Congress playing petty politics: James reacts to corruption allegations

James Sangma

Shillong, Dec 3: Meghalaya Power Minister James Sangma today gave a detailed response to corruption allegations made by Congress on various projects under Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited, accusing them of ‘playing petty politics.’

Speaking on the Asian Development Bank funded Smart Meter project, the power minister said that the opposition put out misconstrued facts to skew public opinion.

“An ADB financing is primarily a loan given to the central government. The central government then functions as a guarantor for the loan, which is passed on to the state government as a grant from the central government. By extension, this means that there is barely any debt burden on the state, as the sovereign guarantee is given by the centre,” he said.

On accusations that tendering process was favoured to only one bidder, he said that only one bidder qualified as per the technical criteria despite the six month tendering process.

He added that cost was enhanced for the project by 18 percent, due to addition of 1,05,000 more dual-mode hybrid smart meters to the previous scope of work.

On allegations of non-approval of funding agency for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Deendayal Upadhyaya Gramin Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), he said that the budget has been approved by Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), which is the funding agency.

On the allegation of project cost increase of the Ganol Hydroelectric Power project, James informed that the DPR fleshed out in 2007 by Congress was faulty and the geological study of the project site conducted under the Congress had indicated deficiencies. Their contractor encountered fractured rocks and loose boulders, proving that they themselves had faced geological surprises, he said.

On the Saubhagya Scheme, he said that the two companies which were awarded the project took part in an online e-tendering process as per Centre government guidelines.

“All the prices quoted by the lowest bidders were verified by the central government agencies and after they approved the same, only then were the LOAs (Letter of Award) issued by the state government,” he said.

“Regarding the prices of few items as alleged by the Leader of Opposition, it should be noted that this was a turnkey contract and the complete BOQ (Bill of Quantity) was vetted and duly approved by central government agencies and experts,” he added.

Finally on the allegations of one-time settlement (OTS) for Industries, which the opposition had claimed would cost the power department 700 crores, James clarified that the total outstanding dues owed by industries is 180 crores and added that the claims made by the opposition were ‘preposterous.’

“The arrangement has been undertaken to ensure that the settlements can take place in a gradual manner, for the state to recover the losses and also to ensure that industries which have been defaulting for a long time, have an incentive to pay up,” he added. 

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