Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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HYC moves Lokayukta for probe into roofing sheet ‘irregularities’

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SHILLONG, June 25: Adding fuel to the fire, now the Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) has lodged a complaint with the Meghalaya Lokayukta demanding an inquiry into the irregularities in the procurement of corrugated aluminium roofing sheets by the Housing department.
HYC president Roy Kupar Synrem, on Tuesday, submitted the complaint to the Secretary of the Meghalaya Lokayukta, R Rapthap.
Synrem later told reporters that he cited Section 20 of the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act, 2020, in the complaint against the Director of the Housing department for issuing the tender in February 2022 for the procurement of the roofing sheets.
He said the Meghalaya Lokayukta has its inquiry wing to probe his complaint. “We also demanded an inquiry from the state government and that they should invite us to the site during the investigation,” Synrem said.
He said the Directorate of Housing, Meghalaya, ordered sheets with a thickness of 0.45 mm, which is the standard for good quality. But the supplied sheets were 0.25 mm thick.
According to him, the deviation from this standard, resulting in the supply of sub-standard sheets, raises serious concerns regarding the quality control and procurement practices within the department.
He said the supplier, Kolkata-based Hariana Iron Works Pvt. Ltd., which was contracted despite not specialising in roofing sheets according to its corporate profile, bears responsibility for delivering materials that do not meet contractual specifications.
“This has not only compromised the integrity of public projects aimed at rural development but also potentially endangered the safety and well-being of beneficiaries relying on these materials,” the HYC president said.  Synrem said this is a clear case of misappropriation of public money and the erring officials who are involved should be booked.
“It is not a small amount since the tender value is of Rs 20 crore,” he said.
The HYC president cited Housing Minister Marcuise N Sangma as saying that a joint secretary is heading a departmental inquiry. “We were surprised since the Housing Minister has already indicated there are no irregularities and claimed the Director had done the procurement as per the specifications,” he said.
Synrem urged the Meghalaya Lokayukta to direct the immediate recall of all the orders for roofing sheets delivered by Hariana Iron Works Pvt. Ltd. to various C&RD Blocks in the state and halt any further distribution.
He said the HYC had last week submitted a petition to the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, and Housing Minister on their findings into the irregularities of the purchasing of the CGI sheets.
After making a query with traders who understand the market dynamics relating to these sheets, The Shillong Times learnt that the price per bundle of 0.25 mm corrugated aluminium roofing sheets in the market is Rs 3,500 (approximately), while the per bundle cost of 0.40 mm type sheets, which are commonly used, is Rs 5,600.
Traders say majority of the shops do not offer 0.45 mm sheets since there is not much demand.
The price of 0.45 mm of the roofing sheet will be around Rs 7,800, the traders said.
Judging by the rates, one would have to pay an excess amount of Rs 3,500-4,500 if they prefer to purchase the 0.45 mm sheets over the 0.25 mm version.
Earlier, the HYC urged a recall of a recent order for distributing corrugated aluminium roofing sheets to various Community & Rural Development (C&RD) Blocks across Meghalaya. The petition calls for immediate action regarding the quality of the supplied materials.
According to Synrem, the HYC received multiple complaints about the poor quality of the aluminium roofing sheets distributed to beneficiaries in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills.
He further said the HYC members conducted an inquiry and visited several C&RD Blocks to verify these complaints.
“We discovered that sheets supplied by Hariana Iron Works Pvt. Ltd are substandard and not suitable for use,” Synrem stated.
Marak on Monday said he has ordered a departmental enquiry to find out if there are any irregularities in the procurement of roofing sheets.
“As per the report I am getting, there are no irregularities but nonetheless, the complaint has come to me so I have ordered a departmental enquiry.”

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