CBI probe sought into Orissa power projects

August 22nd, 2011 - 6:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Aug 22 (IANS) Anti-corruption group Transparency International Monday demanded a CBI probe into the awards of mini hydel power projects in Orissa to private developers.

In a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Biswajit Mohanty of Transparency’s Indian chapter said 32 mini hydel power projects have been awarded during 2002-2010 in the state to produce a total 409 MW of power, entailing a total investment of about Rs.2,500 crore, without open tenders.

He demanded that the chief minister cancel all such pacts which the government had already signed with the companies and seek a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“It is shocking that these projects have been finalized for development without inviting tenders or competitive bids,” Mohanty told IANS.

“There is deep lack of transparency and arbitrary method has been followed by the state energy department in allotment of such projects through direct negotiations,” he said.

Citing government procedure, he said the state’s engineer-in-chief (electricity) was supposed to advertise every year all the feasible projects available for development. However, no such process was followed.

“Secondly, as per the policy guideline of the government, the state-run Orissa Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA) should advertise inviting letters of interest asking for offers from producers interested in taking up projects in the sector.

Responding to queries under right to information act, OREDA has confirmed that no such advertisements were issued for the said period, Mohanty said.

A senior official of the state energy department told IANS the projects were awarded on first-come-first-served basis and there have been no irregularities or corruption, but Mohanty differs.

“Private developers derive enormous commercial benefits from such projects,” he said.

“Such projects get exemption from income tax for the first 15 years of operation and subsidies from the central government,” he said.

“These projects are obviously lucrative business ventures for interested developers,” said Mohanty.

“This matter demands a thorough investigation to identify people who took such arbitrary decisions to divest valuable public resources,” he added.

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