Monday, April 22, 2024

Opposition grill ministers


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Opposition grilled the Industries Minister, Dr. F A Khonglam and the Excise Minister, Mr Indro Pariat, on the alleged deals of nepotism and favouritism made by them.

During question hour the members raised a posse of questions regarding the sale of a Mark-4 Ambassador car belonging to the MIDC. The Minister told the House that he himself was the purchaser of the car. The Board of Directors of the MIDC had fixed the price at Rs. 21,965.40 paise according to its book value.

Giving reasons for disposing of the vehicle without going through the usual process of condemnation, the Minister said “the car was not condemned, but it was disposed of to avoid extra expenditure on its maintenance, as the present Chairman of the MIDC prefers to use his own car.”

Minister was in for more questioning from the Opposition on the manner of disposal of iron scraps by the Mawluh Cherra Cements Ltd. He admitted that during 83-84, 90 tonnes of scrap iron were disposed of at Rs. 400 per MT. No tender was invited; only three private parties were allowed to lift the item on the basis of their `offer’.

Dr Khonglam’s agony was not yet over. He was subjected to further questioning on the alleged Leyland truck deal. Furnishing reply to a question from Mr S G Lyngdoh (MUPP) the Minister informed that the Mawmluh Cherra Cements Ltd. Had sold two Leyland trucks at Rs. 59,000.00 to Mr R W Wahlang who happens to be the Minister’s brother-in-law. In reply to a supplementary question, Dr Khonglam said that the trucks were disposed of by calling tenders. Only three tenders were received. The Minister, who was no match to the combined Opposition onslaught, fumbled and muttered, so much so that at one stage Mr S D Khongwir requested the Chief Minister to reply on behalf of the Minister. Captain Sangma, however, declined to intervene.

The plight of the Excise Minister was no less. On question relating to sanctions of new licences to bonded warehouses, Mr Pariat informed that six new licences were issued since he took over as the Excise Minister. Asked what was the need for issuing more licences, the Minister replied “to meet the demand of the drinking section of people.”

The Leader of the Opposition, Mr B B Lyngdoh referred to the report appearing in a local bi-weekly about the Minister’s alleged involvement in the deal for issuing licence Rs. 50,000 a piece. There was no reply nor any contradiction from the ruling side.


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