Cong asks Speaker to clarify on Assembly project ‘graft’

SHILLONG, July 2: The Congress on Saturday asked Assembly Speaker, Metbah Lyngdoh to clarify the alleged irregularities in the execution of the new Assembly building project at Mawdiangdiang. “This is a serious issue and he, as the head of the party (UDP) and the House (Assembly), should clarify,” state Congress chief, Vincent H Pala told reporters.
The pressure group Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) has sought a CBI probe into the project’s cost escalation.
In a letter to the Speaker on Friday, the HYC said the High-Powered Committee (HPC) should recommend an independent inquiry to the state government. It said responsibilities should be fixed for alleged embezzlement of public funds and corruption by inflating or escalating the cost of the project without following due process.
Pala said the Congress has already demanded a CBI probe through the Youth Congress.
HYC general secretary, Roy Kupar Synrem said the information provided by the office of the chief engineer and the executive engineer of PWD (Buildings) relating to the project raises serious doubts about irregularities, defalcation of funds, money laundering and a serious case of corruption by all parties or departments or officers concerned.
“The proceedings of the HPC on February 21, 2019, and February 28, 2019, as well as the copy of the LOA of March 4, 2019, make it crystal clear that the amount of tender for the work was 21% above the estimated cost and no further escalation will be accepted during the execution stages. This was decided by the HPC and it is one of the conditions written in the GCC,” Synrem said.
The HYC had said it is strange the office of the chief engineer of PWD (Buildings) has no knowledge about any escalation or inflation as evident from its forwarding an RTI application on this to the office of the executive engineer, PWD (Buildings), Shillong Division.
Synrem said the office of the executive engineer admitted to an escalation in the project cost, which was now Rs 177.78 crore, out of which Rs 160.3 crore has already been released or paid to the contractor.
The same officer also replied that the original approved cost of Rs 141.15 crore differed from the tender amount of Rs 127.76 crore provided by the office of the chief engineer vide the LOA issued.
“Now the question that begs for an answer is, how did the PWD (B) executive engineer come up with the ‘original approved cost’ when the LOA issued to the UPRNN was Rs 127.76-crore? Who authorised the said PWD (B) executive engineer to change the cost of tender value from the amount provided in the LOA to that of the so-called original approved cost?” Synrem had asked.

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