Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has directed the State-owned Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) to keep on hold the agreement with Broadcasting Engineer Consultants India Limited (BECIL), for operation and maintenance of 56 numbers of 33/11 KV sub-stations across the State.
”We have told the MeECL that till the entire situation is clarified by myself and find out if there is any issue or any point and if the Cabinet and me are satisfied then we will decide how to go forward. Till then I have asked them to keep everything on hold,” Sangma told reporters on Monday.
Several political parties, including coalition partners in the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government and pressure groups are tooth and nail against MeECL’s awarding the Letter of Approval to Uttar Pradesh-based BECIL for operation and maintenance of 56 numbers of 33/11 KV sub-stations fearing that outsourcing will render the qualified local youth unemployed besides it would incur huge loss to the cash-strapped MeECL.
However, the Chief Minister maintained that the outsourcing was done seeing the current financial challenge of the MeECL.
“If the current situation in MeECL in terms of the cost factor and the revenue factor that is there is going to be a loss of Rs. 700 to Rs.800 crore in the financial 2021-22. Keeping all those factors in mind, MeECL needs to cut down its cost, these 56 sub-stations that were there, have been given out for maintenance to a public sector undertaking which is allowed in government schemes,” he pointed out.
Sangma also said that the cost that will involved in having the own people (maintaining the sub stations) will require more recruitment.
Allaying the fears that local people will lose their jobs, the Chief Minister said, “The manpower that would be taken in to maintain these sub-stations would be local people. So in this entire agreement that was signed with this PSU, it was mentioned that the employment will have to be from the state so local people will be employed to maintain these sub-stations.”
“They will have to recruit many more people from the current numbers that we have, because it is not disturbing the current employment structure but all the sub stations will be needed to maintain and so you need new people which would put huge pressure on the finances of the MeECL,” he added.
“That is why MeECL has decided to go for that. The manpower that would be taken in to maintain the sub stations would be local people. So in this entire agreement that was signed with this PSU it was mentioned that the employment would have to be from the State,” the Chief Minister said.
Meanwhile, he also informed that on the issue of notifying members to conduct an independent enquiry into the alleged illegalities in the MeECL, the State Chief Secretary has been asked to give panel of names.
“I have been told that within this week those names will come in,” Sangma said.
He said the challenge is going to be listing out retired judge of a High Court who will head the panel and people who are not connected to the system in any way so that they give more of an independent probe into the issue.
“We need to be very careful. We don’t want people who will unnecessarily bring in factors that should not be brought in,” Sangma said.