MeECL Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Arunkumar Kembhavi has recently claimed that during inspection he had found that there was large scale power theft at Byrnihat Industrial Estate and that the MeECL officials were also involved.
Since this is a very serious allegation, people especially power consumers in the State were expecting that the CMD would call for a free and fair investigation to root out this menace of power theft.
But till date there was no news on this front and since the CMD has not named the industries that he went and inspected and as since he has not filed any FIR till date for a probe by the State police or appointed an investigation team to get into the bottom of this, it seems that his allegations are very doubtful.
As per inside sources, this inspection of Kembhavi was done on January 26, 2021 along with D K Srivastava who is the Executive Engineer (Projects) attached to the office of the Chief Engineer (Projects) as well as the Executive Engineer, Material Management (dual charge for this important person) and also the Nodal Officer for One Time Settlement (OTS).
As per the information received, before this inspection, the Vigilance Officer as per provision of the Indian Electricity Act, 2003 and the Meghalaya Electricity Supply Code, 2018 have the authority to enter the premises of the consumers of MePDCL and undertake inspection of any illegal or unauthorised use of electricity as well as theft.
The Assistant Executive Engineer (Vigilance) of Ri-Bhoi District along with her team on one such inspection on January 15, 2021 found a tampering device to reduce the actual energy measurement recorded in the electrical energy meter of an industrial unit – Shree Sai Prakash Alloys (P) Ltd, Byrnihat.
As per provision of ME Supply Code 2018, FIR was filed with the Officer in Charge, Byrnihat Police Outpost and as mandated by the Act, the Vigilance Officer also served a compensation bill amounting to Rs. 3, 48, 69,143.00 to Shree Sai Prakash Alloys (P) Ltd.
According to provisions of the ME Supply Code 2018, only the Assessing Officer and the Appellate Authority can reconsider the amount of compensation bill after hearing the case within seven working days if the owner of the place where the theft of electricity occurred requests for a review.
Interestingly, the CMD (Kembhavi) has approved to waive 50 per cent of the total amount and Shree Sai Prakash Alloys (P) Ltd was allowed to pay only Rs. 1 crore only as down payment and the rest of the amount — Rs. 74, 34,572.00 only to be paid in installment of Rs. 10 lakh only along with the monthly current energy bill.
The after events become more intriguing. Arunkumar Kembhavi (CMD, MeECL) along with D K Srivastava who is also the Nodal Officer for One Time Settlement (OTS) Scheme went for a surprise visit on January 26, 2021 (A National Holiday) to 33/11 KV Rajabagan Sub Station, Byrnihat without informing prior information to the officers who were posted at Byrnihat. The CMD alleged that the Energy Meters (injection Side) were not sealed and officers concerned were asked to explain this lapse.
But it was reported that on that particular day, all the seals were intact as being sealed by the Vigilance and MTI team and there were no signs of any sort of tampering till the CMD asked the electrician on duty to open the seal (injection meters) to facilitate him to inspect the condition of the terminal connections, wiring etc.
Questions are being raised as to how the MeECL CMD can take up inspection of meter connection on his own. As per Electricity Act provisions, no one is allowed to open the seal of the energy meters without the presence of the vigilance engineer and the MTI (Meter Testing and Inspection) engineer, which the highly talented CMD in his enthusiasm has not adhered to.
Insiders also informed that after this, the CMD instead of congratulating, praising and giving words of encouragement to the vigilance officers who have carried out their duty par excellence in preventing energy theft did otherwise. On February 19, 2021, Kembhavi issued an order transferring them from their respective posts to different offices even as far as Garo Hills.
The officials who were transferred were R R Wahlang (Assistant Executive Engineer, Vigilance, Ri-Bhoi District) and Y Passah (Assistant Engineer, Vigilance, Ri-Bhoi District)
“Their only fault is that they carried out their work beyond his liking of Kembhavi,” insiders said.