Controversial Saubhagya scheme
Shillong: The Opposition Congress in Meghalaya has demanded for an independent investigation into the alleged controversial tender floated by the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) for the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna – Saubhagya for providing universal household electrification in the State.
It may be mentioned that a petition was filed in the Meghalaya High Court related to the tender floated by MeECL by SA Power Utilities Private Limited challenging the tender process.
The High Court of Meghalaya, during the hearing on October 23, had directed the State government not to proceed further on the process of selecting a bidder for Saubhagya scheme.
On November 2, the High Court refused to vacate the stay on the process of selecting a bidder for Saubhagya scheme.
However, according to the Congress spokesperson, Himalaya Shangpliang, on the next hearing the petitioner in the writ petition mysteriously and for reasons best known to them, withdrew the writ petition, allowing the Government to escape from cancelling the tender.
“Whereas no reasons for withdrawal of the petition were given, it is not difficult to understand there might be external factors or pressure behind this sudden withdrawal,” Shangpliang alleged.
According to the Congress spokesperson, the story does not end even there. On November 28, the State government relieved PS Thangkhiew, Additional Chief Secretary and Chairman of the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd., from his office as Chairman.
Allegations were raised that financial requirements of the tender have been devised to exclude local and small-scale contractors and favour certain contractors.
It was also alleged that only eight days were given for casting of the tender. The eight-day deadline includes weekends and Gandhi Jayanti, which means only three to four working days were allotted for bidders to take part in the tendering process and the argument is that how such big tenders can be done at such short notice.
The first deadline for completion of projects is December 31. However, the State of Meghalaya issued a tender for the project only on September 26 this year. Under Saubhagya, the Union Ministry of Power had sanctioned in two parts for Meghalaya. In the first part, Rs 265 crore was sanctioned in August this year, followed by another amount Rs 207 crore was sanctioned in September.