Meghalaya: Over Rs 61 lakh spent on MeECL & rice scam probe panels

The state government has incurred an expenditure of over Rs 61 lakh for the inquiries into MeECL affairs and rice scam.

The independent panels consisting of two retired judges had separately probed the allegations of corruption in MeECL in terms of Saubhagya and smart meters besides the alleged rice scam.

While Rs 33,13,692 was paid to retired judge  Mool Chand Garg for conducting the inquiry into the alleged rice scam, money paid to retired judge RN Mishra for MeECL probe was Rs 28,58, 590.

The information was gathered by Meghalaya Monitor through RTI queries.

During the inquiry into rice scam, only four sessions were held in Shillong whereas eight sessions were held in Delhi and the commission assessed 17 different ICDS projects of 11 districs.

The fees for the four sessions held in Shillong were Rs 10 lakh whereas the fees for eight sessions held in Delhi were Rs 20 lakh.

The expenditure on visit of two teams consisting of four members to 17  ICDS projects was Rs 3,13,691.

Out of the total expenditure of Rs 28,58,590 for MeECL probe, Rs 1 lakh was for setting up the office of the inquiry committee.

Rs 10,08,705 and Rs 17, 49,885 were  sanctioned for payment of honorarium/sitting fees of the chairman and the members of the committee from July 2021 to October 2021 and from November 2021 to March, 2022.

Only two meetings were held in Shillong as part of the probe whereas 28 meetings were held in New Delhi.

However, both the reports are yet be made public by the government.

Recently, when asked about the two reports,  Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had said the reports were in public domain but when pointed out that they were not available, he claimed some portions were released.

Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong made an assurance in the Assembly that the two reports will be circulated to the MLAs but they were not released.

He had also said that the concerned department will be directed to release the report.

When asked on February 21, Tynsong said he had asked the Assembly Secretariat to circulate the reports.

However, an Assembly official said that no direction came from any quarters to circulate the reports.

“Infact, we have not received any reports”, the official said, adding it is true that the deputy chief minister assured the House to release the reports.

Meghalaya Monitor filed an RTI query with the public information officer to get both the reports but in vain.

As there was delay in getting the MeECL report, the first appellate authority was moved to release the report but even after several months, the report is yet to be released to the RTI applicant.

As far as the rice scam report is concerned, after two denials by the public information officer and and appellate authority, the matter is pending with the Chief Information Commissioner, who in an order on December 21, wanted reply from the public information officer and the first appellate authority within one month.

Two months have passed but the information is yet to reach the applicant.

Earlier, the reason cited by the appellate authority to deny the information on rice scam was that the investigation by the Assam police is yet to be completed.

Moreover, the enforcement directorate is also  conducting a probe into the matter.

A copy of the report was also sent to the enforcement directorate, according to the officials.

This article has been republished from The Meghalaya Monitor.