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Mizoram: ACB launches criminal investigation against 16 government engineers

Mizoram's Anti-Corruption Bureau has begun criminal investigations against 16 government engineers, including three who have retired, for allegedly swindling Rs 933 lakhs while building two mini-hydel projects.

Written by Adam Halliday | Aizawl |
May 27, 2015 6:44:03 pm

Mizoram’s Anti-Corruption Bureau has begun criminal investigations against 16 government engineers, including three who have retired, for allegedly swindling Rs 933 lakhs while building two mini-hydel projects more than one and a half decades ago.

The state government had unsuccessfully tried to prevent the investigation, which was ordered by the Gauhati High Court, by approaching the Supreme Court. The apex court, however, dismissed its petition just over a week ago.

The FIR filed by the ACB before the Aizawl District Court mentions former PWD Engineer-in-Chief (E-in-C) Liansanga, former P&E E-in-C C L Thangliana, former P&E Chief Engineer B Lalrinliana, current P&E Chief Engineer K Guite and former PWD Chief Engineer and current OSD (GAD) Vanlalduhsaka.

The FIR says the accused engineers prepared revised estimates of Rs 1,470 lakhs for the two mini hydel projects after the projects had already been completed (ostensibly to pay outstanding liabilities but of which Rs 373 lakhs remained unaccounted for).

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They are also accused of spending almost Rs 129 lakhs to “repair vehicles”, missed out building more than two dozen culverts, paid ghost employees, “bought” material that never reached the site and ordered unnecessary materials while over-spending for other works.

The frequent revision of estimates for the two projects was what led anti-graft NGO PRISM to file a complaint with the ACB seven years ago.

The complaint pointed out that the estimate for the Tuipanglui mini hydel project rose from Rs 980 lakhs in 1992 to Rs 3721 lakhs by 2001 (an almost four-fold escalation over less than a decade), while that for the Kau-Tlabung mini hydel project rose from Rs 482 lakhs in 1994 to Rs 3253 lakhs in 2001 (an almost seven-fold escalation over seven years).

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The corruption investigation has led to a political standoff between the ruling Congress and the state’s opposition parties, who have poked fun at the government’s stated aim of “rooting out corruption” by saying it tried to prevent the investigation and protect not just the accused engineers but their political bosses.

The Congress has meanwhile said the engineers should be investigated internally through a departmental inquiry because a criminal investigation would necessitate their suspension during the probe. “This would adversely impact development works” was the party’s argument.

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First published on: 27-05-2015 at 06:44:03 pm
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