Modi's Vocal for Local slogan and Tripura BJP's statement

Jayanta Debnath

September 8, 2020, 18:03:14   

I personally hoped that after reading my article titled 'Prime Minister's Modi's Vocal for Local and Tripura published in on August  16, 2020 the state administration would take a proper feedback from it and properly investigate the issues  and act accordingly from the next day. But no department or administrative official of the Tripura government has opened its mouth in this regard. However, many people have personally praised this article. 

But I wonder how a section of the ruling BJP party can say that the informations provided and allegations made are false and motivated without any investigation even though the government administration has not commented on it. How can a senior journalist be personally attacked in a party's press conference? This is not done. However, the BJP MLA who told in a press conference on September 7th, 2020 that the information in the article was false and motivated is not aware of full facts. He may be  well aware of the state's unemployment problem, the need for implementation of Modi's 'Vocal for Local' Slogan to address industrial problems and what should be done to implement it. But I would like to express my amazement at how the BJP leaders present at the press conference termed the article as fabricated  and attempted to disprove it at the behest of one of the party leaders.

The main point of this article, published in the and  Tripura's largest circulated  Daily News paper Dainik Sambad  on September 6th 2020, was to give an idea to the common man, the unemployed youth, about the extent to which our Prime Minister and Chief Minister are calling for a 'Vocal for Local'. And to bring to the notice of the State Administration some matters relating to it. The report was not published for any personal attack, nor was any individual-high or low-was referred to in it.

The report said that in many cases tenders are being called in such a way that local companies are not able to submit tenders; neither they qualify to participate. An annual  turnover certificate of Rs. 5 crore is being sought from the firm for allocating work worth Rs. 50 lakh. In this situation, the work which can be easily done by local companies in Tripura is going into the hands of contractors from outside the state. Claiming that the information in the report was baseless, MLA Ratan Chakraborty told the BJP press conference that some of the work was outsourced to outstation contractors but local contractors were working on sub-letting. My question was there. Why are the jobs that only local companies can do and have been doing so far being given to outstation companies? And why is the same job being handed over to a local company through sub-letting? And why the companies from outside the state are being allowed to take the commission of a large amount of money? The administration  can do irregularities and the media cannot write it? 

According to the published report, a outstation contractor is also being sought for the work of SEZ in Sabroom. The contractor is being sought to open a hospital in IGM's newly constructed buildings. The contractor is being sought to hand over six degree colleges to the private sector only for a work of computerization. In the report published in this case, it was said that the locals could not participate in the tender because high turn-over had been demanded by amalgamating    four or five small works together. 
So most of the work are going to the hands of big companies outside the state. So my suggestion was to give the opportunity to local unemployed entrepreneurs or small companies to participate in tenders for these works if possible instead of bringing in outside companies for all the small things that can be done locally. This will benefit the local unemployed entrepreneurs. As a senior journalist, I don't have the right to express such a thing ? Should those who do not like  my statement go for personal attacks ?   I think I have the right to tell the truth if MLA Ratan Chakraborty has the right to tell the untruth on behalf of his party. What do we make of the threat to snatch a plot of land legally and legitimately allotted by a government in lieu of due price ? How long can this go on?

According to the report, everything from steel poles to PCC poles, centralized call centers, line repairs, installation of smart meters in homes, transformers purchase, and installation have been handed over to outside state power suppliers and not to the  contractors in the state power corporation. Moreover, all the works of the five power sub-divisions have been outsourced to two outside Tripura companies. And for all these works, tenders have been called by combining one work with another in such a way that the work can not be called for or executed separately. As a result, many local entrepreneurs could not participate in the tender. 

The report said that after allocating about half a billion rupees of work in the state, a review meeting was held with the Chief Minister on July 20, 2020. It was said that the work of the power corporation should be done by local contractors as much as possible. However, out of  many works  tendered before, almost all the works have been handed over to outstation contractors by the power corporation. In the past, 80% of the work was handled by local contractors and service providers. In this regard, MLA Ratan Chakraborty's demand is that the rules are being followed in all the activities of the power corporation. Although some of the works have been handed over to outside Tripura companies, the locals are working in sub-letting. In this connection, I would like to say to the BJP MLA, in the published report, I also raised the question that the local entrepreneurs can do the work that is possible locally by participating in the tender themselves, so they should be allowed to participate in the tender. Priority should be given to local entrepreneurs as stated in the state Industrial Policy, Information Technology Policy and e-Procurement Manual of the State Finance Department. Failing to provide any reasonable information in this regard, the MLA personally attacked the reporter and made false allegations that the reporter was making these allegations without getting a tender from the power corporation. 

In this regard, I would like to say emphatically - Sir, this allegation is completely false. This reporter's organization did not participate in the tender for any work of the power corporation. Do you think, if a senior journalist is personally attacked in this way, the news of such irregularities and corruption will not be published in any other media in the future? The most surprising thing is that according to the published report, the state power corporation deprives the local unemployed and gives jobs to the unemployed from outside the state as engineers in the power corporation. The MLA did not say anything at the press conference about the information given in the report. Therefore, I would humbly request the MLA to ask the power corporation how many engineers they have recently hired or recruited and how many of them are employed from outside the state, and how many unemployed engineers from Tripura have got jobs?

According to the report, the ambulance service of the health mission has been handed over to the outside company in the name of quality service. Local companies could not participate in the tender due to strict conditions imposed on the tender in terms of high turnover. But it turns out that even though the company is from outside, the work is being done by all the locals. However, in the name of quality service as stipulated in the tender , the ambulances should have GPS system, oxygen, skilled and trained paramedics and basic life saving support equipment which in most cases are not in place. Because, in multiple cases recently, it has been seen that the ambulance is not being found in time. Again, there is no one to take the Covid patient from the ambulance to the hospital ward. There are also allegations that ambulances stand on the road with patients due to lack of petrol. In many cases, the patient's condition has deteriorated due to lack of oxygen. Although the ambulance is supposed to have trained skilled manpower, in none of these cases the quality parameters mentioned in the tender are being met. However, assuming that the quality service could not be provided by the local companies, all the works of the call center service including the ambulance service of the health mission were handed over to the companies based in states outside Tripura. The BJP MLA claims that the work of the ambulance service has been handed over to a outside Tripura company as per the rule and they are doing very well. These  ambulances are supposed to play a special role during the Covid pandemic. In this regard, I would like to humbly request the MLA to take a look at the local newspapers of the last few months after the outbreak of the Covid pandemic in March and see what information has been spread in all the local media about the so-called quality ambulance service of the Company from outside Tripura. 

According to the report, many officials of the Tripura administration are looking for opportunities to move out of here. Because, even the officers and bureaucrats have understood that one day when this government will not be in power, they may meet the same fate as ex minister  Badal Chowdhury, former Chief Secretary  YP Singh and Ex Chief Engineer PWD  Sunil Bhowmik. However, they were put in jail on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations of some financial scandals of the Public Works Department. Now the police are not able to give the charge sheet. 

But those who came to power with slogans against corruption are now facing charges of abetting rampant  in the state during their tenure. And it is increasing day by day. With this in mind, some officers have already started giving notes in compliance with the law in the file. As a result, on July 20, 2020, an honest and efficient IFS officer named Anshuman Dey, IFS  was abruptly transferred from the JICA project. In this regard, I would like to thank the MLA for acknowledging that the JICA project staff have been recruited through a outside Tripura company. He also admitted that the company had taken several thousands of rupees in advance from each of the recruits. Even after that, the outsourcing workers working in JICA do not get paid regularly. However, as JICA chief Anshuman Dey was asked to take action against the company. As a result, he was abruptly transferred last July. In this regard, BJP MLA Shri Chakraborty claimed that the transfer process of Shri Dey was an administrative process and also admitted the irregularities and corruption in the recruitment process in JICA  but still he said that the information was baseless.

Gonza Sonobar, an IAS officer in the social education department, had to go on inter-state deputation last July due to pressure from a leader for not handing over a mobile phone contract worth lakhs of rupees to a company of his choice. In this connection, the MLA claimed that she had married an officer of a outside Tripura  cadre, so she voluntarily relocated. Earlier, Chaitanya Murthy, IFS  secretary of the social education department, had to leave the state for not doing as promised. In this regard, the MLA asserted that Shri Chaitanya Murthy was  transferred to Tripura Bhavan in Delhi as per requirement of  the government and his personal reasons. If, for the sake of argument, it is assumed that there is no other reason for their relocation and  the need for administration is a priority, then this reporter would be very happy to know why more than half a dozen of senior IAS officers with experience had to leave the state in the last two and a half years ? Why did they leave the state when a new government needed their support at the beginning very much?

The report also said that outside Tripura  companies have been allowed  in Tripura  to open liquor shops this year. In order to deprive the locals, the tender has been amended in multiple clauses to give additional benefits to the outside Tripura companies. In this connection, the MLA demanded that an e-tender was called for opening liquor shops and outstation  companies were quoted as per the rules. Nowhere in the published report does this reporter make any allegation that anyone has resorted to irregularities in giving liquor licenses or opening liquor shops or that any party or any minister of the government has taken any illegal advantage. It was just said that for the first time in the history of Tripura, outside Tripura  companies  had been allowed  in to open  liquor shops, which  deprived the locals. In this case, my polite question to BJP MLA who addressed the press conference is-on the one hand, you have increased the number of liquor shops across the state in the name of drug-free Tripura. On the other hand, the night time limit for keeping liquor shops open has also been increased. Can't the media gather information on what you  do and write something on the basis of people's complaints?

Debashish Basu, an IAS officer who was humiliated for not acting in accordance with the wishes of a minister's agent, resigned voluntarily in June, according to a report released by the health department in April on the Corona pandemic medical equipment purchase scandal. The minister's agent forced a well-known contractor to order medical supplies to deal with Corona. But the head of the supplier company managed to evade action even after he was caught supplying low quality goods. However, the investigation report of two IAS officers named Kiran Gitte and Tanushree Debbarma also clearly mentions that there has been a massive irregularity in the procurement of medical supplies to deal with corona. And it was recommended that legal action be taken against the company that executed the Corona medical supplies. But no action was taken. Debashish Basu has voluntarily retired claiming that the allegation was baseless despite admitting corruption, alleging immoral acts against him as an officer. It has been said that when he was the health secretary, he used to exert unethical influence on his subordinates to get various quotations from his known company. It is a serious matter for the government party to make such allegations against an IAS officer. The deep political mystery behind the press conference from the party office that why government  did not investigate such allegations against him while he was in office cannot be said anymore. In this case, MLA admitted corruption in the purchase of medical supplies and claimed that action has been taken against the accused supplier. According to the indication of the MLA in the list of accused, the person whose name was there has retired voluntarily. In this case, the MLA has not informed what action has been taken against the dishonest medical suppliers or has deliberately avoided it. In fact, the administration has not yet taken any action against anyone, according to the investigation report of the two-member IAS officer committee. And if any course of action has been taken, it should the disclosed on record for public.

According to the report, is there any instance in India where a local company is not allowed to participate in the tender? Yes, the so-called BJP-IPFT administration has recently called for a tender in the state in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in the month of April/May this year in which the Directorate of Tribal Welfare, Agartala, Tripura called for an EOI to train tribal students who were going to appear for AICS (All India Civil Service) Examination.  However, there are several coaching centers in the state where students have studied and done well in UPSC Examination and have become an IPS and IAS and IFS officer as well. However, in a tender for teaching such students, it has been said that local coaching centers will not be able to participate in the tender. 

Similarly, the State School Education Department has invited a similar tender from a coaching center outside the state for training the students of Super 30 for IIT-JEE, NEET for thirty poor meritorious students who have passed secondary in a scheme called 'Super Thirty'. In this case also the local coaching centers were not given the opportunity to submit tenders. In this context, the BJP MLA did not elaborate, saying that the tender was called in accordance with the policy of the state government or by depriving the locals only on the condition that the coaching centers outside Tripura should participate. No policy of the state government states that coaching centers in the state are not qualified to teach students for IAS, IPS, IFS or IIT, JEE, NEET, so during the  corona pandemic state Two departments are repeatedly advertising to send students abroad in the name of coaching? How can a government department invite tenders in this way by depriving the local coaching centers? And how can a MLA say that this tender has been called in accordance with the policy of the state government?

So, I will tell MLA Shri Ratan Chakroborty - before giving any comments against any research based report, please do some research. The people of the state will not accept any attempt to tarnish the image of a journalist and a media house by describing as fabricated  some genuine and authentic information given in an article. 

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