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PHE min rubbishes JJM scam charges

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SHILLONG, May 14: PHE Minister Marcuise Marak has denied allegations of a Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) scam in the Garo Hills, asserting that the department is open to inquiries on any of the 4,000 projects under the scheme.
“Tell me which project they want to inquire about. There are over 4,000 projects. I will ask the department to conduct an inquiry, followed by a third-party review, but they need to come forward and specify which project needs scrutiny,” the minister told reporters on Tuesday.
The JJM project has repeatedly come under scrutiny in the Garo Hills for alleged substandard work in many projects. Dismissing claims of a scam, the Minister stated that the scheme’s implementation has been very transparent.
As of now, the project’s progress in Meghalaya stands at 77.38 per cent, with 504,021 households connected to household taps.
“How can it be termed a scam when the implementation of JJM is very transparent? It’s reflected on the dashboard every day, and the payment method is also very transparent,” Marak said.
He explained that payments require third-party clearance from an engineering group already empanelled by the state government. The third party visits every project, and only if it is functioning properly do they approve payment to the contractors.
It should be noted that the Government of India set a target for every household to have tap water by March 31, 2024. However, Meghalaya will not meet this target and has sought more time, hoping to achieve it by August 2024, as informed by the PHE minister.
Marak acknowledged that some projects are yet to be completed due to issues such as land disputes, problems with Nokmas, or contractors abandoning the work.
The PHE minister also held a meeting with the Commissioner and Secretary of the department and Chief Engineer, PHE, on Tuesday, directing that contractors abandoning their work would not be tolerated.
“I have given clear instructions to the engineers in all divisions that if a contractor is not carrying out the work and does not respond to notices, their contract should be cancelled, and the project should be reallocated to ensure completion,” Marak said.
The minister also noted that some delays are caused by a lack of community cooperation, which takes time to secure before a project can commence.

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