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Challenges ahead for new MeECL CMD Rebecca Suchiang

Shillong,June 28: Tough task is ahead for Additional Chief Secretary Rebecca V Suchiang, who is taking over as the new Chairperson-cum-Managing Director of Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL).

The MeECL is expected to incur a revenue loss of Rs 900 crore during this financial year and it may also face a difficult financial situation in the coming 8-9 months.

The order to appoint Suchiang was passed by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Friday.

The chief minister admitted that the task will be tough as the financial condition of MeECL is not good

Surprise removal       

Sources said that though there has been demand for the removal of the present CMD Arunkumar Kembhavi along with the Power Minister James Sangma, the sudden removal of Kembhavi was unexpected at a time when the issue of loan payment concerning Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) was resolved.

The decision to provide 100 per cent budgetary support to MeECL for the Atmanirbhar loan of Rs 1,345 crore taken from REC was made by the chief minister in the presence of James and Kembhavi early part of this month.

Finance dept -MeECL coordination  

Commenting on the appointment of new official, the chief minister said, “Kong Rebecca is a very senior person and she is handling finance also so a good coordination will be there. Let us see that we can move in a positive manner and find a solution so that we can start seeing improvement in the overall functioning of the MeECL and I am not saying that the previous functioning of the outgoing chairman was bad or good, it is a tough situation so therefore tough situation will requires tough decisions to be taken.”

The chief minister said as a team, the government felt that it needed a senior person, somebody who is connected with finance to be there for time being and who can steer the ship and closely coordinate with finance.

To a question on whether frequent change of CMD would help the cash-strapped MeECL,Sangma said it will not immediately show results because it is very complicated.

He said the MeECL has had a lot of difficulties whether related to unbundling of the companies, the pending Rs 800 crore terminal benefits to be given to the employees or the overall payments to be made to different power generation companies.

“There has been a huge financial burden as I keep repeating that whereas states like Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and others owe only Rs 100 crore to these big companies, Meghalaya owes more than Rs 1,300 crore. You can imagine the difference in the dues that are there.Then suddenly NEEPCO and the NTPC went into financial troubles. Therefore what will a company do when they are in financial troubles, they would look at their biggest dues which are from Meghalaya and they would start pressurizing the state . It is a natural process…So NEEPCO and NTPC were given instruction to cut the power of Meghalaya until and unless we pay it”.

Pressure mounting  

He said the process of clearing the dues started six months back and the pressure on state government was to clear the entire dues of the last 10-12 years within two-three months. Therefore, it was a huge challenge and pressure will continue now, he said.

The chief minister said the government is not expecting to change the situation overnight by bringing a new CMD but it is hoping to be able to build up a stronger team.

He said the additional chief secretary is already burdened with many departments and added that the government will find ways and means to appoint a permanent CMD of the MeECL

“Therefore till that time we get somebody permanently, we felt that somebody who is close with finance and a senior administrative person should come into picture,” the chief minister said.

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