Shillong: The Breach of Privilege Motion moved by the Opposition Congress in the Legislative Assembly against Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Monday was defeated by a voice vote.
After the motion was defeated, Deputy Chief Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Prestone Tynsong sought imposition of a Rs. 500 penalty on the complainant for tabling the “groundless complaint” as per the rule 173 of the Rules and procedures and conduct of Business of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.
Tabling the Breach of Privilege Motion, Opposition Congress legislator, Zenith Manda Sangma accused the Chief Minister Conrad Sangma for “misleading the House” by providing “wrong information” on the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed between the Meghalaya government with National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) in 2007, in his reply to the discussion on the pending motion on the “failure of governance and deterioration of law and order in the state”.
The Chief Minister said the then Congress government signed a “lopsided” agreement with NTPC for a period of 25 years wherein the State Government has to pay a “fixed charge” of Rs. 11 crore every month or Rs. 133 crore annually despite not drawing power from NTPC plant in Assam’s Bongaigaon.
“Till 2044,the State Government would be paying NTPC Rs. 3325 crore “for nothing” even if the State didn’t purchase power from NTPC,” Conrad said.
However, the Congress legislator repeatedly asked the Chief Minister to show where an amount of Rs. 11 crore fixed charge is mentioned in the PPA, even as he informed the members of the House that there is an exit clause in the agreement, which he said the Chief Minister deliberately didn’t mention about.
The Chief Minister while replying to the Breach of Privilege Motion held out a bill from the NTPC with Rs. 11.86 crore as fixed and other charges from March 6.
He further added that the outstanding fixed charge dues to NTPC stands at Rs. 531 crore and the MeECL has already paid RS. 100 crore.
“ … I am basing my arguments on facts and these are facts for everybody to see,” the Chief Minister informed the legislators.
Moreover, the Chief Minister said the PPA with the NTPC can be terminated only if another buyer purchases the Meghalaya Energy Corporation limited’s share of power from the NTPC.
“However, in the past 3 years no other buyer is willing to purchase that share because of the high tariff of NTPC,” Conrad said.
Pointing to the lopsided agreement Conrad said: “only the NTPC can terminate the agreement,” and even then the MeCL would still have to pay the fixed charges.
After both made their statements, Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh asked Zenith if he was satisfied with the reply to which the Congress legislator answered in the negative and refused to withdraw the motion.
The motion was then put up for Voice Vote and defeated.
Tynsong said such a motion sets a “dangerous precedence.”
“Anyone can come up with a breach of privilege motion through such groundless motions It is an unnecessary motion and takes so much time from important businesses,” Tynsong said while seeking Zenith be charged the amount of Rs. 5000 as penalty.
To this, the Speaker said he would be examining Tynsong’s suggestion.