Many would think the story has ended in Imphal Municipal Corporation (IMC) scam with the arrest of Corporator G Gaidon Rongmei infamously known as the "Ghost".
When Thangmeiband MLA Khumukcham Joykishan first exposed a string of Akash bills in IMC relating to construction works in the Municipal area, nobody seemed to know this elusive Special Class Contractor otherwise known as GG Rongmei, who somehow managed to get his bills passed and cheques encashed.
Municipal officials and Corporators feigned knowledge of the identity of the Ghost then. Had it not been but for the persistence of the Thangmeiband MLA, the scandal or the identity of the contractor would have never come to light.
The citizens of Imphal city have every reason to thank Kh Joykishan for exposing the scandal. The ghost turned out to be none other than the Corporator of Ward No 1 G Gaidon Rongmei, who is also a Special Class Contractor.
Several bills seems to have been encashed without even executing the works and money for the welfare of the citizens had gone down the drain. Now, the corporator is arrested and after days of interrogation he had been sent to jail.
Police investigations have also revealed that numerous monetary transactions in terms of lakhs to various bank accounts suspected to be that of IMC corporatorswere found and that there is a high possibility of other corporators involved in contract works of IMC that violate section 59 of IMC, 1994.
Who knows, some other relatives of the corporators might have been awarded contract works under IMC also, as Gaidon Rongmei cannot be the sole beneficiary of IMC contract works.
Even after exposure of the identity, Municipal authorities, including the Caretaker Mayor, tried to defend him by saying that Gaidon Rongmei’s only crime is that he undertook contract works while also being a Corporator.
It is long been rumoured that many of works under IMC were in fact executed by the concerned corporators themselves in the name of some contractor and citizens had been turning a blind eye to such activities, which is in fact illegal.
A corporator or his near and dear relatives are prohibited from undertaking contract works under IMC, according to rules.
Gaidon Rongnmei seems to have confessed to the police that he did indeed committed the offence levelled against him. His explanation was that he was compelled to become a registered contractor as he faced a lot of inconveniences like delay of bills, inability to meet the contractors in time for necessary paperwork, etc as he started works like construction of retaining walls of ponds, waiting shed, community halls and drainage while working under different contractors.
He also revealed that other corporators, including that of Thangmeiband, Uripok, Sagolband, Keisamthong, Singjamei, Yaiskul and Wangkhei also do the works under the name of his firm.
On the other hand, the other corporators denied any knowledge of Gaidon Rongmei being the special contractor GG Rongmei and thought it was his brother or relative while giving statements to the police.
It is simply unbelievable and all along they must have known the identity of the ghost contractor. Remember, the Caretaker Mayor and some other Corporators tried to protect him.
Surely, something is rotten in the Imphal Municipal Corporation.
The term of office of the present Caretaker Mayor and his merry band of Corporators had ended in June 2021 and after the lapse of the term he had been appointed as the Caretaker Mayor and surprisingly some sort of Standing Council comprising some former Corporators is functioning out of the Municipal office.
While the legality of such a Standing Council including that of Caretaker Mayor is very much in question, such adhoc measures also creates room for corruption.
We all know, the present Caretaker Mayor is from his Singjamei constituency but MAHUD Minister Y Khemchand needs to move for holding elections for IMC in the interest of Imphalites.