JJM: Kolkata firm supplies defective, sub-par GI pipes

NONGPOH/ SHILLONG, Dec 15: Confirming the narrative of usage of sub-par GI pipes, a surprise inspection by the Khasi Students’ Union has detected severe loopholes in the implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission in Meghalaya.
The KSU North Khasi Hills District unit on Wednesday conducted a surprise inspection at the office of the Executive Engineer of Public Health Engineering (PHE) department, Umsning Sub-Division. Led by organising secretary, Lester Nongbet, the KSU activists reached the venue with the objective to analyse the truth concerning the alleged substandard GI pipes supplied by a Kolkata-based company, Jindal (India) Limited.
However, the surprise inspection revealed many more anomalies in the implementation of the central government scheme, insinuating the probable involvement of high-ranking officials as well, the KSU said.
The Union said that during the inspection, they came across a West Bengal-registered truck unloading 15 mm GI pipes at the Umsning Sub-Division. Physical examination of the materials revealed that each pipe weighed a mere 6.05 kg as opposed to the government-prescribed standard weight of around 7.38 kg. As per proofs available with them, vast anomalies were also found between quantity of order placed and quantity of order supplied at the PHE office in Umsning.
KSU NKHD president, Ferdynald Kharkamni alleged that half-baked implementations such as the one detected in Umsning cannot be carried out without the involvement of high-ranking officials. Questioning the hiring of a company that has already been involved in a corruption case in Manipur on similar grounds of supplying low quality pipes, Kharkamni demanded the state government to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to further unearth the scams in the JJM implementation.
Medium quality and light weight in nature, the Jindal India supplies have fallen short on all criteria standardized by the central government.
Resolving to ensure proper implementation of a multi-crore project like JJM, the KSU leader further said that all actions will be taken by the Union so that the public-oriented scheme does not go to waste.
It may be mentioned that the government, through the PHED, had issued the contract to Jindal India on March 31, 2021, to supply ISI marked medium quality GI pipes worth over Rs 79.21 crore.
Following several complaints of breakage of pipes and formation of rust, the investigation unit of the PHED wrote to the Chief Engineer complaining of supply sub-standard pipes by the contractor.
The complaint said that the pipes supplied by Jindal India were lighter in weight as compared to the normal supply of pipes and most of the pipes developed rust within two-three weeks of use. It also questioned the thickness of the pipes, stating that most pipes develop wear and tear after threading which is done to join pipes together.
Following the complaint, the PHED wrote to the Kolkata-based supplier asking them to replace all the defective pipes, which the latter agreed to, but the same is yet to materialise.
Meanwhile, unhappy with PHE Minister, Renikton L Tongkhar’s assertion on proper implementation of the JJM in the state, the state BJP has decided to take up the matter directly with the minister.

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