Imphal, Sep 23: The establishment of the Anti-Corruption Cell by the incumbent government and its stated objectives to take those perpetrators to task has given Manipur a historic opportunity to bring back good governance and rule of law, however, the appointment of an engineer with tainted integrity risks compromising the credibility of the entire campaign, a reliable source said.
In a cabinet meeting held at the office of the Chief Minister on September 13, the source confirmed, that Chongtham Ranabir was appointed as the chief engineer of the Manipur Tribal Development Corporation (MTDC). A retired additional chief engineer of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD) Manipur, Ch Ranabir has presently two pending cases against him, both of which are related to, amongst others, fraudulent payments, misuse of power, intention to loot revenues and blatant violation of professional ethics.
Under the Anti-Corruption Cell, in a case numbered RR No. 82/10/07/2017, it is mentioned that Ch Ranabir was in charge of flood control works in different capacities in the IFCD Manipur and was involved in awarding contracts under his influence but, as available records show, many of these are of dubious in nature. These had naturally invited legal intervention, mentioned the source and added that it is subject to question as to how Ch Ranabir has been appointed the chief engineer of the MTDC.
During his tenure as an executive engineer (EE/FCD-I), there are also documents that show he had influenced to award several works to one contractor, Hadlee Chongtham, who is none other than his own son. This is, the source informed, completely against the CPWD Works Manual.
In another case, Ch Ranabir is facing Vigilance Case No-3/SP-V/2017, dated 03/02/2017, which is in connection with fraudulent payment and misuse of power in exercising payments while he was an executive engineer at the Khuga Canal Division No. 1, IFCD Manipur.
The source maintained that the objectives of Anti-Corruption Cell and State Vigilance Commission ensure that those individuals whose integrity, independence and professional record are beyond doubt are appointed as officials. If this high standard is applied, it may well happen that all of the foreseen crises that Manipur is facing will come under control for the welfare of the State and its people.
Meanwhile, rumors are making rounds that the aforementioned chief engineer is close to several senior government officials and bureaucrats and on their recommendations, the appointment has been made. With a chief engineer accused of several charges at its helm, MTDC may also have lost moral authority to discharge its responsibility of upholding tribal welfare and other goals of the corporation.
Besides, the appointment of a tainted chief engineer is no different from challenging the genuine effort of the Government to bring a clean Manipur. A cursory glance at the records of the Anti-Corruption Cell and State Vigilance Commission will show that a few individuals are violating the rules and procedures for sheer private interests. It is hoped, the source asserted, that the Cell and the Commission will never ignore the evidence of wrongdoing by an unethical engineer.
Above all, the past records do not show a favourable picture on the part of the chief engineer for the growth and development of the State. For now, it seems Chongtham Ranabir has to challenge the question against his appointment in the court.
This Press Release was sent by Arambam Kapil, who can be contacted at kupelderanged(at)gmail(dot)com