The Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) is yet to free itself from scams.
This time, a person who is associated with a private power trading company in Arunachal Pradesh has been appointed as an adviser to the Chairman and Managing Director of MeECL.
Manish Gupta, assistant manager of Arunachal Pradesh Power Corporation Private Limited (APPCPL) has been appointed as adviser to the Chairman and Managing Director of MeECL on “pro bono basis”.
Employees of MeECL have slammed the appointment and said that this would pave way for manipulation by Gupta in terms of power sale to MeECL at very high cost.
“They appointed Gupta on pro bono basis as an advisor of the MeECL CMD but there more than meets the eye since the power purchase by MeECL is done from this private company of whom Gupta is the assistant manager,” said Arju Dkhar, leader of the Coordination Committee of Registered MeECL Employees Associations and Unions.
But why would anyone choose to take such a policy decision which has such a drastically negative impact on the fortunes of the MeECL?
“We never had such heavy load shedding in the past. So let me tell you this (appointment of Gupta) is the reason for the load shedding. Since December last we have to buy power on a real time basis,” Dkhar said.
He also pointed out that after today’s load shedding, the MeECL management had just again announced that there would be no load shedding now as they were now going to purchase “costly” power.
This purchase of power would entail a cost of Rs. 20-80 lakhs daily and soon this may go up to Rs. 1 crore, Dkhar said.
“So we have to buy power through Manish Gupta, which presents a clear conflict of interest,” he said.
“Why did the Power Department dump the power banking and swapping scheme in this scenario, then? Dkhar asked.
Meanwhile, the Coordination Committee of MeECL Registered Employees Associations and Unions has threatened to launch an indefinite agitation from April 26 unless Chief Minister Conrad Sangma appoints an independent inquiry into the several scams in MeECL and relieve his brother James Sangma from the power portfolio till the inquiry is completed.
According to the Coordination Committee, removal of James Sangma from the Power Department is needed in the interest of a fair and impartial inquiry.
Leaders of the Coordination Committee also today hurled back the allegations by MeECL CMD, Arun Kembhavi that some MECL engineers were in cahoots with power thieves at Byrnihat.
“Why didn’t he file FIRs against the engineers and the companies who he had accused of tampering with the meters at the Byrnihat industrial area after he had gone there on ‘inspection’ with a subordinate on January 26,” Coordination Committee president P K Shullet said.
The Coordination Committee leaders said that more than a week before Kembhavi did his brand of inspection, a vigilance officer of MeECL had found evidence of meter tampering by a company at Byrnihat and an FIR was filed against the guilty company for power theft.
They also said that the MeECL vigilance officer had served the company with a compensation bill of more than Rs 3.48 crores on January 15 this year.
“But instead of lauding the lady officer for doing a good job, she was asked to withdraw the FIR against the company. Further, Kembhavi went ahead and waived off 50 per cent of the company’s power bill which is plainly illegal. What was the CMD’s interest in doing this? And why was the Power Minister silent about this?” the Coordination Committee leaders questioned.
In the same way, they questioned the reasons behind the abrupt suspension of the smoothly functioning power banking and swapping scheme to tide over the State power crisis during lean seasons which did not entail monetary components.
They said that instead of a power banking system, the MeECL management chose to jump into the uncertainty of the real time energy market to purchase power on payment of cash thus bleeding the struggling State power corporation further to drive it into the ground.
The Coordination Committee leaders said that MeECL has been always in the news for various scams including those related to purchase of equipment at outrageous price, smart meter scam, one-time settlement scam, Saubhagya scam.
They said that L Kharkongor, a member of the MeECL board, chose to resign as she was opposed to these manipulations by the MeECL management.
“We request Chief Minister Conrad to listen to us and appoint an independent inquiry to go into all these irregularities and also appoint people at the top who have the interest of our company and not their own personal agenda,” the employees said underlining that they were seriously concerned with the future of the MeECL.