AIZAWL, Oct 28 - The special court of Prevention of Corruption Act has acquitted all the accused in the alleged corruption case in two mini-hydel projects, one of the oldest graft cases in Mizoram.
The judge Lucy Lalrinthari in her judgement on Thursday acquitted the four accused due to lack of evidence. Three officials � Liansanga, former chief engineer of PWD; Lalnunmawia Sailo, former superintending engineer of power & electricity; Laldawngliana, former SDO and a supplier, Swapan Kumar Roy � were named in the final chargesheet submitted in February this year by State Anti- Corruption Bureau to the court.
The engineers and officials involved in the construction of Tuipanglui mini-hydel project and Kau Tlabung mini-hydel project in the early 1990s in southern Mizoram allegedly swindled Rs 933 lakh.
More than 10 engineers and officials were named in the FIR filed by anti-corruption organisation Prism, but charges against most of them were dropped by the ACB when it began investigation last year, due to lack of evidence.
The corruption case has a long history with the first FIR having been filed in 1996. After the case got abandoned, Prism revived it by filing an FIR with the State Anti-Corruption Branch (now Bureau) in October 2008.
�After a thorough investigation, Vigilance department ordered ACB to register a criminal case against 13 engineers on May 13, 2010,� Prism spokesperson Vanlalruata said.
The State Vigilance department, however, ordered the Bureau to withdraw the case on July 2, 2010 without stating any reason. Terming the government�s order to withdraw the case as an attempt to cover up a misdeed, Prism filed a PIL in the Gauhati High Court in August 2010.
After dismissal of the case and yet another petition for restoration, the Gauhati High Court finally took into cognisance of the petition filed by Prism in January 2013.
In the final hearing on March 17, 2015, the Gauhati High Court ordered the Mizoram Government to file a criminal case against the persons involved.
Prism�s FIR said the accused engineers prepared revised estimates of Rs 1,470 lakh for the two mini-hydel projects after the projects had already been completed (ostensibly to pay outstanding liabilities, out of which Rs 373 lakh remained unaccounted for).
They are also accused of spending almost Rs 129 lakh to �repair vehicles�, missed out building more than two dozen culverts, paid ghost employees, �bought� material that never reached the site and ordered unnecessary materials while over-spending for other works.
The complaint pointed out that the estimate for the Tuipanglui mini hydel project rose from Rs 980 lakh in 1992 to Rs 3,721 lakh by 2001 (an almost four-fold escalation over less than a decade), while that for Kau-Tlabung mini hydel project the cost rose from Rs 482 lakh in 1994 to Rs 3,253 lakh in 2001 (an almost seven-fold escalation over seven years).
Prism president Vanlalruata said his organisation is yet to decide its next move on the court judgement.