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Union min took ‘keen interest’ in degree issue

Kharkongor made NEEPCO CMD despite complaints

SHILLONG: A union minister from Assam, who was holding the post of chairman of a parliamentary committee, took keen interest in questioning the educational qualification of top NEEPCO official AG West Kharkongor when he was its Director (Finance) and had even sought the intervention of the Central Vigilance Commissioner.
Despite complaints from the union minister that he did not have the required qualification, Kharkongor went on to become the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), NEEPCO.
Sources said that a top functionary of NEEPCO tried all means to prevent Kharkongor from becoming the new CMD and even sought political interventions.
In a letter addressed to the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), New Delhi on February 24 this year, the present Union Minister of State for Railways from Nagaon, Rajen Gohain, who, in the capacity of the then chairman, parliamentary committee on the welfare of other backward classes, sought the intervention of CVC to take action against Kharkongor.
The letter of Gohain, a copy of which is available with The Shillong Times was “for inquiry regarding fraudulent declaration of essential qualification by Alexander Gordon West Kharkongor for appointment to the post of Director (Finance) in NEEPCO”.
The letter said that it had been brought to his notice that Kharkongor applied for the post of Director in 2009 stating his educational qualifications as B.Tech (IIT Bombay), and PGDM-Fin (IIM Calcutta) equivalent to MBA (Finance).
The letter, however, did not mention who brought the matter to his notice though indications are that it may be through the intervention of a top functionary of NEEPCO.
The Union minister in his letter, however, wanted his identity to be kept secret by the Central Vigilance Commissioner.
According to the letter, the application of Kharkongor was in response to an advertisement dated November 29, 2009 for the selection to the post of Director (Finance), NEEPCO with qualifications of Cost Accountant/Chartered Accountant/MBA with specialization in finance with good academic record from a recognized University/Institution.
According to Gohain, Kharkongor had made a declaration that he is PGDM-Fin (IIM Calcutta) and equivalent to MBA Finance. “This declaration is false. The certificate issued by IIM to him states that he is post graduate diploma in management and not PGDM-Finance. Thus it is apparent that a fraud has been committed by Kharkongor thereby usurping public employment at a responsible position which could have gone to a deserving candidate”, Gohain said in the letter.
Gohain went on to add that normally, the academic qualifications stated are not required to be supplemented by the certificates in case of candidates from the public sector undertakings, and the academic qualifications of Kharkongor escaped the scrutiny by PSEB and he was appointed Director (Finance) in the year 2010.
According to Gohain, Kharkongor’s first tenure came to an end in 2015 and he has been given extension for another term on usual conditions. However, he has been given extension subject to usual terms and conditions including confirmation after one year.
“Since there are serious allegations about his academic qualifications, a thorough inquiry/ investigation may be ordered. There are also allegations of financial irregularities against him as he has enjoyed the hospitality of HDFC Life who paid all his expenses during his foreign visits which is a matter of inquiry by the ministry”, the letter said.
Gohain, while demanding a thorough probe into the matter wanted the CVC to inform him about the outcome of the inquiry.
In another letter written to the Central Vigilance Commissioner on March 8 this year, Gohain said that he wanted to deliver the letter dated February 24 personally to him and in his absence, he met one Rajiv, Vigilance Commissioner, and handed over the letter to get the matter inquired into.
While stating that he had not been informed about the status of the letter, Gohain wanted the CVC to inquire expeditiously into the matter and to convey the outcome of the inquiry to him at the earliest.
Sources said that following his complaints, the matter was inquired into by the Chief Vigilance Officer of NEEPCO Satish Verma, who found that Kharkongor was the victim of internal maneuvering for supremacy by some officials.
According to sources, Verma had submitted a report on how a particular official who was vying for the post of CMD lodged complaints with the Ministry of Power against Kharkongor, the Director (Finance) NEEPCO, who was set to take over as the new CMD.
It was in December last year that the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions had recommended Kharkongor’s name for the post of CMD.
PESB had recommended Kharkongor’s name after an interview held in Delhi on December 28, 2015. Besides Kharkongor, SB Borgohain, Director (Personnel), NEEPCO had also appeared in the interview.
Finally, on August 26 this year, the Department of Personnel and Training appointed Kharkongor as the new CMD.
It is yet to be known what was the reason for the special interest taken by Gohain to remove Kharkongor.
Curiously, in August last year, NECPCO cleared the bills of Gohain and his family for staying at High Winds Guest House, Shillong in July last year.
According to NEEPCO, Gohain had sought accommodation in NEEPCO guest house, Shillong and since the request was made one day ahead of his visit, approval could not be taken in advance from the competent authority.
A note seeking approval circulated among the concerned top NEEPCO functionaries under the subject “official hospitality and declaration of official guest and settlements of bill thereof”, said that Gohain stayed with his family in High Winds Guest House and two rooms were booked.
The bill charged by the guest house was Rs 24,114.
Senior Manager (HR) Administration made a proposal to treat Gohain as NEEPCO guest and approve the expenditure accordingly.
Subsequently, the note of Director (personnel) SB Borgohain said, “since this is a case of an MP, the proposal is submitted for approval of CMD”. Later, the CMD approved the bill.

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