Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Authorities differ over JNNURM bus ‘scam’

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SHILLONG: The alleged scam in allotment of contract for running the buses under JNNURM has created quite a stir in the government machinery with different heads of departments issuing contradictory statements while trying to refute the news report published by The Shillong Times on January 31.

Urban Affairs Minister Founder S Cajee has made it clear that the contract allotted to Synroplang SHG has been cancelled. The minister even went to the extent of saying that strong action would be taken against the officials, who had allotted the contract to the SHG, who does not qualify for the job as per the tender called by Meghalaya Urban Development Authority (MUDA).

On the other hand, Urban Affairs Principal Secretary Prashant Naik said the contract for operating the JNNURM buses was given to the SHG for three months on a trial basis. However, the decision was taken by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) committee constituted in this regard and that MUDA has no role on the issue.

The SPV committee headed by the Chief Secretary constituted to finalize the procurement and management of buses under JNNURM, Naik said.

“MUDA has no role to play in this whole process as it only implements the decisions taken by SPV,” he added.

But, the Urban Affairs Minister said, “A final decision about the JNNURM buses would be taken during a meeting to be held with the MLAs of Shillong city on February 8.”

He also clarified that the contract was given to the SHG without his and MUDA Chairman, AL Hek’s knowledge.

Cajee further said the only bid for tender from Synroplang SHG was cancelled following its failure to pay the security deposit of Rs 50 lakh.

Altogether 17 out of 120 buses have reached Shillong and that there are efforts to launch the service by February 15. The buses are expected to arrive in groups by April this year.

Meanwhile, MUDA Chairman AL Hek said, “MUDA is not in a position to allot the job to anyone, as the tender turned invalid,” Hek added.

He said in case government failed to receive any bid for tender in the future for running the JNNURM buses, it would be advisable to create a separate cell in Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC) for the purpose.

Earlier, the Urban Affairs Principal Secretary P Naik said, “The NGO was given the contract through an out-of-tender settlement after there was no proper response to the tender floated by MUDA on the direction of SPV in spite of extension of the time.”

Naik said the NGO who are running around 100 vehicles under the SHG’s name was asked to operate the buses on a trial basis.

He admitted that the NGO was the only to bid for the tender, but did not qualify all the conditions of the tender.

He also admitted that the NGO was exempted from submitting the security deposit of Rs 50 lakh since it is too difficult for them to pay such a huge amount.

“We have to consider this point to exempt the security deposit since there is a very poor response for running of these buses,” he said.

On the proposal to hand over the buses to the MTC, he said MTC like most other PSUs in the State is depending on government grants for running its own operation.

“Any direct involvement of the MTC may lead to extra burden on it as the viability of the operation of buses is not known,” he said.

“If we were not satisfied with their work we would immediately scrap the contract,” Naik asserted.

In yet another separate statement, MUDA said, “The matter had not been finalised and no work order for the operation of buses had been issued by MUDA to any NGO. MUDA had not assigned the task of operation of buses to Synroplang SHG.”

The MUDA also clarified that it had not issued any order to the SHG to advertise for the posts of drivers and conductors.

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