No probe into Saubhagya: Govt

SHILLONG: The Opposition Congress on Friday demanded an independent inquiry into the implementation of the Saubhagya scheme for the electrification of 100 per cent households but the plea was rejected by the government.
Irregularities associated with the implementation of the scheme were raised by the Congress legislators.
Initiating the short duration discussion in the Assembly, Ampati MLA Miani D Shira said the original sanction for the scheme was Rs 275.71 crore but the government awarded the tender for package A at a cost of Rs 173 crore while package B was awarded at a cost of Rs 179 crore and the total amount was Rs 352.90 crore which is an increase of 78.13 per cent from the original sanction of the project.
Giving further details, she said in Khasi and Jaintia Hills 32 per cent of the work under the scheme has been completed while the sanction amount was 90 per cent whereas in Garo Hills, the work done is only 5 per cent but 55 per cent of the tender amount has already been paid to the contractor.
She questioned as to why the rates under Saubhagya scheme were inflated whereas Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana was implemented at a lower rate. She also wondered as to what prompted a petitioner to withdraw his petition against the scheme from the court even before the verdict.
Echoing similar views, Opposition Leader Mukul Sangma said Saubhagya scheme is a big scam and it needs to be stopped.
He said that as the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana is under implementation in the state, the contractors of the phase II of the scheme were supposed to implement the scheme and the MeECL had even asked the contractors to implement the scheme but the decision was changed by the government.
Demanding an independent inquiry into the matter, he said that Saubhagya scheme might turn out to be the most infamous scam in the history of Meghalaya.
Replying to the discussion, Power Minister James Sangma said that the scheme is being implemented in Meghalaya with a Central assistance of 85 per cent, 5 per cent from the state government and the rest through loans.
James maintained that the scheme is being implemented as per the guidelines of the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited.
“When the work is progressing smoothly, I don’t understand why members are going hammer and tongs about it,” he said.
James also said the government has decided to go for contractors whose annual turnover is Rs 100 crore since the government wanted to ensure that the project is implemented by only those who have the capacity to complete the project on time.
Regarding the allegations that payments have been made to contractors while the work has not been executed, he said that there are two components of the programme including material and civil work and payments may have been made to the contractors for the materials.
According to James, the Saubhagya scheme is being implemented at a very fast pace. While 1091 villages in the state have been covered under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, more than 500 villages in the state have already been electrified in six months under the Saubhagya scheme.
“Nothing untoward or illegal has taken place in the implementation of the scheme”, the Power minister said while adding that he does not see any need for conducting an inquiry into the allegation.

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