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Assembly panel unearths irregularities, twisted facts

Umroi Airport expansion project: A scam worth crores

NONGPOH: With the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly discovering glaring anomalies and misrepresentation of facts pertaining to the land acquisition process of the much hyped Umroi Airport expansion project and blowing the cover off a potential scam worth crores of rupees involving senior State government officials, there has been a call for the High Court of Meghalaya to order a CBI inquiry into the same.
The PAC, led by its Chairman and Shillong West legislator Paul Lyngdoh, and including Mylliem MLA Ronnie V Lyngdoh and others, on Friday last, inspected the plot of land marked No. 101 and 104 acquired for the Umroi Airport expansion. Affected landowners and officials of the Revenue, Survey, PWD (Building) and other departments were also present during the inspection.
During the inspection, the PAC observed that the compensation for land acquired for the said project were yet to be paid to the owners. Further, grave anomalies were detected in the documents pertaining to payment of compensations as the indemnity bonds did not contain the full names and addresses of either the witnesses or the land owners.
In one case, the PAC discovered that a landowner by the name of Storia Nongbsap had received compensation for three separate plots of land even though she was the owner of only one plot.
Speaking to The Shillong Times, after the inspection and meeting, the PAC chairman said they detected many irregularities and anomalies in the land acquisition process managed by officials of the Ri Bhoi district administration, the Revenue department and others arising out of gross negligence and lapses in the discharge of their official duties.
“It is a matter of grave concern and we will ensure justice is meted out to the affected landowners,” the UDP working president asserted.
“What is more shocking is that there was gross misrepresentation of facts by Ri Bhoi Deputy Commissioner Pooja Pandey, who had blatantly lied in the High Court of Meghalaya,” Lyngdoh said, while recalling that the deputy commissioner had claimed before the Court that the district administration had completed payment of compensation to the landowners whereas the truth was to the contrary.
The High Court took the words of the deputy commissioner as the truth and ordered eviction of the landowners from their land and buildings without compensation being paid by the district administration, Lyngdoh asserted.
On the next course of action, the PAC chairman said they have instructed the Extra Assistant Commissioner, Revenue department, to furnish full details of the concerned officers and their present posting who were involved in the project since its commencement in 2007-08, by November 27.
The PAC will summon all those officials after getting the list from the Revenue department, Lyngdoh added.

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