The chief vigilance officer (CVO) of North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) has accused several high-profile names including Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, his cousin Goboi Rijiju, a contractor in Arunachal Pradesh and some top officials of the the PSU of corruption in the construction of two dams for 600 MW Kameng Hydro Electric Project. This is one of the biggest hydro-electric projects in Arunachal Pradesh in West Kameng, which is the minister’s parliamentary constituency. Goboi is one of the sub-contractors in the project.
CVO Satish Verma, a Gujarat IPS officer, had sent a 129-page report in July to CBI, CVC and Ministry of Power in this regard. The report alleged an “elaborate conspiracy” by contractors, NEEPCO authorities and the West Kameng district administration to defraud the government and the PSU of funds that may extend up to Rs 450 crore, according to a report in the Indian Express.
The CVO also alleged that CBI carried out two “surprise checks” but no FIR was registered.
According to IE, NEEPCO “pulled up” Verma for “unauthorised absence,” and transferred him to CRPF in Tripura soon after he sent the report. Verma, however, claimed the absence was because of his investigation.
As per Verma’s report, a number of fake and inflated bills were shown by the contractors to “allegedly siphon off money in the name of transporting rocks needed for construction of the dams.”
The transportation cost was decided arbitrarily and several transport challans and records submitted by the contractor, Patel Engineering Limited (PEL), were fake, Verma had alleged.
Verma’s report claimed that thousands of tonnes of rocks were taken to the project site, at least on paper, on scooters, bikes and cars even as several registration numbers provided by the contractor didn’t exist. In some cases, it said, same vehicle number or the same driver appeared many times on different challans.
NEEPCO stopped reimbursement of the bills, primarily belonging to the period between May and July 2015, after Verma flagged the alleged corruption in an advisory to the project head.
The Indian Express has accessed records which show the MoS had written a letter to Ministry of Power on November 4, 2015 for the release of funds to the contractor. His cousin Goboi also went to meet Verma.
According to IE, Verma also submitted an audio CD of the purported conversation between him and Goboi on December 29, 2015. In the audio, Goboi is heard “pushing” Verma to sanction the payments. Goboi is also heard offering “any help you need from Bhaiya (Kiren).”
Later, NEEPCO cleared a part of the pending bills of June and July to PEL with the knowledge of Verma. Work on the dam started in March, 2016.
The hydro-electric project is nearing completion and it includes two dams over Bichom and Tenga rivers. Work on the project had started in 2005 and the tender for civil work at Bichom Dam, Tenga Dam, and a powerhouse at Kimi were bagged by Mumbai-based PEL.