Leader of the Opposition says inflated project costs only benefiting certain contractors

Mr Eknath Khadse, the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, on Tuesday demanded an investigation into the financial workings of three power companies controlled by the State Government.

Raising the issue during his speech in the Legislative Assembly, Mr Khadse said that some of the tenders raised by these companies have inflated the project cost. He said this was a ploy to benefit certain contractors. In one of the tenders, the cost got escalated by Rs 1,800 crore and a senior company official was responsible for this, Mr Khadse said.

Restructured

In June 2005, the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) was restructured to form Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (Mahadiscom), Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company (Mahatransco) and Maharashtra State Electricity Generation Company (Mahagenco).

Mr Khadse said the Energy Department is shielding corrupt officials, and putting pressure on honest officers like Mr Subrat Ratho, Mahagenco’s Managing Director. Such honest officers are left with just the option of toeing the line of the top bosses, or resigning from Government service, he said.

Mr Ratho has sought voluntary retirement from the Service. “He is under pressure to take VRS,” said Mr Khadse.

Inflated bills

The Opposition Leader pointed out that farmers across the State are getting excess power bills despite using agriculture pump sets with lower horse power. The farmers are being forced to pay these higher bills. This is nothing but extortion, he said.

Mr Khadse said that the power problem in Maharashtra has become acute after the unbundling of the MSEB. Earlier, MSEB used to have an officer of the rank of Inspector General of Police who used to head its Vigilance Department and have power to even file cases against senior managers of the company. Today, a Chief Engineer is the head of Vigilance in these companies. “How can he take any action against his own people?” he asked.

rahulw@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 17, 2012)
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