Sunday, July 21, 2024

Saubhagya ‘scam’: Lokayukta issues notices to ex-Chief Secretary, others


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SHILLONG, June 27: The Meghalaya Lokayukta issued notices to a former Chief Secretary and other former officials on Wednesday over alleged irregularities in the implementation of Saubhagya scheme, as reflected in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on Social and Economic Sectors for the 2021-22 financial year.
Their names were mentioned in the complaint lodged by VPP’s North Shillong legislator Adelbert Nongrum.
In an order, Meghalaya Lokayukta Chairperson Bhalang Dhar said he has seen the complaint petition dated June 12 filed under Section 13 (1) (a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
“Since the allegations in the complaint filed were based purely on the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India which was submitted to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, a notice along with a copy of the complaint petition be sent to the Commissioner and Secretary of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly,” Dhar said.
The Lokayukta has fixed a hearing on the maintainability of the complaint petition on July 23.
In his complaint, Nongrum had also mentioned the names of a former Additional Chief Secretary in-charge of Power and a former Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) for their alleged involvement in corruption.
The other former officials of the Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited (MePDCL), which Nongrum mentioned in his complaint, include Director (Distribution), Chief Engineer (Distribution), Chief Engineer (Rural Electrification), Company Secretary,  Chief Accounts Officer/Deputy Chief Accounts Officer, Additional Chief Engineer (Material Management) and Additional Chief Engineer (Planning & Design).
Nongrum had then told reporters that he expects the Lokayukta to act judiciously on his complaint.
“The two major issues currently affecting the state are corruption and drug addiction,” he had stated.
He also said that the complaint was lodged under the Prevention of Corruption Act as the public servants, who were in service at the time in 2018, had dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriated property placed under their control as public servants or allowed any other person to do so.
The MLA had said the CAG report, which was tabled in the state Assembly on September 22 last year and is now in public domain, relates to audit observations on the functioning of state public sector enterprises. Para 3.3 of the report presents audit findings on avoidable expenditure of Rs 156.14 crore in MePDCL, a conclusive finding which is of significance and alarming concern to accountability of public money.
In the complaint, he said despite an advisory issued by the Cabinet Secretary, an injudicious decision of MePDCL for awarding works under Saubhagya to contractors at their quoted rates resulted in the avoidable expenditure of Rs 156.14 crore.


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