Meghalaya: Rampant corruption in MeECL comes to light
Rampant corruption plaguing the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) was recently brought to light after it was discovered that the corporation incurs massive losses primarily because of the failure of the concerned authorities to take corrective and timely measures over the years.
A surprise inspection conducted by the Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) of MeECl Arunkumar Kembhavi in the Byrnihat industrial area back in January revealed the “modus operandi” of some industries and MeECL officials that had been going on for quite some time.
An official source informed that according to monthly loss analysis reports submitted by the field officers of Byrnihat, MeECL suffered huge losses every month.
However, senior officers failed to address the underlying issues despite the obviousness of the reports, “which shows rampant corruption at many levels.”
The losses range from 6 to 8 lakh units per month at Byrnihat (Rajabagan) 33/11kv substation.
“No follow up or corrective action from the field officers was observed, which shows that the exercise of sending loss reports was only cosmetic,” the source said.
"It was also revealed that that meters have been tampered to an extent of 6 to 47 per cent."
“The extent of corruption and collusion is mindboggling,” the source added.
Similar issues were detected at the 132 kV EPIP-I substation in Byrnihat, which recorded a monthly energy loss of around three per cent or 14.8 lakh units, which is very high compared to market standards.
“It translates to a monetary loss of nearly Rs 1 crore per month. Although it is within the permissible limits set by MSERC (Meghalaya State Electricity Regulatory Commission), the efficiency demands that loss at 132kv substation should be within 1 per cent,” the official source informed.
According to the source, many of the meters are over ten years old and “obsolete.”
The meters were never calibrated, even though these are high-value customers as the industry area is a major source of revenue for the MeECL.
A leakage in energy was also detected after an attempt to match the injection energy of the substation with the outgoing meters which revealed a difference of over six per cent in less than 15 days.
On studying the current profile of meters installed at the industry end and meters installed at the substation, huge spikes were noticed. The spikes led to a variation of up to 47 per cent in some cases.
“Some industry meters were reset multiple times a day, which is again something unusual,” the source said.
Expressing concern, the official said that MeECL’s major revenue comes from industries, and this kind of leakage leads to a tremendous loss.
“By not ensuring proper vigilance and checking of meters, this lapse and dereliction have caused a tremendous amount of presumptive loss to the corporation in the last many years,” he said.
Interestingly, in the last two months following the January inspection, revenue collection substantially increased and crossed Rs 100 crore in March compared to the average of Rs 60-65 crore.
Post inspections and findings, some vigilance officers were transferred “for want of impartial probe without interference.”
“Appropriate action will be taken against them for this lackadaisical attitude, disobedience and insubordination,” the source said.
“However, after a thorough investigation, if it is established that vigilance officers posted in Byrnihat area in the last many years have willingly abetted the theft and pilferage through collusion with industries, exemplary action will be taken against such officers including dismissal from service,” the source added.
The CMD had also approached an independent agency to launch an inquiry into the matter.
The investigation, which has been going on for the last two months, is on the verge of completion.
A suggestion was made for the same probe to be initiated in all major substations, especially in industrial areas like Umiam and Khliehriat.
However, considering the magnitude of the problem, it was suggested that an internal inquiry would be inadequate and that the State Government should appoint an independent inquiry committee outside of MeECL or approach an investigative agency to look into the matter.
(Edited by Ibankyntiew Mawrie & Andre Kongri)