Speaker faces embezzlement charges

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IMPHAL November 20: Speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly and elected MLA of Singjamei assembly constituency, Irengbam Hemochandra has embezzled funds from his local area development fund. He has misappropriated funds amounting to more than 22 lacs during the fiscal term 2010-2011, alleged concerned citizens of Singjamei area.

The allegation was made to the press by concerned citizens of Singjamei area at a conference held at Manipur Press Club today. Speaking at the conference, general secretary of Social Upliftment Organisation, K Surchandra Sharma said that inquiry was sought through the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the Deputy Commissioner, Imphal west district by one Sarangthem Ajit Singh, a resident of Chingamakha, Chanam Pukhri Mapal. The RTI sought information of the work implemented by Irengbam Hemochandra under his MLA Local Area Development Scheme for Singjamei Assembly Constituency.

Meanwhile, the MLA when contacted on his personal mobile clarified that, for starters the organisations have no authority regarding the assessment of the implementation of the said MLA fund. The concerned Deputy Commissioner’s office has all the required records and the assessment of all funds should be done through proper channels.

He further informed that a MLA doesn’t directly handle the money and the funds are allotted to beneficiary bodies for the implementation of the works. The MLA can only recommend the beneficiaries.

The allegations are baseless and the timing, with election just round the corner, hints to political motives, the MLA added.

Replying to the RTI, Th Chitra Devi, executive director (DRDA) of Imphal west furnished the sought information including the completed and the works currently in progress, wherein it was found that the many of the supposedly implemented schemes were carried out in documentation only.

General secretary Surchandra further mentioned that as per reports received, many discrepancies were found in the so called implemented works purportedly carried out by the MLA. He stated that during this financial year, Hemochandra had constructed a community hall at Singjamei Top Leikai (ward number 17) at a cost of Rs Three lakhs. Surchandra clarified that no such community hall exist in the said area and the said location is a densely populated area and there is no vacant lot to build the said community hall.

Further, a sum of Rs I lac was withdrawn for improvement and ground development of a public park at Singjamei parking by Hemochandra which is baseless as a public park does not exist at Singjamei parking. The roads of ward number 17 which has fourteen inter village roads are also black topped and has remained so for quite some time, whereas the MLA withdrew Rs 11,50,000 for shingling (preliminary laying of stones before black topping). He alleged that there has been no such shingling work carried out at the said location. For the same ward, a total of Rs 6,50,000 was withdrawn for cleaning of Turel Ahanbi, it was stated at the conference that some few labourers were witnessed carrying out some cleaning work in a particularized area, but the sanctioned amount and the work done is not proportionate.

Conjoining the allegation made against the MLA, general secretary of Service Recreation and Organisation of Youths (SROY) Ng Sporjit also claimed that the Speaker had donated Rs 50,000 for renovation of the said club, but from the RTI information, it was found that a sum of Rs 2 lacs was donated by the MLA. Further, for the construction of storm water drain at Soibam Mapa, Thongam Leikai, ward number 17 and for similar construction and culvert at Thaongam Leikai ward number 17, a total of Rs 4 lakhs were cashed by the Speaker. He mentioned that such construction never took place.

The speakers at the conference warned of initiating legal action against the Speaker if he fails to clarify within five days from today. They said that there is no political vendetta or a hidden agenda. It was further stated that the Speaker should implement the works which he carried out in paper in practicality within a stipulated timing.

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