Rs 45-lakh cess embezzled, then repaid; probe likely

Chandigarh, March 12: Nearly Rs 45 lakh siphoned off from funds of the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board during the last about one year had been quietly repaid by the accused. The matter was almost buried by the Labour Department, till the whispers reached the office of the Chief Minister.

With more money found missing, the department is now considering to either lodge an FIR or seek a Vigilance probe.

Confirming the development, Sanjay Kumar, Principal Secretary, (Labour), said: “We have found a major anomaly in the amount deposited under labour cess. At least 90 per cent of the withdrawn amount has been deposited back. But we cannot merely accept the statement of the accused and close the case. The matter needs to be probed.”

The funds pertained to the collection of labour cess. The cess amount is 1 per cent of the total project cost, which is paid by the employer of construction workers registered with the state. The funds are meant for the welfare schemes of labourers.

Official sources said: “A little more than a month ago when the accounts were checked after the introduction of the online accounting system, funds meant for the welfare of the labourers were found missing. Assistant computer operator Pankaj Sharma, in a letter to the secretary, claimed that he had deposited back Rs 9.72 lakh. He named Maninder Pal Singh and Varinder Singh, both operators, and peon Suraj Kumar, who allegedly got the money deposited into their accounts and in name of their relatives and friends.”

The CMO is expected to take a call on the issue soon, it is learnt.

The money was allegedly embezzled from the funds of Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board during the last about one year. With more money found missing, the Labour Department is now considering to either lodge an FIR or seek a Vigilance probe.
 Source Tribune India

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