By Our Reporter
Shillong: Rampant corruption prevalent in the Meghalaya Urban Development Authority (NUDA) has once again come to the fore on Friday after an owner of a stall at the MUDA Shopping Complex complained that MUDA officials had let out a stall registered in the owner’s name to some other person without the knowledge of the owner.
Aibor Ribha Khongwir, lessee of stall No 65 in the Complex, alleged that his stall was given on lease to someone else by forging his signature in the agreement letter.
According to Khongwir, the stall No 65 was allotted to him in 2005 after which he was directed to sign an agreement with MUDA but due to some reasons Khongwir could not meet the then Secretary of MUDA and as such never occupied the stall.
Surprisingly enough, in 2006, a report appeared in a section of the press where Khongwir’s name was listed as one of the occupants practicing benami transaction. “I was surprised to see my name in the newspaper and I immediately went to MUDA to enquire into the matter. But no action was taken in this regard,” Khongwir told reporters here on Friday.
It was learnt that a special committee was constituted by the then MUDA Chairman in 2007 to enquire into the matter but the committee could not establish anything no follow up has been done ever since.
Interestingly, after a gap of five years, Khongwir recently approached MUDA Chairperson and Urban Affairs Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, urging her to intervene into the matter and take strict action against the people involved in the forgery. He also demanded possession of the stall registered in his name.
Khongwir was accompanied by FKJGP assistant education secretary Kitboklang Nongphlang during his meeting with Ampareen on Friday.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters here on Friday, Urban Affairs Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh expressed surprise over the whole matter saying she had no idea about this until Friday.
“I was surprised when the owner along with the FKJGP member came in with this problem. As per office files rent from Stall No 65 registered under the name of Khongwir had already been cleared till June 2011. All this while we thought that he had paid all the bills,” she added.
After initial investigation Ampareen admitted that irregularities in collection of rent and leasing of stalls had been detected, but she refused to divulge any further details on the irregularities saying the fraud case should first be registered with the police after which MUDA would take steps to rectify the problem. “I have to get legal advice and necessary inputs before taking any action”, she added.
Interestingly, stall No 65, which is presently occupied by Amita Bhararia, has been running for 4 years now without the knowledge of the real owner. The present occupant is clueless about the whole thing citing that he had been paying the rent to a staff from the office ignorant of the loopholes in the functioning of MUDA.
She assured Khongwir that she would convene an enquiry committee and if anyone is found guilty, Ampareen said they will have to go as per the law and report the matter to the Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills to get Magistrates to intervene and close down the stall.