The opposition Congress has reiterated its demand for the immediate removal of the Power Minister James K Sangma to ensure free and fair investigation into the alleged scams in the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL).
In a statement issued on Sunday, Congress spokesperson Zenith M Sangma said,”…once again I reiterate that in the fitness of things, the power minister should be removed to allow free and fair inquiry into the alleged corruption in the greater interest of the state.”
“I don’t understand how the power minister and NPP could say that I have the apprehension that he might influence the Inquiry Commission headed by a retired Judge and justifying his continuance as Minister i/c Power,” he said.
The Rangsakona legislator also reminded that the allegations of corruption were not only against the Chairman-cum- Managing Director (CMD) of MeECL but equally against the Minister of Power as well.
“The Minister is the head having the supreme executive power in the Power Department. Therefore, it is obvious that anybody in that position can destroy or manipulate the evidence or tamper the submission of the relevant documents before the Inquiry Commission,” he said.
He was reacting to a recent statement made by the power minister who had slammed the Congress leader for trying to cast an aspersion on the character of a retired judge who will head the inquiry commission to probe into the alleged scams in the MeECL.
On the other hand, Zenith said that he was not against the self identified power projects (SIPPs) but the manner in which the Expression of Interest (EOI) has been floated is not correct.
“Yes, we want developers to come and invest. But the EOI should have been at proper time not during the time when the State is having complete and partial lockdown because of Covid Pandemic. There is every chance that this can also be another scam. Therefore I just cautioned the Government. As it creates suspicions that there can be malafide intention,” he said.
Alleging the power minister of ignoring the interest of the local people be it local contractors or officers, the Congress leader said What is the logic in awarding all the contract works to the outside companies/firms on turnkey basis at very exorbitant rates, who in turn re-alloted the same works to the local contractors (as sub-contract) at the lower rates.
He further asked, “What is the logic behind appointing Shri. Rupesh Kumar as the adviser to the Power Minister and Shri. Manish Gupta as the adviser to the CMD of MeECL on Pro-bono basis. These advisers are without any salary or remuneration and even TA/DA is not applicable, whereas their duties and functions are enormous.”
Stating that there is no proper engagements to increase the revenue of the corporation, Zenith said now the monthly revenue collection is around 80 to 85 crores whereas the monthly expenditure is around 110 crores. The MeECL has been put into dept trap.
“The CMD claimed that in the month of June, 2021, the generation capacity increased from 60 MW upto 150 MW (approx) out of 356 MW of installed capacity. Therefore I believe, the revenue must also have been increased. So, what is the revenue collection in the month of June, 2021,” he said while demanding the Minister of Power to reply on all these queries.