As the allegation of financial mismanagement in MeECL besides scams in the power sector has continuously evolved up, the present scenario in MeECL seems to be a worrying factor.
The Coordination Committee of Registered MeECL (Employees) Associations and Unions (CCORMAU) has demanded the state government to save the state’s own Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) from collapsing.
This was made during the sit-in-demonstration participated by engineers, officers, the regular and contractual staff of the MeECL, as part of the nationwide protest called by the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Engineers and Employees (NCCoEEE) and the All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF), in the city here on Thursday.
The protest was held to oppose the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Standard Bidding Document which has been circulated by the Centre to the States, intended for privatization of Discoms across the country.
Employees were also seen wearing black badges and displaying placards and banners. Similar protests were also observed in the different districts of the state during lunchtime.
The committee has also threatened to call for a total shut down of the MeECL if salaries are not paid on time.
Speaking to reporters, CCORMAU vice president Arju Dkhar said, “We demand the government to abandon the thoughts of privatization (of Discoms) as you are aware, private players will come only in areas where they can make a profit but they will abandon the rural areas, which will again be a burden to the utility and the government.”
“If the private players really want to come and if the government really wishes to privatize, they should start with the loss making areas or difficult areas and accordingly give these to the private parties,” Dkhar, who is also president of the Association of Power Engineers, said.
Stating that Meghalaya is blessed with abundant potentialities in promoting hydropower projects, Dkhar said, “But whatever reason we could not harness (this potentiality) despite the fact that hydropower is cheap power. Therefore, we would press upon the state government to quickly expedite the hydropower projects of the state.”
Demanding the state government to make its stand clear on this move by the Centre, the vice president said the MeECL is the biggest industry in the state which employs almost 3,000 plus people besides benefiting other allied departments and sectors.
According to him, handing over the MeECL to the private party will be a big loss to the state and its people.
“Therefore, we request the state government through the chief minister and the power minister to see that this organization does not collapse. You have been given the mandate by the people to govern and therefore we want a good government and not a government who says we can do whatever we want,” Dkhar said.
“This is our state and it belongs to all the citizens and therefore, no individual, no party (in power), no government has the authority to sell it because as long as we are here, we will not allow such things to happen to our state,” he vowed.
Asked, Dkhar said since there have been lots of allegations made by the opposition Congress; it is also high time that the state government and the MeECL management should come out clean on the matter.
While also alleging that the government has availed many loans which are not required at all, the committee vice president said one such loan is amounting to around Rs 441 crore (under DRIP) for improvement of dams and other components.
“I will tell you with confidence that this detail has not been prepared by our officers, our officers have prepared only components which are really required which comes to not less than Rs 200 crore. But some consultants and private parties have prepared such DPRs where they have incorporated components that are really not required. So we are very much against this taking loan for components which are not required,” he said.
Dkhar said that the committee has also decided to oppose the proposed move of the government to take Rs 200 crore for the introduction of smart metering in Shillong.
“We are going to oppose this as we have to return back all these loans. We are very much against this as there should be no loan taken from any financial institutions if it is not necessary,” he added.
Irked at the delay in releasing salary, Dkhar said that the employees may go for a total shutdown as a hunger strike is no longer an option for them.
“I personally cannot see my children dying without food. We cannot allow employees of MeECL to be another victim of such thing (like employees of some departments, who have to live without salaries for six-seven months). Therefore, before it happens we have to act,” he said.
According to him, it has become a trend in the MeECL where salaries are not being paid on time and this has to stop.