Assam govt accused of bending ADB loan

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Guwahati, Nov 11 (UNI) The main Opposition party of Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) today accused Assam Government of manipulating an Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan to siphon off money through needless purchase of energy meters in the name of reform.

The AGP leader and former Assam Power Minister Hiten Goswami today accused present Power Minister Pradyut Bardoloi of defrauding huge some of money by making ''needless purchase, at higher rate and most importantly faulty equipment''.

Levelling serious charges, supported by documents, Mr Goswami said that faulty energy meters worth Rs 90 crore were purchased at a much higher than market rate manipulating documents.

The ADB had given a soft loan of Rs 1100 crores to revive the sick Assam state Electricity Board, which was later bifurcated in to several generating and distribution companies as per the ADB plan.

Of that amount Rs 660 crores was to pay back the debt and Rs 440 crores for developing infrastructure.

''Here the state government gave priority to buy the digital meter rather than concentrating on their main agenda of reform and infrastructure development'' Mr Goswami added.

According to him, the ADB's consultant Sonwy Mountain Equipment Company (SMEC) sought proper testing of the meters before installation of the same in Assam but the suppliers at the connivance of the power officials did not allow the same.

''Ironically 70 per cent of the energy spent by the industries and corresponding amount of money came from there. Instead of checking the meter of those companies, the thrust was on the 30 per cent domestic consumers. Because there you have the scope of the making money by purchasing digital meters'' he said.

However, regarding his decision, Power Minister Pradyut Bardoloi said transmission loss was huge and hence the ASEB had for phasewise change of entire metering system with digital one which would be tamper proof giving much needed revenue to the ailing board.

He also claimed that all the meters were good but to allay fears he also roped in the Central Power Research Organisation, Banglaore to make random testing of these meters.

But the AGP is unperturbed. ''Now these papers have made it clear that even the buying rates were also manipulated. There were some vested interest otherwise they would not have given so much of importance to an item which is in the ninth position of the priority list'' said Mr Goswami.

The issue is going to rock the Assam Assembly as the AGP is trying to harp on the treasury bench on the subject.


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