Rs 16-cr scam in PSPCL’s purchase of meters comes to light; probes on
“It looks as a scam as the whole tender approved by the directors was amended, causing loss to PSPCL”Updated: May 03, 2018 09:24 IST
Investigation has been ordered into alleged overpayment for electricity meters that caused a loss of Rs 16 crore to the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) between 2013 and 2017, it was learnt on Wednesday. While additional chief secretary, power, Satish Chandra has asked the PSPCL technical audit wing to submit a report in 15 days as per orders earlier this month, the central vigilance officer of the Union government’s Power Finance Corporation, too, has sought a report from the state as funds for the equipment came under two schemes of the Union government, reveal documents with HT.
The complainant, who name has been withheld, said the meters were bought (from private agencies) under the Integrated Power Development Scheme and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, executed as per the Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP) of the PSPCL’s distribution wing.
What’s the matter?
Whole-time directors of PSPCL had approved purchase of 131 meters at Rs 800 each for installing on transformers and 2.54 lakh meters at Rs 468 each for consumers premises, with 35% premium over these rates, said the complaint. But the office of chief engineer (APDRP), Balbir Singh, later altered these rates and allowed Rs 800 for the 2.54 lakh consumer meters too, leading to an extra payment of Rs 12 crore under the Gram Jyoti Yojana (rural electrification scheme), it is alleged. And further excess payment of Rs 4 crore was made under the other scheme for such meters. Balbir did not respond to repeated calls and text messages.
When contacted, ACS Satish Chandra said that prima facie “it looks as a scam as the whole tender approved by the directors was amended, causing loss to PSPCL”. He added, “Whosoever is guilty will be punished.”
No third-party audit yet
It must here be noted that when the issue came to light after the complaint, PSPCL director (distribution) NK Sharma constituted a committee of three officers for inquiry, but without reporting the matter to the technical audit department, it is learnt.
Meanwhile, the state and central governments took note of the complaint, which was sent to them too.
“This has set the cat among the pigeons,” said a senior PSPCL official who did not want to be named, adding, “Third-party audit of works executed by the APDRP wing in the last 5-7 years can bring out graver truths.”
Although the Congress government led by Captain Aamrinder Singh in its first cabinet meeting after taking charge in March last year had decided to conduct third-party audit of PSPCL’s business for the last 10 years, it has not been done.