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ED sleuths seize documents on implementation of Saubhagya scheme in Meghalaya

Saubhagya is a central scheme for providing electricity to all households in the country.  

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Shillong: Sleuths from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have seized files relating to the implementation of the Saubhagya scheme from the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeCL) headquarters here, an official said on Tuesday. 

“A team of ED officials came to the office at Lum Jingshai and collected all the files relating to the implementation of the Saubhagya scheme and other central schemes on Monday (May 8),” the official, who wished not to be quoted, told UNI. 

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“The seizure of the official documents followed after the ED had served a show-cause notice to four MeECL officials,” the official said, while refusing to divulge further details. 

Saubhagya is a central scheme for providing electricity to all households in the country.  

The scheme was implemented in 2017. Meghalaya submitted a Detailed Project Report to the Power Ministry, through the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) estimating Rs 1,914 crore for its implementation. 
But the REC scaled down the budget to Rs 1,189 crore first and then further reduced it to Rs 657.5 crore after assessment. 

The implementation of the central-sponsored scheme is mired in a controversy with allegations that the MeECL had manipulated terms and conditions in the bidding documents of Saubhagya scheme to ensure that they can favour pre-identified bidders. 

Moreover, it was alleged that work was allotted to a Delhi firm at over 50 per cent of the scheduled rate and also flouted the tendering process. It was further that this irregularity has cost the state exchequer Rs 149.12 crore. 
The alliance partners in the ruling National People’s Party-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance had voiced their concerns about the alleged scam in the implementation of the Saubhagya scheme. 

There was also a demand from various groups for a CBI probe into the alleged scam and sacking of Power Minister James Sangma, the elder brother of Chief Minister Conrad Sangma. 

Under pressure, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma divested the Power portfolio from James Sangma in September 2021 and also removed Chairman and Managing Director of MeECL, Arunkumar Kembhavi from his post. 

Further, the Chief Minister also instituted an independent inquiry committee headed by Justice (retired) RN Mishra of the Allahabad High Court to probe into alleged irregularities in the MeECL. 

The committee submitted its report to Chief Minister Sangma on March 31, but the government is yet to make the report public. 

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