The Lede Impact: SECI Agrees to Solar Villagers’ Demands
The long-drawn struggle of the villagers of Perinjanam is nearing a fruitful ending with the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) agreeing to transfer Rs 30 lakh to the twice duped villagers, as demanded.
Senior officials of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had been made aware of the scam, forcing a till then hesitant SECI officials into action.
The agreement was reached this week during the meeting called for by SECI in Delhi, in the backdrop of The Lede reporting on the issue exclusively.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Perinjanorjam Solar Upabhakthre Samithi, LV Solar Solutions and SECI.
The scam started when villagers of Perinjanam Panchayat in Thrissur district of Kerala, as part of their vision to make their village completely solar powered, employed GPR Power Solutions – a SECI-empanelled company assigned to undertake installation of rooftop solar power generation in Kerala.
Employing the SECI empanelled company alone would make the project eligible for the 30% subsidy given by Government of India leaving the villagers without much choice.
GPR Power Solutions took Rs 84 lakh from the villagers who were eager to finish the project at the earliest. The company’s officials then disappeared without even starting work.
Realising that they had been duped, the villagers approached SECI who then arranged for GPR Power Solutions to sub-contract the work to LV Solar Solutions, a Chennai based company.
LV Solar Solution too did not complete the work and left the project midway citing non-payment of dues by GPR Power Solutions after taking additional money to the tune of Rs 57 lakh from the villagers.
The villagers meanwhile contracted the work to a third company Suntastic Solar Solutions on their own initiative and worked towards completion of their project.
“Our reputation was at risk, we had no other way than complete the project even if at personal expense,” one of the executives of the Samithi had told The Lede.
While they went ahead with the project under financial duress, they were summoned by SECI for a meeting held in November 2018 in which GPR Power Solutions and LV Solar Solutions also attended.
LV Solar Solutions issued a cheque of Rs 15 lakh to the villagers who in return issued a project completion certificate which allowed LV Solar Solutions to lay claim to the SECI subsidy for the then completed 311 kWp project.
The subsidy was subsequently released to LV Solar Solutions by SECI.
But when the Samithi tried to encash the cheque from LV Solar, it bounced.
Duped again, the villagers were nervous of reaching a favourable final solution.
They had demanded that SECI release money to them by encashing the bank guarantee submitted by GPR Power Solutions, an amount of Rs 11 lakh, as well as release the second and final tranche of subsidy for the completed 311 kWp project.
SECI officials had expressed reservations when The Lede contacted them initially. But with growing pressure they changed tack.
SECI has now agreed to transfer a total sum of Rs 30 lakh to the Perinjanorjam Solar Upabhokthre Samithi in lieu of the losses incurred by them.
“The agreement is favourable to us,” said Sachith KK, President of Perinjanam Panchayat and Chairman of the Perinjanorjam Solar Upabhokthre Samithi.
SECI has agreed to transfer Rs 11.25 lakh by encashing the bank guarantee submitted by GPR Power Solutions to SECI and Rs 19.395 lakh which is the yet to be released second tranche of subsidy.
SECI has also asked LV Solar Solutions as well as the Perinjanorjam Solar Upabhakthre Samithi to file separate FIRs against GPR Power Solutions for recovery of dues that they are both individually owed by the company.
The Samithi has taken upon itself the responsibility of maintenance of the project on account of neither GPR Power Solutions nor LV Solar Solution showing willingness for the same.
SECI has agreed to extend support to this end too.