UDP demands CBI inquiry into failure of hydel project
Shillong, April 29
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]pposition United Democratic Party (UDP) in Meghalaya today demanded a CBI inquiry into the failure of the Rs 1300 crore Myntdu-Leshka Hydro Electric Project to generate adequate power.
“We demand a probe by none other than the CBI to thoroughly look into the failure of Meghalaya government-owned Electricity Coporation Ltd (MeECL) Leskha power project generating less than 5 MW out of the proposed 126 MW,” UDP Working President Jemino Mawthoh told reporters, while staging in a sit-in-demonstration near the secretariat here.“The project was supposed to generate 126 MW of power but was generating less than 6 MW as of now,” he said, demanding that the government initiate a central probe also into the cost escalation from Rs 300 to Rs 1300 crore.
Initiated in 1998 and cleared in 2004, the three-stage project suffered time and cost escalation adding up to the power shortage in the state.
The UDP also demanded a white paper into the power scenario in the state even as the party criticised the Congress–led coalition government for its failure to ensure uninterrupted power supply.
With an outstanding debt of Rs 473 crore, the state-owned MeECL has resorted to eight-hour power cuts daily across the state. The failure of the Corporation to clear outstanding debts it owed to Central power corporations like the NEEPCO and others resulted in the latter refusing to sell more power.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma came out defending his government accusing the UDP of adopting ‘political posturing’.
“This is not the time to take political posturing at this juncture, I would rather invite the UDP, as a responsible party, to give suggestion if they have any, as to how issues such as these can be addressed,” he said.
Seeking to substitute the demand during lean season (less rainfall) by taking to thermal power generation, the Chief Minister said the department concerned has been asked to create another entity for this.
“We have been depending only on hydro-based projects and it is time we need to strike a balance between our sources of power because of the unforeseen challenges. Often we are confronted by unpredictable weather and other things,” he said.
Meanwhile, the primary power sources, the scenic Umiam Lake and the Leshka-Myntdu dam (both hydro projects) have almost dried up with no pre-monsoon rain till date in the state.
Several business establishments and industries have been affected by the shutdown, the worst in the past four decades.
“We are also suffering due to power shutdown. Production has been hit,” a manager of one of the cement companies operating in Jaintia Hills district said.
Eight hours of load shedding was unheard of in the state’s history and it was ironic since Meghalaya was selling power to neighbouring states in the 80s, S J Lyngdoh, a retired engineer said.
Even internet connection has been erratic due to the frequent power cuts.