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Mukul’s letter to PM seeks probe by central agency

Smart meter implementation anomaly

Shillong, Aug 18: Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma from the AITC on Thursday petitioned the Prime Minister seeking an inquiry by a central agency  into the purchase of overpriced smart meters by Meghalaya government.

In the letter, Mukul pointed out massive financial irregularities in the smart meter contract awarded by the state government.

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He said the government through a tender (number MePDCL/RE/T191/2019-20/Pkg-1) invited the bid for supply of 1,80,000 smart meters. Based on the bid received, the letter of award was issued on February 16, 2021 to  two bidders, Satnam Global Infraprojects Ltd and  JPM Industries and Inhemeter Co. Ltd as joint venture partner.

“As per the contract, the break-up includes ex-works price components of Rs 171,48,42,495 (which comes to about Rs 9,527 per meter) and GST component of Rs 30.86,71,649 (about Rs 1,715 per meter). With this, the total cost incurred by the Government of Meghalaya for one smart meter unit is Rs 11,242.Satnam Global Infraprojects Ltd. installed Liberty 150 Smart Meter manufactured by Secure Meters Ltd headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana. Whereas, the Joint venture of JPM Industries and Inhemeter Co. Itd installed Inhemeter. Now, on verifying data from the open market, it turns out that the online retail price of single Secure Meters Ltd. Liberty 150 smart meter is Rs 5500. Similarly, the online retail market price of single Inhemeter DDZ1513 is Rs 1,700”, he said.

Smart meter installed by JPM Industries and Inhemeter Co. Ltd

Hence, Mukul said there is a massive price discrepancy of Rs 137.55 crore between the price paid by the state government for these smart meters and their price in the open market.

“Moreover, Inhemeter Co. Ltd. being a Chinese company takes the financial viability away from local companies. Awarding the contract to a Chinese company does not align with the core idea of Make in India. It also creates a security threat as these smart meters have SIM cards installed in them and are connected to the wider mobile internet network which could allow malicious hackers and India’s adversaries to gain control of the entire power system in the state”, he said.

Mukul said as there is zero tolerance for corruption in New India, the PM’s commitment to ensuring a corruption-free India gives great expectations as he hoped that the Centre will order an immediate inquiry into the matter through an appropriate central investigation agency.

“This is an issue that has major repercussions on the people of Meghalaya and the state’s exchequer, and therefore, your kind and urgent intervention is greatly desired in order for justice to be done”, the letter said.

Inquiry Commission an eye-wash

Sangma said to investigate the discrepancies in the price of the implemented meters with their
available market price, a commission of inquiry had been ordered.

“A report has been submitted to the government which has not been made public yet
However, specific terms of reference to determine the alleged irregularities in
both the Saubhagya Scheme, as well as the price discrepancies in the Smart Meters
are missing in the notification of the Enquiry  Commission. Therefore, I term this
exercise as a mere eyewash. It is skilfully scripted with the modus-operandi of
fooling the people”, Mukul said.

No accountability 

“There should be a strong deterrence in the state to the repetition of irregularities
affecting fiscal and socio-political health. Under the MDA government, public
resources are being spent without any accountability. Therefore, it is incumbent
upon all of us to ensure a front of strong deterrence. This is precisely why we are trying to draw the attention of the government. It is not just the opposition, but the parties in the ruling dispensation including the UDP and the BJP are trying to draw the attention of the government to an inquiry”, he said.

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