Other States

Meghalaya favours Chinese smart meters: Trinamool

Smart meters seen at Meghalaya Home Minister James Sangma’s residence. Photo: Twitter/@JamesSangma1

Smart meters seen at Meghalaya Home Minister James Sangma’s residence. Photo: Twitter/@JamesSangma1

GUWAHATI

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has slammed the Conrad K. Sangma-led alliance government in Meghalaya for bending rules and putting the country’s security at risk by allowing an Indian company to install Chinese smart meters in the State.

The BJP is a minor partner in the government headed by the National People’s Party.

The Centre had on July 23, 2020, amended the General Financial Rules 2017 banning, on grounds of national security, bidders from countries that share a land border with India.

In a letter to Donald Phillips Wahlang, the chairman and managing director of the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL), TMC leader Saket Gokhale said the smart meters being installed in the State’s households are manufactured by Inhemeter, a Chinese company based in Shenzhen.

These smart electricity meters contain a SIM card which connects them to telecom/Internet networks and they are fitted with smart cards linked to all power networks in India, he wrote.

It seems, he said, the Meghalaya Government found a way to circumvent the rules pertaining to national security by allowing Satnam Global Infra Project Limited, an Indian company, to procure the smart meters from China.

“…There have been several confirmed reports of state-backed hackers from China carrying out cyberattacks and shutting down power infrastructure in other countries… When these acts of cyberattacks and cyber espionage are clearly known in the public domain, it is baffling that the government of Meghalaya and the MeECL decided to proceed with the installation of the Chinese meters in gross violation of India’s national security policies,” the TMC leader said.

Mr. Gokhale asked the Meghalaya Government if it had the Centre’s approval for installing these smart meters, if security audits had been conducted, and if the smart meters were tested for back door vulnerabilities before the process of installation began.

Given the security risks associated with these Chinese meters, he also asked if the Meghalaya Government has any plans to roll back the project. “This is an important and pressing issue that not only pertains to the security of the northeast but also has great ramifications on the power infrastructure and grid of India,” he wrote.

A copy of the letter was submitted to Meghalaya Power Minister Prestone Tynsong, also the State’s Deputy Chief Minister, on July 29.

Mr. Tynsong clarified that the REC Limited is the technical agency for the smart meters.

“The tendering process, when completed, will not end with MeECL. It will come to the Power Department, which will then send it to Delhi. The REC is the technical agency of the Government of India. It will check whether this material is genuine or not and if in good condition or not. They will certify,” he said.

The State government will not be able to engage or issue work or supply orders to any firm without the REC’s certification, he added.

Mr. Tynsong also defended the price of the smart meters. “There are four types of smart meters, and the base price of a single-phase meter excluding installation and other charges is ₹3,750. The other meters are costlier,” he said.

A few days ago, a local organisation called Hynniewtrep Youth Council had sought a clarification from Mr. Tynsong on the projected cost of ₹232 crore for installing 1.8 lakh smart meters. The organisation also suspected the meters were being installed at an inflated rate. The cost of installation, testing and commissioning of each smart meter has been fixed at ₹9,191 while each meter costs ₹3,750, the youth body said.


Our code of editorial values

  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.

Printable version | Jul 31, 2022 12:45:57 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/meghalaya-government-bent-rules-for-chinese-smart-meters-says-tmc/article65702690.ece