Shillong: With Meghalaya reeling under rampant power cuts, Assembly Speaker, Metbah Lyngdoh, who is also president of the United Democratic Party (UDP), the second biggest constituent of the National People’s Party (NPP)-led ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), has sought Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma’s intervention to settle irregularities in the power sector besides an independent inquiry to unearth the truth about all the allegations regarding the functioning of the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL).
Drawing the attention of the Chief Minister on matters emanating from various allegations relating to the functioning of MeECL, Lyngdoh in a letter to the Chief Minister highlighted several allegations, which, he said, “appear to be of serious nature and warrant immediate intervention so that corrective measures can be put in place to restore and bring about an effective functioning of this very important power sector”.
Dwelling on the Saubhagya Scheme, Lyngdoh said, “It is learnt that there are flaws right from the beginning of the tendering process till the implementation stage which has resulted in huge losses of more than Rs 100 crores”.
“In the recently concluded Assembly Session, it was informed on the floor of the house that the cost of each Smart meter is Rs. 3400. However, it is learnt that the derived costing per meter is Rs. 9444.44 which is contradictory. It is also learnt that the sitting of the Boards of Directors, MeECL to decide matters worth hundreds of crores in just 15 minutes is also questionable,” the Speaker noted in his letter.
On Enterprise Resource Planning, he said “this scheme has several items at exorbitant rates, like the rate of a normal PC (which is outdated) with chair, table, UPS at more than Rs 3 lakh each and the supply of 100 such PCs has resulted in losses of crores of rupees”.
“The appointment of Manish Gupta as an advisor to the CMD, MeECL on Pro Bono basis who is currently working as Assistant Manager at Arunachal Pradesh Power Corporation Private Ltd. (a trading firm from where MeECL purchases power) is a total conflict of interests. The appointment of Arkajyoti Bhattacharjee as Assistant (Techno-commercial) and Sunny Kumar Singh as Assistant (Finance-Commercial) without following due procedures is in violation of the State’s interest,” the speaker informed the Chief Minister.
“The proposed outsourcing of the 33/11KV substation to outsiders will surely attract stiff opposition from different angles. This has to be properly examined before implementation. The special tariff to the Byrnihat Industries Association @ Rs. 4.90 per unit, which is lower than the public tariff is not healthy and resulted in huge financial losses to the Corporation. It is also learnt that the One Time Settlement Scheme was also extended to the live industrial consumer which again resulted in losses to MeECL of about Rs. 17 Crore,” Lyngdoh said.
On power banking and swapping, the Speaker said, “It is understood that swapping and banking of power is a normal practice where power during the dry season is taken from an outside source and the same is returned during the monsoon season with some extra power.”
“Of late it is learnt that this practice is stopped where only trading of power is followed. It is believed that the recent power shutdown is attributed to this as MeECL has no power bank at its disposal and has to only purchase power at high rates resulting in huge financial losses,” the UDP president wrote in reference to the random power cuts in the State,” he said.
On power theft alleged by the CMD, MeECL, he said that “massive power theft occurred in connivance with the officers is also a cause of concern”.
“The post of Director Distribution has been lying vacant since September 2020 after the retirement of Samuel Diengdoh and the same has not been filled up for more than seven months despite the fact that there are several Chief Engineers eligible for the post. M.K.Chetri who was promoted as Chief Engineer (Electrical) in March, 2020 was recently appointed as Director (Distribution) by superseding five other senior chief engineers. This will bring an unhealthy working environment in the Department,” the speaker mentioned in his letter.
“In view of the above irregularities, it would be in the fitness of things to institute an independent inquiry to unearth the truth on all the allegations and also to restore the confidence of the general public. Without putting the blame on anyone at this juncture, those at the helm of affairs should be removed forthwith for a free and fair inquiry,” the speaker wrote and sought the personal intervention of the Chief Minister in this regard at the earliest.