A political activist has detailed what he claims are examples of massive corruption in the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) water connection projects in Garo Hills.
Sofior Rahman, a former MDC, had previously written to the Central Vigilance Commission to request for a team to inspect the status of the JJM projects in the state. However, Public Health Engineering Minister Marcuise Marak then rubbished the allegations, saying that the JJM was being raked up for political gain ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Responding to this, Rahman today listed three examples of what he claimed were instances when the JJM was used as a vehicle for corruption.
In the Nekikona area, not a single functional house tap connection was provided in any of the 26 villages and neither was the main pipeline connected to these villages. The work order was issued in December 2021 and the scheduled completion day was December 31 last year. Despite the alleged lack of work, more than Rs 51 crore was paid out to the contractor, Rahman alleged.
Similarly, Rahman said that the Balbigre Water Supply Scheme is another bogus one. Here more than Rs 33 crore out of a sanctioned Rs 38.90 crore project has been paid to the contractor but no functional house tap connections were provided even though the official documentation claims that 1,499 out of 2,544 have been provided with one. Seventeen villages are yet to be connected to the main pipeline, he added.
For the Sakmal Combined Water Supply Scheme, the contractor has drawn Rs 15.40 crore out of a sanctioned Rs 20.94 crore but, again, no house tap connections have been provided nor the pipeline connected to the target villages, Rahman claimed, despite the Public Health Engineering Department claiming that 1,055 had been in eight villages.
In each case, the contractor has been named by Rahman as BAC Infratech Pvt Ltd, a Hyderabad-based company. He also rubbished Marak’s claim that the payments to the contractor were only made after a third party inspection agency had approved it. Since the agency was appointed by the PHE Department, it would not be an issue for it to give the go-ahead to pay the contractor, Rahman alleged.
The former MDC said that Marak was perhaps parroting what he had been told by his officials. He therefore encouraged the minister to undertake an inspection in person to see the supposed reality himself.