Privilege motion against Conrad Sangma defeated by voice vote

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A privilege motion tabled by the opposition Congress against Conrad K Sangma, the leader of the house for allegedly misleading the House with regards to the PPA signed with NTPC was defeated by voice vote on Monday.

 After hearing both the parties, Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh put the motion to vote and the ruling bench won the vote with a majority.

 “The Noes have it, the Noes have it, and the motion on Breach of Privilege raised by Zenith Sangma is rejected by the House,” Lyngdoh declared.

 The Speaker however has reserved his ruling on the demand to impose a Rs 500 fine against the mover of the motion to prevent “groundless” privilege motions from coming up in the future.

 Earlier while moving the motion, Congress legislator from Rangsakona Zenith Sangma had accused the Chief Minister of misleading the House on the power purchase agreement (PPA) signed with the National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC) in 2007.

 He said the Chief Minister while replying to a pending motion on March 9 had told the Assembly that the state has to pay Rs 11 crore a month, Rs 133 crore a year for the next 25 years causing a revenue loss of over Rs 3300 crore even without drawing power from the NTPC.

 In his reply, Chief Minister while referring to the NTPC billing for March 4, this year said, “

This is the current bill we received from NTPC which says that the fixed charges is at Rs 11.8 crore.”

 Although the state government had paid NTPC Rs 100 crore last month from the Atmanirbhar loan from the Centre, the Chief Minister said the state has another Rs 531 crore.

 “Where is the question of misleading the House. These are facts right in front of you to see… Rs 11.8 crore is the bill that NTPC gave us and RS 531 crore is the amount of the fixed charges that the NTPC is given us along with the penalty and the late charges that are there,” Conrad said.

 Conrad said “This agreement shall come into force from the date of signing of this agreement for all purposes and intent and shall remain operative up to the completion of 25 years from the date of commercial operation (which is 2019).”

 Stating that he is basing his arguments on facts, the chief minister said, “If you were to multiply this Rs 11.8 crore by 25 years it comes to Rs 3,000 crore…”

 On the suggestion that the government should have drawn the power and sell it, he however said for the past three years, nobody was willing to buy this power NTPC.

 “The member says we need to reallocate this (power) to the other consumers but for many years, we have not been able to find any consumer for this…,” he said.

 “The clause read that in the event the function of MeECL (erstwhile MeSEB) is reorganized and PPA is assigned to private agencies partly or wholly, the successor organization shall ensure alternative payment, security mechanism to the satisfaction of the NTPC…that means without NTPC clearance, we cannot do that,” he said.

 “(It also says) in the event such satisfactory arrangement is not made NTPC shall have the option to terminate this agreement but not MeECL. Only NTPC will have the power to terminate the agreement. So isn’t this lopsided agreement in that sense?” he asked.

 According to the chief minister, if NTPC decides to terminate this agreement, the MeECL will still have to pay NTPC fixed charge.

Later, Leader of Opposition, Mukul Sangma also tried to justify the agreement saying there is a procedure of paying fixed charges and MeECL even pays the same to NEEPCO even as he added that the Government can draw the power and sell it to industries.

Later, Speaker asked Zenith Sangma if he would withdraw the Motion and Sangma replied I’m negative.

Zenith Sangma was again justifying the agreement saying it was passed as per the Central Electricity Act,2003

The House also witnessed a heated moment when Chief Minister Conrad Sangma took note of the fact that the Member was again going into the discussion of the agreement.