SHILLONG: The Meghalaya government is compromising India’s national security by providing a backdoor to the Chinese.

This was alleged by senior TMC leader Saket Gokhale.

Gokhale alleged that new smart electricity metres installed in households of Meghalaya pose a threat to national security, as these metres are being produced by a China company.

The TMC leader has written to Meghalaya deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong raising “concerns related to smart electricity meters project of Meghalaya Government”.

“This letter pertains to an urgent matter of national security in the context of the smart meters projected being implemented by the Govt of Meghalaya and MeECL through the contractor M/s Satnam Global,” the letter read.

It adds: “The smart meters being provided by the contractor are manufactured by a China­based company called lnhemeter with its headquarters at 8/F & 9/F, 1A, Software Park, Southern Hi-Tech Zone, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, China.”

He said that these “smart electricity meters being rolled out in Meghalaya contain a SIM card which connects them to the telecom/internet network”.

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In the letter Saket Gokhale further states: “On 23.07.2020, Govt of India issued an amendment to the General Financial Rules, 2017 through notification number F.No.6/18/2019-PPD which banned bidders from countries that share a land border with India on grounds of national security.”

“However, it seems prima facie that Govt of Meghalaya found a way to circumvent the rules by offering the contract to Satnam Global (which is an Indian company) and allowed them to procure the smart meters from China which is in violation of Govt of India rules pertaining to national security,” said Gokhale.

The TMC leader further cited media reports “of state­ backed hackers from China carrying out cyberattacks and shutting down power infrastructure in other countries as a part of cyber warfare”.

He added: “…it is baffling that the Govt of Meghalaya and MeECL still decided to proceed with the installation of China-made smart electricity meters with SIM cards which is also a gross violation of India’s national security policies.”

He also sought (a) clarifications from the Meghalaya government on “whether approval was obtained from the Govt of India for installing Chinese smart meters with SIM cards”.

“Whether security audits were conducted and whether the smart meters were tested for backdoor vulnerabilities before the installation process began in Meghalaya. Whether, with knowledge of this information pertaining to the security risks associated with Chinese smart meters with SIM cards, the Govt of Meghalaya plans to roll back the project and the timeline for the same,” he added.

Gokhale added: “This is an important and pressing issue that not only pertains to the security of North East India but also has great ramifications on the power infrastructure and grid of India as a whole.”

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