MeECL graft probe panel gets three-month extension

SHILLONG, Jan 13: The inquiry commission headed by retired Allahabad High Court judge RN Mishra, constituted following allegations of corruption in the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL), has been given three months’ extension to complete the probe.
The Political department gave the extension on January 4.
Sources said the members of the commission had visited Shillong before Christmas last year and held a meeting with the CMD and other MeECL officials.
The MeECL officials handed over most of the documents the panel had sought. Some additional documents have been readied for submitting on the panel’s next visit to Shillong.
The commission was initially asked to submit its report within three months.
According to the notification issued by the Chief Secretary on July 29 last year, the panel will examine records and make recommendations concerning the functioning of the MeECL and its three subsidiary companies – Meghalaya Power Generation Corporation Ltd, Meghalaya Power Transmission Corporation Ltd and Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Ltd.
The commission will critically examine the procurement rules and procedures of the MeECL and its subsidiaries and benchmark them against the procurement rules and procedures of the state government and some of the better-run energy corporations in other states of the Northeast.
It will also examine at length the aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, covering aspects of faulty metering, underbilling, poor billing efficiency, poor collection efficiency, billing and collection from industries, pilferage of power and lack of accountability as well as the steps taken by MeECL management to address the problem of high AT&C losses and whether these have had the desired results.
Dy CM not aware of extension
Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, who also holds the Power portfolio, on Thursday said he is not aware if the Justice Mishra panel has sought an extension.
“If there is any request for an extension it would go directly to Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma and the Political department that will finally take a final call on the matter,” Tynsong told reporters.He said the proposal for extension will not come to the Power department since it is purely an independent inquiry. “So, I cannot say anything much on the inquiry,” Tynsong added.
The state government had given the panel three months’ time to submit the report but the probe is yet to begin. The commission was formed in the light of the findings of an audit of the Saubhagya Scheme but a fair amount of time had been wasted by then.
The government took more than a month to announce the name of Justice (retd) Ifaqat Ali Khan of Allahabad High Court as the head of the panel, which had to be reconstituted as he opted out after meeting with an accident.
Justice Mishra was subsequently appointed to head the probe. The other members of the panel are retired IAS officer Manoj Kumar (administrative member) and retired Executive Director of REC Ltd Sunil Kumar (technical member).
The government had agreed to set up two offices for the panel – one at New Delhi’s Meghalaya House and the other at the MeECL guesthouse in Shillong. The probe will cover the period from April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2021.

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