO) of Samanda, East Garo Hills (EGH), Albert Momin has come under fire after allegations of nepotism were raised against him by various registered firms of East Garo Hills district of Meghalaya.
It was alleged that the supply of arecanut saplings were being given out of turn without including the firms registered for supply.
The BDO in question, however, refuted the allegations stating that some miscommunication could be the reason for the allegation itself.
The heads of the various state registered firms (for supply of saplings) further stated that the beneficiaries of the largesse of the BDO happened to be another firm registered in the name of a government officer's wife (from the horticulture department in EGH) as well as a relative of the BDO himself.
According to the complainants, a total of 16 firms have been approved by the state government for supply of horticulture saplings to various Blocks in EGH. However to their surprise, only one of them (Chitmang Enterprise) was approached for supply. Furthermore, another 27 more firms were added though till date ambiguity prevails on who has been given the contract for supply.
"The officers of the Block are not even aware of the supply as it is only the BDO who is privy to what is happening. Furthermore, even the DRDA has confirmed that no new suppliers have been added to the list. So who are these 27 other suppliers," said one of the registered suppliers.
The supply, according to the complainants, is being done forcefully with the BDO along with Chitmang Enterprise taking the saplings to villagers and telling them that they need to take it. The village of Nengkhra Awe itself has been given 90,000 saplings till date with another estimated 4-5 lakh being given to other places in the Block.
The officer in question, however, stated that none of the registered firms approached them for supply other that Chitmang and as such some of the orders were placed with them. "However none of the relatives have been benefited through any order and that can be confirmed with the office. Also we are encouraging various Self Help Groups (SHGs) and as such some orders for supply has been given to them," said Momin.
He further added that the onus of whose saplings to be taken also depended on villagers. "There is no question of forcing them to take anything. They are the ones who choose the best for themselves. We help facilitate the process," added the BDO.
The complainants also alleged that the saplings being supplied were being brought from Assam, something which the State Horticulture has abjectly said no to due to the plants being diseased. Transport for the saplings is allegedly being paid by the BDO himself, Rs 5500 per trip from his quarter. Supply of saplings began about 3-4 weeks ago with a total of at least 5-6 vehicles bringing the saplings from Chondonpara in SWGH.
This, however, was also refuted by the BDO who said it was one instance when money was given and that too because the supplier was out of town and had kept the money with one of the people in his quarter in Williamnagar.
Furthermore, the suppliers pointed out that Nokmechik Industry allegedly belongs to one of the relatives of the BDO and has been the major beneficiary of the schemes of the BDO.
"No paperwork has been filled up in the Block office and the entire supply is only being run on understanding. They plan to do the paperwork later," added the complainants.
The BDO, however, denied the allegations adding that no orders at all were given to the above mentioned firm.
"It can be my relative's firm but they have not benefited from any orders from me," he clarified.
Interestingly just last year, 2018-2019, Nokmechik Industry allegedly got a huge contract for supply of arecanut, oranges and black pepper saplings while Momin was the BDO of Betasing in South West Garo Hills.
"If the distribution had been done without bias, we would not have to complain. We have worked very hard for the paperwork but all our efforts have gone into vain as norms have not been followed. What was the point of us getting all the paperwork done when the benefits will be taken up by others, who have not even registered with sapling supply? This is extremely disturbing," added the complainants.