Congress demands CBI inquiry into alleged multi-crore scams in power department

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With the allegation of rampant corruption continues to haunt the Meghalaya democratic alliance Government in the state, the opposition Congress has demanded an investigation by the central bureau of investigation (CBI) into the alleged multi-crore scams in the state power department.

According to the opposition, there are lots of irregularities and anomalies in the implementation of the various projects that include the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded smart metering project, Saubhagya scheme, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), etc.

“There is scam after scam in the power department. We want justice and we demand an independent inquiry into this to ensure that people who are involved in this criminal conspiracy are booked under the provisions of the law of the land,” Congress spokesperson and Rangsakona legislator Zenith Sangma told reporters on Wednesday.

Stating that it is a matter of serious concern, Sangma also condemned the Conrad K Sangma-led state government for its adamant attitude to address the issues which according to him, if rectified on time, hundreds of crores would have been saved for the interest of the state.

When asked, the Congress leader said “It should not be less than CBI. If the government and people in power whether it is the chief minister or team of the council of ministers when they are being blamed by the opposition for being involved in corrupt practices, it should have been their duty to give clarification by doing an independent inquiry not less than CBI, just to tell to the people whatever the opposition has been allegation is wrong. Do they dare to do that? Never. Had I been in their place, I would definitely give the order for CBI inquiry.”

On the ADB-funded project for the introduction of smart metering in the state, Sangma alleged that the conditions in the tendering process have been made in such a way to ensure a single bidder of their choice will be qualified.

“We find only a single bidder was qualified to execute the work of around Rs 200 crore…and that 18 percent was enhanced above the estimated cost. If you calculate 18 percent above the estimated cost which is Rs 200 crore, then an extra of Rs 36 crore is being drained out because no competition has been in the tendering process. With predetermine and malafide intention, the tendering was done wherein only a single bidder of their choice could be qualified (for the work). This is a scam,” he said.

According to him, had the government done the tendering process in a fair manner where lots of companies and suppliers are able to participate and compete, the question of enhancing the original estimated cost by another Rs 36 crore would not have arise.

He said this was done at a time when the state is facing a huge financial crunch and when the state is not in a position to give salary to employees of different sectors including MeECL but the money is being drained out because of the fact that the very purpose is to fulfill the greed of very few.

Sangma also referred to the implementation of the DDU-GKY phase I and II where the LOA has been revised by increasing the scope of work to Rs 30 crore without the approval of the funding agency – the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited.

“When the question of 30 crore is being enhanced, there is also state share where 85 percent would be given by the Centre and 15 percent by the state government and if we calculate 15 percent of Rs 30 crore, it comes to Rs 4.5 crore,” he said adding scam is everywhere and that the people in power are not sparing from looting the people of the state.

Sangma further alleged that an extra amount of Rs 151 crore has been escalated through revision of the estimate for the implementation of the Ganol Small Hydro Power Project.

He said when the matter was raised in the just concluded Assembly’s autumn session, the reply given for the decision to enhance the estimate for the project was because of some “geological surprise”.

“How can geological surprise be there? Did not the MeECL do soil testing before making the DPR? When this particular question was asked, the reply was while doing soil testing before the DPR was done, it was somehow missed out. Can it be possible? The big question arises and I am telling you, the level of work wherein there can be any geological surprise has already crossed, the construction of tunnel has been already over, the construction which are required to be done underground has already been over now only the construction of the super structure is being left. So how can there be geological surprises, tell me? They are making different excuses to extract money and loot public money,” he said.

Similarly, he said in the implementation of the Saubhagya scheme, two companies – M/s Satnam Global Infra Projects Ltd, Delhi and M/s Onycon Enterprises, Mumbai, have been awarded the work and for the small work service connection work, 100 local contractors have been awarded the work.

He said very interestingly, the infrastructural component has been awarded to two big companies from outside the state at 51 percent which is above the scheduled of rate (SOR) while for 100 local contractors, it was as per SOR.

“But the question arises when local contractors could be given as per SOR why then the infrastructural component of work was given at 51 percent above SOR. Due to this, around Rs 180 crore extra money was required for the payment,” he added.

The Congress leader further opposed the one time settlement (OTS) given to the various industries with regards to the outstanding bills up to March 31, this year.

Under this, he said if the parties who are defaulters pay the entire amount, 30 percent of the outstanding bill will be waived off.

“When worked out the total outstanding bills involving industries and domestic consumers the amount is coming up to Rs 700 crore. Is it not a big problem? Almost 50 percent of the power is being consumed by the industries. Therefore, why the industries, which are commercial entities, should be included? There is some malafide intention…it is just another scam in the department,” Sangma said.

Asked, the Congress leader said the work for the ADB-funded smart metering project was warded to M/s Satnam Global Infra Projects Ltd, Delhi adding “They have made the settlement in Meghalaya and they are not going anywhere.”

He alleged, “Everywhere this company (is getting projects) meaning people from some private companies are dictating the state government…that is why the Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma has mentioned that it is a well-scripted modus operandi.”

Admitting that the state government has been reluctant to welcome CBI probe into the allegations of corruption, Sangma however said the Congress will take steps when the time comes, to ensure its demand for independent inquiry is achieved.

He said CBI is a premium institution of the country, which can do an independent inquiry to prove corruption charges.

To a query, Sangma said if the Congress comes back to power there will be no if’s and but’s as it will be happy to give justice to the people while reminding that the hand of the law is very long and one day all those responsible to cheat and loot the people of the state will not go scot-free.