Aizawl: The Mizoram government has come under sharp criticism as the Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) revealed that a staggering amount of Rs. 178.11 crores was squandered on a road construction project that held no public significance.
Addressing the media on Monday, the MPCC’s vigilance cell members exposed the dubious allocation of funds for the Meidum-Hortoki road project.
The ill-fated road project was executed in two phases, according to the vigilant cell members. In the first phase, the Mizoram government allocated Rs 44.45 crore and entrusted the task to a local contractor, R V Hluna from Edenthar in Aizawl.
The second phase, requiring specialised work, saw a sanction of Rs. 133.66 crores. To tackle this, the government opted for restricted tenders and handpicked four contractors for separate packages: Package I – Zoramchhana, Electric Veng, Aizawl; Package II – Lalthanthuami, Chawnpui, Aizawl; Package III – KR Construction, Thuampui, Aizawl; Package IV – V. Lalbiakzama, Venghlui, Aizawl.
Interestingly, the government’s justification for this colossal expenditure was pinned on the ongoing explorations by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at the Meidum site.
However, the MPCC vigilance cell refuted this claim, citing that ONGC had abandoned the exploration site as early as October 7, 2015. All their equipment had been relocated to their forward base at Srikona, Silchar, leaving the road project unjustified.
Supporting their argument, the Directorate of Geology & Mining’s annual report for 2022-23, Chapter D-(2), explicitly confirmed that ONGC had ceased payments for petroleum exploration licenses to the Mizoram government. This revelation affirmed the cessation of oil exploration activities, the vigilance cell said.
The MPCC vigilance cell further emphasised that a company of ONGC’s stature possessed the technical competence and resources to construct roads to their exploration sites, rendering the state government’s involvement unnecessary. A past instance was cited where, in 1992, ONGC inquired about road construction expenses for the Phaisen tunnel site with Mizoram. This inquiry underscored ONGC’s willingness to fund such endeavours independently, negating the need for state funding, they said.
The MPCC expressed disappointment that a staggering amount of Rs. 178.11 crores, drawn from public coffers, was lavished on a road construction project that had no bearing on the local area’s development.
They accused the state government headed by Chief Minister Zoramthanga of constructing a road not required by the people while the cash-strapped state government could not pay its employees on time and could not pay medical bills of poor people under the state health care scheme.
The MPCC Vigilance Cell said that they will continue to pursue the matter to ensure that those indulged in the infructuous expenditure and nepotism are booked and punished in accordance with the law.