SHILLONG, FEB 13: The Congress on Monday “chargesheet” the National People’s Party (NPP)-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government for indulging in the various corruption scandals during the past five years.
The charge-sheet released by AICC media and publicity chairman Pawan Khera.
Addressing media persons, Khera said, “The dome of the under-construction assembly building of Meghalaya had collapsed last year due to use of poor construction material and fault in its design. Despite the incident, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma did not take any substantive action against the contractor. This shows he has been hand in glove with the construction mafia and also patronizing them.”
“The collapse of the dome of the new Assembly building has brought to light how corruption is entrenched in every deal made by the MDA. In an unabashed display of power and shamelessness, the NPP gave the party ticket to the EE of PWD (Building) Ransom Sutnga, who was responsible for the fraud,” Khera said.
“Conrad Sangma has publicly stated that the Assembly dome collapsed due to its heavy weight. That is very wrong description. The people of Meghalaya know that the dome collapsed due to heavy corruption. May be the reason Ransom Sutnga was awarded the party ticket from Shillong North is because he would hold the government to “ransom” and exposed everyone involved in this scam if he was denied a ticket,” he added.
The AICC leader said Meghalaya’s Covid expenditure was 8 times more than Manipur even it had much lesser Covid cases and deaths. Meghalaya spent Rs 816 crore for 96,785 covid cases and as ex-gratia payment for 1624 deaths while Manipur spent just a little over Rs 100 crore for 1.4 lakh cases and 2149 deaths.
Rs 119.73 crore was released by the Centre for covid-related expenses but the health minister announced in the Assembly that the Centre had only sanctioned Rs 76 crore – discrepancy of Rs 43.73 crore. No status report available on the ex-gratia payment of Rs 50,000 to the relatives of those who died of covid.
He said the former Director of Health Services Dr Aman War has now claimed that Covid expenses were only Rs 248 crore and he had said he has no clue how the government had incurred an expenditure of Rs 816 crore adding “Now Dr War is a UDP candidate from North Shillong constituency.”
Khera also alleged there is a scam in the MUDA as a sum of Rs 500 crore was sanctioned but no utilization certificate has been given and no one knows how the money has been spent and there is no visible development of the city.
He said the proposed mega shopping complex at Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC) premises in Jail road is also udner the scanner. The government intends to spend more than Rs 200 crore in a plot of land measuring less than 50,000 sq ft.
“This project also stinks of corruption and is a scam. The rates of construction are much higher as compared to the existing rates to construct a building,” he said.
Khera said Justice BP Katakey, who was appointed by the Meghalaya High Court, in his report had stated that 13 lakh metric tons of coal was illegally mined, transported and discovered which the state sought to pass off as coal mined prior to the imposition of the ban.
The report was scathing in its observation that the illegal mining and transportation of coal from Meghalaya could not have happened without “state participation and even encouragement”.
“This proves the Congress party’s charge, that there has been a huge scam in illegal mining and transportation of coal to the tune of hundreds of crores and this ill-gotten money is being used by the NPP and all the constituent partners of MDA, to fund their luxurious campaigns and purchase MLAs of other parties,” he said.
According to him, the loss to the state exchequer from the illegal mining and transportation of coal is estimated at Rs 650 crore.
Further, the AICC leader said that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its 2021 audit report has also exposed a scam of Rs 149 crore in the state power department, which has been at the centre of one controversy after another, while implementing Centre’s flagship programme ‘Saubhagya’.
He said the CAG report has pronounced that the power department has provided “undue favour” to a Delhi firm by awarding the turn-key Saubhagya scheme causing a loss of Rs 149.12 crore to the state.
Stating that Assam police had also unearthed the rice scam by seizing one lakh bags of rice from Boko which was meant for distribution under PDS scheme in Meghalaya, he said a cartel with the aim of monopolizing IMFL business and manipulating the prices was formed in 2019 adding this cartel was awarded a central bond which started a kickback system by increasing the wholesale price. This in turn affected the retail price. This resulted in huge loss of revenue to the government.
Khera said that the decision of the MDA government to set up casinos along the border in Khanapara is also hugely controversial. Provisional licenses were issued to three firms to open casinos ostensibly to generate revenue for the state. There were allegations of nepotism and favouritism in awarding the contracts.
Only when the church and other social organizations vehemently opposed the move claiming that it will legalise gambling and promote money laundering, did the state government scrap plans of opening casinos.
Alleging that there is scam in the allotment of government contracts, the AICC leader said it is no secret that two ministers in the MDA government – Sniawbhalang Dhar and his nephew Dasakhiatbha Lamare – come from a family with interests in construction and transport.
“Dhar Construction Company (DCC), their family owned company has monopoly over all road construction and infrastructure projects in Meghalaya, especially Khasi-Jaintia Hills and Ri Bhoi. The work for construction of almost all projects in Meghalaya are awarded to this firm and both the uncle and nephew being ministers in the MDA government makes it a classic case of nepotism, favouritism and an obvious conflict of interest. How can a company, however eligible it may be, with two members of the family being a part of the government, monopolise all government contracts?” he asked while asserting that this is a scam of massive proportions.
With regards to the police vehicle scam and the arrest of the Assistant Inspector of Police (AIG), Khera said, “Now how can an AIG without support and blessings from his bosses perpetrate such an elaborate scam is a question to be pondered.”
He said that the Congress is just listing 10 scams and financial irregularities in its chargesheet out of the hundreds of such scams which has happened under the MDA regime adding “The list is endless”.
Meanwhile, the AICC leader said that the Congress government when it comes to power will ensure that the perpetrators of the “grand Meghalaya loot” are brought to book and the embezzled money recovered from the perpetrators of this grand larceny.